No one saw that coming.
If you were to pick one phrase in pro football that says it all, maybe that would be it: No one saw that coming.
Because NO ONE saw reserve New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree is running a dummy route late in a game. He gets the ball anyway in what turns out to be the greatest play in Super Bowl history, leading the Giants to their 17-14 upset of the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.
No one saw that coming!
Year after year, a team rises from the pack — or even the cellar — to shock the football world and go deep into the playoffs. The Giants last season. The Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints the year before.
Preseason picks come out, trendy or unique or out-on-a-limb. Last year at this time my projected Super Bowl teams were the San Diego Chargers (not so bad) and New Orleans (not so good.)
As a rule, about half the playoff field churns from year to year. So what is that inevitable surprise team this year? What team will be playing in, say, a conference title game that would get you laughed at if you said now they might make the playoffs?
The New York Jets? It's not just Brett Favre, but a rebuilt offensive line, and the addition of a run stuffer (Kris Jenkins) and pass rushers (Calvin Pace, Vernon Gholston) that gives them street cred. This seemed like a borderline playoff team even before the addition of Favre. They get in.
The Arizona Cardinals? For several years they were the trendy preseason upset special pick, only to finish 5-11 yet again. But maybe that 8-8 campaign from a year ago, and a last gasp from QB Kurt Warner (with Matt Leinart waiting), mean the Cards are actually for real this year.
Could the Jacksonville Jaguars finally loosen the Indianapolis Colts' stranglehold on the AFC South? (No.) Could the Philadelphia Eagles rise again behind a (relatively) healthy Donovan McNabb? (Not far enough.)
Take a guess. Yours is as good as mine.
And here's mine.
Ultimately, I'm going back to the same dry well from last season:
AFC: The New England Patriots are a given, unless Tom Brady is on the sidelines. So are the Colts (at least to make the playoffs) and San Diego Chargers. The Cleveland Browns win the AFC North. Your wild card teams are the Jaguars and the Jets.
AFC Championship Game: Chargers over Patriots.
NFC Championship Game: Saints over Cowboys.
Super Bowl XLIII (Feb. 1, Tampa): San Diego 27 New Orleans 23.
It's now or never for the Chargers, but hey No one saw that coming.
WEEK #1 PICKS
All straight up (home team in caps). Reminder: I had a really bad year last year.
GIANTS over Redskins (Giant win)
Jets over Dolphins (Jets win)
PATRIOTS over Chiefs (Patriots win)
Jaguars over Titans (Titans win)
EAGLES over Rams (Eagles win)
SAINTS over Buccaneers (Saints win)
Cowboys over BROWNS (Cowboys win)
CHARGERS over Panthers (Panthers win)
Cardinals over 49ers (Cardinals win)
COLTS over Bears (Bears win)
Vikings over PACKERS (Packers win)
TARTANS WEEK #1 record = 11-5