The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

The Year of Surprise

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In China 2008 was the Year of the Rat, in the NFL 2008 has been year of the surprise.

Let's review:

When the season began, New England was coming off a nearly perfect 2007 and favored to win it all. The Dallas Cowboys were the odds-on favorite to win the NFC, and viewed by many as the only team capable of ousting the Patriots. And if they didn't, it had to be the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who had put the "1" on New England's 18-1 2007. Many "experts," including some here at the League, picked Cleveland as a postseason lock.

In Baltimore, the Ravens had lost Steve McNair, and with no seemingly viable quarterback, they were expected to be last in the AFC North. Miami was going to compete, once again, for the worst record in football (could they be the first 0-16 team?), and Matt Leinart was the hot, starting quarterback in Arizona.

Hard to believe that was only four months ago.

Since then Tom Brady got hurt, the Pats missed the playoffs, the Cowboys imploded, Plaxico Burress shot himself, and the Browns befouled the dog pound. Meantime Joe Flacco revitalized Baltimore, Miami revitalized the single-wing formation and rode it into the playoffs, and Kurt Warner revitalized his career and the Cardinals franchise (thanks in part to Leinart revitalizing the beer funnel). There have been ties, never before seen scores, and rookie coaches and quarterbacks proving that experience is overrated. About the only thing expected to happen in 2008 was that the regular season lasted 17 weeks and Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis revealed himself to be the human incarnation of C. Montgomery Burns.

After such a rollercoaster season, it seems irresponsible to believe that championship weekend will be any different. Perhaps the biggest surprise now would be no surprise at all. The AFC Championship game should be a clash of titanic defenses, with a single-digit over-under -- it could go either way, but I'm taking the Steelers. The NFC Championship game should be a pass-happy affair with a triple-digit over-under -- I'm taking the Eagles, but wouldn't be surprised if they blew it.

At this point, though, the only thing that could shock me is if Fan Man dropped in from the heavens. One can only hope that 2009 -- the Year of the Cow -- is a little more tame.

By Emil Steiner  |  January 16, 2009; 2:05 PM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Baltimore Ravens , Emil Steiner , Philadelphia Eagles , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Throwing Surprise Party | Next: Cards Win? That'd Be Surprising

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