NFL, BCS Make Fantastic Football Weekend
January 6, 2014

Maybe its not the most exciting thing in the world, but I was looking forward to spending the first weekend of 2014 at home, doing some cleaning, and watching some football. The cleaning part certainly wasn't exciting, but with the news of cold weather and snow back east, I figured the football would be pretty fun. I was right, except for the snow.

The NFL playoffs began Saturday afternoon. I figured the first game would be the most boring, because it was played indoors. No snow drifts or ice bowls in Indianapolis, but with outdoor games to come in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and suburban Milwaukee, the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapols Colts would be the warmup, Instead, it was the most exciting game of the weekend. Well, at least the second half was. The Chiefs were in the process of putting away the Colts 38-10 early in the second half. I had the vacuum cleaner out, the dishwasher was running, and piles of laundry were ready to head to the washing machine. But lo and behold, Indy came up with one of the biggest comebacks in league history, and beat K-C 45-44. The laundry would have to wait.

Okay, great game, but now outside to Philadelphia where, much to my dismay, there was no snow and it really wasn't all that cold. Much was made of the fact that the New Orleans Saints were perfect at home in their dome, and don't seem to like to play outside. A late field goal won it for New Orleans 26-24, and so much for that. Two games the first day, decided by one and two points respectively.

I got up Sunday morning and put on my Chargers shirt, knowing it wasn't very likely that a team that won its last four games, but never really played like it belonged in the playoffs, could win in the cold of Cincinnati. Again, no snow, and it was actually raining at kickoff, only lightly. Surprisingly, the San Diego Super Chargers not only won, they had the biggest blowout of the weekend, pulling away with a 27-10 victory. The dishwasher is humming now.

The only thing better than a Charger win, would be watching the San Francisco 49ers literally freeze their you-know-whats off at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field—Green Bay, Wisconsin. No snow, but gametime temperature 5 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -13. The field was brown. This wasn't frozen tundra, it was frozen mud. No way the Forty Winos from California could win in this. So what happens? Phil Dawson nails a field goal as time expires, and the Niners win it 23-20. A one point game, a two-point game, a three-point game, a Charger blowout, and even some cleaning accomplished. Not bad.

But wait, there's more! College football holds its national championship tonight. Number one and unbeaten Florida State, against number two from the SEC (seven straight titles) Auburn Tigers. Auburn rolls out to a 21-3 lead. Florida State looks terrible. You know what that means, don't you? Of course, the Seminoles rally. A 100-yard kickoff return gives FSU a 27-24 lead but Auburn scores with 1:19 to retake the lead at 31-27. But with 13 seconds left, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston completes a two-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin for a touchdown. Extra point good. Florida State wins 34-31. Four of the five games this weekend decided by three points or less. Some of that laundry is still sitting there. Guess I'll do it tomorrow when there are no distractions.

West Coast offense: Eight teams remain in the NFL playoffs, and half of them are in a western division—Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC, and Denver and San Diego in the AFC. Also, if the Arizona Cardinals had beaten the Niners Sunday and gotten some help, they would have been 11-5 and the second wild card, making 6 of 12 teams, and all four wild cards from the West.

NFL by the numbers: So much for the cold weather teams having the advantage. The only home team that won was the Indianapolis Colts, and they played indoors, and had to come from a four-touchdown deficit to do it...The only home team this weekend that had a better record than its opponent was the Cincinnati Bengals, and they suffered the worst defeat...Forty Niner fans are still championing this idea. If the Niners face the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game, it will be played at Candlestick Park.

BCS by the numbers: The BCS era lasted 16 years. The number-one ranked team won 8 times, and the second ranked team won 8 times...Until tonight, a Southeastern Conference school had won the title seven years in a row, but it was not an SEC school that played in the most championship games. Florida State and Oklahoma each were in four title tilts...Tonight's game, and the 2007 game between Texas and USC (both at the Rose Bowl) were the closest games in BCS title history (three point margins), unless you count 2003. Ohio State beat Miami 31-24, but in double overtime.

More B(C)S: Oh by the way, the New Year's games weren't too bad either. I was rooting for Stanford to beat Michigan State, but the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls were all good. Remember when all of those games were played on New Year's Day? Oh, well.

Be careful what you wish for: I have certainly been at the head of the line (so to speak), calling for a guillotine to the BCS, but next year, when college football goes to a four-team playoff, a committee will decide the four teams, and not some computer ranking system. This year's top four teams by ranking were Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, and Michigan State, but perhaps a committee could have chosen Stanford or even Oregon. You know there will be people crying foul next year...If you used next year's formula to determine this year's champion, it might go something like this. Florida State would have played Michigan State, and Auburn would have faced Alabama (yep, a rematch of a game played Thanksgiving weekend) in each semifinal. The NCAA says they won't let rematches get in the way of playoff seeding, but without a BCS-type ranking system, how will we know? Also, the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl will be the two national semifinals, meaning no Pac 12-Big 10 matchup in Pasadena next year.

Frozen Big House: Did you watch the NHL Winter Classic New Year's Day? To me, the only thing special about a hockey game outdoors is if it's snowing. Snow, 100,000 people, and two storied franchises made for a great game. I don't think the upcoming Kings-Ducks game at Dodger Stadium will be that special, but I'll probably watch anyway.

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