Monday, November 10, 2008

Are the Titans Lucky, Good, Both, or Neither?

The Titans are 9-0 and are drumming up excitement like back in 1999. That team was also famously offense-deprived and their defense was also bend-but-don't-break, leading up to that improbable Super Bowl run. Back then, though, I remember feeling some confidence in the team. This year's undefeated version seems destined to fail every week.

This is not a question we ask in the pre-salary cap era. The salary cap has redefined what being good in the NFL is, to the point we still don't know what the hell it is when we're supposed to see it. All of the teams currently vying for playoff positions are so deeply flawed, I think the NFL has become the least predictable of the sports, even though currently all sports are mired in some form of mediocrity being passed off as great.

The Phillies are champions of the MLB, but would have lost to a great many of the teams that won championships before it. The Celtics were last year's best NBA team and were pushed to the brink by a losing-record, but playoff-bound, Atlanta Hawks team. And in hockey, although the Red Wings were the best team and won the Stanley Cup, the Nashville Predators came fairly close (closer than RW fans would like) to ousting them in the first round.

But the Titans are riding what so many teams in this era that have won Super Bowls have been riding: that, "I don't see how they do it, but they do it," mantra that the earlier Patriots winners, the Ravens, Steelers, and Giants have all enjoyed. But the Titans' success could end just like that (snappping fingers), so uneasy is the precipice in the NFL. I don't know what to make of this team. Somehow they've scored the 4th most points in the AFC and lead the entire league in scoring defense. It's kind of hard to get truly excited. I get the feeling they could lose 7 games in a row after this and it wouldn't be a surprise.

OK, dumb media alert: I saw some comment on ESPN on Sunday that said the Jaguars, the Titans' next opponent, have some sort of pent-up feelings about that 1999 season where they lost 3 games, all to the Titans, including the AFC Championship. Those who know me know where I'm going with this: how many players are still around, from both teams, from 1999? For the Jags...Fred Taylor...isn't that about it? Titans: Jevon Kearse, who played in Philly for the last few seasons. I guess it could be a "war of hard feelings" between two players festering hard feelings for 9 years after they've already played each other once this season...but it at least seems insignificant. I don't know...maybe I'm dumb.

Labels: , ,


At 11/11/2008 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

A few quick comments here.

Basically, I agree. I don't get the feeling that they're all that great, but I don't see anyone else who's really better. I enjoy watching them because they are my team, not because they are awesome to watch. Typically they struggle a bit in the first half, and Collins makes a mistake or two, and then they settle down while the other team doesn't. Not thrilling stuff.

I've found myself more invested in college football this year, likely because of Vandy's early run, but also because of the fans. I've watched enough soccer to know how great fans can be, and there is truly where ours are. And I like that a Texas Tech can make a run like this, but I can still enjoy watching teams that are well above the rest. There is real competition, and excellent teams! Why is it sometimes that I feel I'm watching higher quality football on the college level when I know it's not the case? Maybe because there is less parity, so one team can truly show their class?

The older I get, the less attached I am to certain teams, and the more I want to watch great teams. Case in point: I'm not a big FC Barcelona fan, but I have not missed a televised game in the last three weeks. They've been killing everybody, putting up six goals on at least three occasions. And it's glorious football, sport of the highest order. To exaggerate only slightly, they are gods that the fans come to worship. Have you recently looked at pro sports over here and had your jaw drop at the excellence, the majestic play? A feeling you would get from visting a beautiful cathedral, or a brilliant coastline? Of course not, and that's a debilitating failure.

But, in Spain, there is a 80% change either Barcelona or Real Mardrid will win the title this year. And every year for the forseeable future. In England there is a 99.9% chance that one or four teams will win it all. That's not good at all. There has to be a better balance somehwere, but we haven't found it. I just hope someone with some influence actually asks the question one of these days.

At 11/11/2008 11:08:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

And one more point: you mentioned how often the top teams lose in the first round of the playoffs. Take a look at the winning percentages in the top four sports here. The best teams in the NBA and NFL have a much higher winning percentage than the other two. Baseball's is so low that anybody can beat anybody else in a seven game series, making it unfair. Hockey's the same. It's not the case in basketball, where the best team is far more likely to win a seven game set, because they are far more likely to win a single game.

The funny thing is, the NBA may have the best combo of great teams and parity, but nobodies watching. I'm sure not. Now I'm starting to think that we really have over-expanded in sports. Man, I'd love a Promotion/Relegation system here, but most people have never heard of such a beast.


Post a Comment

<< Home