So, we are finished with the first two post-season/pre-Super Bowl weekends, and they completed themselves with a wonderful Blakian symmetry.
Of course, we have to go back to Week 9, at which point every team had a pair of losses, something that had not occurred since 1959. And, well, I guess that means parity in the NFL has kind of gone out the window. It also means a 25th Anniversary Super Bowl rematch of the Bears and Patriots will not be happening.
For now even the three teams deemed to be the most dominant--New Orleans, Atlanta, and New England--have gone home. It also means the upstart Seahawks have hit the road, and the Ravens, who were pretty good, are now toast as well.
How did this happen?
So, much like their winning team of a couple of years ago, the Steelers came back looking like the AFC team to beat. They just have to make sure the Jets--who dispensed with the Pats, who earlier in the year pasted New York--are privy to the schema. But, Week 15, New York beat the Steelers 22-17. That was the week the Ravens beat the Saints 30-24.
Now, don't forget over a six-day period the Patriots pasted the Jets and the Bears by a total of 81-10. But, that right after that the Packers almost beat the Patriots behind a back-up QB while Aaron Rogers recovered from a concussion.
Coach Rex Ryan has indicated that his Jets win over the Patriots is the second biggest win franchise history. And that could be right (for the Jets win over the Colts in Super Bowl III is arguably the most important game in NFL history).
Now Ryan has to face the Steelers, a team his Jets have already bested this year. But, of course, the same could be said about the Pats and Jets, so all bets are off there.
As for the Packers and Bears, we simply have the two teams who have faced one another most in NFL history, though oddly, this is only the second time the teams have squared off for a championship.
The teams played it very close during the season, with the Bears winning the first match-up Week 3, 20-17, while the Pack returned the favor the final week of the season, 10-3. Oh yeah, both winners were the visitors. Furthermore if you think Chicago wanted to face Green Bay in the playoffs, ask yourself why the Bears played their starters the entire final regular season game.
It was so they could knock Green Bay out of the playoff picture, which a Chicago win would have accomplished.
Like it or not, the two strongest teams are two of the storied ones: Green Bay and Pittsburgh. Not that the Jets and Bears are far behind. Just enough to make me wonder.
Of course, if this year's history means anything, it will be Jets and Bears, all the way.