Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reality Mimics Fantasy

As I mentioned yesterday, the NFL's two conference championship games will be played today. I know that I can not cover anything here that has not already been mentioned over and over again on television, radio and the Internet. For instance, the four participating teams are some of the NFL's most historic. The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers are three of the eight oldest NFL franchises. Those three teams are also among the five most successful in the NFL's history. Throw in the New York Jets and their upset victory back in Super Bowl III, and the four teams still standing have eleven Super Bowl championships and 28 championships overall. Another interesting note is that the Bears and Packers will be playing each other for the 182nd time but for only the second time in the playoffs. Then there is this completely pointless little nugget.

One fact about these two games that I find particularly interesting is that both the Packers and Jets have made their respective conference championship games as six seeds. As the worst seed, sixth-seeded teams generally have the toughest road. Wild card teams, the five and six seeds, have to play all their playoff games on the road. It is not surprising then that only one sixth-seeded team has even made it to the Super Bowl. That team was the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers who won Super Bowl XL. This year, the playoffs for the Packers and Jets have been particularly difficult since they both will have faced the top three seeds in their conference.

I know that people, mostly guys, discussing their fantasy football teams can be terribly boring. I broke the taboo twice last year with fantasy-related posts, one of which in particular was a fantasy geek-out. However, one of my two fantasy teams followed a similar arc to this season's Green Bay and New York Jets teams. My team was led by quarterback Michael Vick of the Eagles, running back Michael Turner of the Falcons, and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs. The team finished the regular season with a 6-7 record, but I think my team was deceptively solid. During the regular season, they scored the third most points. They also had the most points scored against them which helps account for some of their losses.

Like this season's Seattle Seahawks, my fantasy team made the playoffs with a losing record. Like the Jets and Packers, my team was the sixth and lowest seed, and like those teams, my team had to face the top three seeds. In the first round, my team convincingly beat the number three seed. That team had opened the season with a seven-game win streak but had faded in the second half. In the semifinal round, my team faced the second-seeded team which was also the second-highest scoring team. My team won a shoot-out, and the losing team would have won the other semifinal game. My team matched up with the top-seeded team in the championship game. The one seed had dominated the season. They were the highest-scoring team during the regular season and were atop the power rankings for 13 out of the 16 weeks, but not the final rankings. The outcome was not decided until Tuesday since we had to wait for the Eagles and Vick to play the Vikings. My team managed to squeaked out a three-point victory to claim the league championship.

Obviously, I know that the performance of my fantasy team has no bearing on the actual playoffs teams, but I am interested to see if the Jets or Packers or both will be able to duplicate the success of my sixth-seeded fantasy team. I have no particular rooting interest in these games, but having the two six seeds end up meeting in this year's Super Bowl would make a riveting story.

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