Paul – The final week of 2011 brought all the usual salutes, synopses, jeers and cheers of the year gone by. Grammy and People’s Choice promos have begun to roll out, and in about a month, the NFL will hand out its own statuettes. But long before then – only five days from now, in fact – football’s real Award Show Season begins: the Post-Season. Last year it brought us Marshawn Lynch’s Run, the Aaron Rodgers Game (31-36, 366, 3 TDs at Atlanta) and maybe – just maybe – Peyton Manning’s last appearance on the playoff stage. No one was thinking that’s what it was at the time, but that’s the beauty of the annual playoff story: we never know when a new act begins how it might add to our collective memory. So welcome back the NFL Playoffs this week, invite in their serial pomp, circumstance and drama, which will culminate with a trophy presentation – the Super Bowl – sure to be the most watched of the entire Awards Show Season.
Tiff– Tim Tebow’s colors are finally shining through. Yet his stretch of “Miracles” managed to get the Broncos into the playoffs. Now, my 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers will have to travel across the country to play the 8-8 Denver Broncos. I understand that the Division winners get the higher seed, and it worked out for the Seattle Seahawks last year when they beat the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round, but when it’s my team that has to do the traveling after winning 12 games, I don’t think that’s fair. I still think the Steelers will prevail, but I think they have a 60% chance winning since they’re the away team. In Pittsburgh, I would have given them a 90% chance.
Nick – Well, according to ESPN, 2011 was the year of the quarterback. So now that it’s over, it’s time for the media to throw rotten tomatoes at the quarterbacks who cost their teams dearly. Big-name teams like the Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Colts, and Bears all got suspect performances from their starting quarterbacks this season – and they all missed the playoffs. Quarterbacks for the Jets and Cowboys have seemingly become outcasts of society, critics of the Eagles and Bears are rightfully wondering if their QB’s can ever turn in a complete, consistent season, but Peyton Manning? Well he’s old, and Andrew Luck is available so run him out of town too.
Jon – Everyone loves an underdog and I love Victor Cruz. A 2010 undrafted free agent out of UMass, Cruz came out of nowhere this season to set the Giants’ single-season receiving record with 1,536 yards. Cruz is blessed with blazing speed, something you can’t coach and something I’m sure the Giants coveted when they signed him. He finished the season 3rd in the NFL in receiving, behind the Lions’ Calvin Johnson and the Patriots’ Wes Welker. He’s even got me thinking of taking up salsa dancing.