Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seeing the Forest for the Swamp

I was warned that every Thanksgiving dinner in New York City and the surrounding area would feature at least one conversation about whether the Giants and Jets would reach the Super Bowl this season.

Not my table. My family knows better.

Because you see, they were with me for the Mud Bowl, Bernie Kosar, Pete Carroll's choke symbol, Blair Thomas, Roger Vick, Kyle Brady, Vinny Testaverde's achilles, Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler having injuries end their seasons in the same quarter, Herm Edwards' clock management, and Dewayne Robertson. They know that November is way too early to be talking about Super Bowl ... whether the Giants are a part of it or not.

Believe me, I don't want to be a killjoy about this. I'm as excited about the Jets being 8-3 as anyone ... because this isn't like Al Groh going 9-4 where you still sensed doom was coming (and doom did indeed arrive at the Jets' door in 2000) ... this is a legitimate 8-3. And there really is no good reason for this Jets team not to go to the Super Bowl ... well, except for the fact that they are still the Jets, they still wear green, and inevitably that Joe Walton playbook is going to get dusted off at some point. But other than that, this is a Super Bowl caliber team in this season's AFC.

But unfortunately, we live in a sports society that spends too much time looking at the forest that it bonks its collective nose on every tree it tries to walk through. It's the same reason why we ask LeBron James about playing in New York in 2010 when we just started 2008 (the basketball season ... not the calendar year). It's why we make predictions for the 2009 World Series two days after the 2008 World Series ends. It's why we start talking about a Swamp Super Bowl (last I checked, no subways in East Rutherford ... only swamp) after week 12.

You know as well as I do that there's a long way to go ... whether you're a Jet fan like me, or a Giant fan. Now I'm convinced that the Giants just need to stay out of their own way to make a return trip to the Super Bowl ... but I'm sure a Giant fan will tell you that it's a different vibe being the favorite as opposed to being that scrappy underdog that everybody (besides Cowboys fans) rooted against the Patriots. That target on your back weighs a ton. But besides that, it sure as hell looks good for them.

The Jets? Their schedule looks like cake the rest of the way ... certainly easier than what Pittsburgh has, paving the way for a two seed and a bye week in the AFC. But the Jets have repeatedly choked on cake in the past (despite the fact that cake has no bones). How about losing to a 4-12 Bears team during Week 15 in 2002 to make it almost impossible to make the playoffs that season? (They got their miracle that final week when Dave Wannestedt gave away the division title by losing to the Pats setting up the Jets to win the title against Green Bay.) Or how about '97? You surely remember that season for the ill fated Leon Johnson halfback option during their season ending loss to the Lions that season. But do you remember a 22-14 loss to the 1-12 Colts two weeks earlier? That would have made the Lions game meaningless.

But the real reason it's way too early to talk about a Jets/Giants Super Bowl: Because if it does happen, we'll have a whole two weeks to talk about nothing except a Jets/Giants Super Bowl ... to the point where even Jets and Giants fans will want to poke their ears out from hearing all of the mindless "blah blah blah" from people that know nothing of an oblong shaped ball with pointy ends until January when they're all of a sudden "experts".

You know, like me.

So let's enjoy the journey, which will have plenty of football to keep us entertained along the way. Good or bad, things will work themselves out. And if we do get that Swamp Super Bowl, believe me, there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss. But for now ... Denver at the Meadowlands at 4:15 on Sunday will provide enough consternation and acid reflux, thank you.

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