A weekly NFL breakdown that heads in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.
1. The slightly better team lost in the NFC Championship Game. As Donovan McNabb pointed out after the game, the Cardinals had too much adrenaline in the first half for the Eagles to handle. If those teams play 10 times on a neutral field, Philly win eight times.
2. Everyone says they love watching smashmouth football. Really? All the head-hunting and injury timeouts made the Ravens' three-game postseason unwatchable. By the end of the Titans and Steelers games, the trainers had spent as much time on the field as some of the players. There was no flow and very few memorable plays. From an entertainment standpoint, the NFL is lucky Baltimore didn't advance. Pittsburgh vs. Arizona qualifies as a dud of a matchup, but the Ravens-Cardinals would have been far worse.
3. With two MVPs and now three Super Bowls on his resume, Kurt Warner is headed to the Hall of Fame. But that's only because the Hall has consistently lowered its standards and become the Hall of very good. Hall of Famers shouldn't be journeymen for big chunks of their career. Hall of Famers shouldn't consistently have to fight to start. A Hall of Famer should be so talented there's no question he belongs on the field.
Warner's inevitable enshrinement is an example of the media giving too much attention to quarterbacks, weighing Super Bowl championships too heavily and rewarding nice guys. The Hall voters might want to pull back their enshrinement classes a bit and elevate the level of player that makes it.
4. In Moneyball, Billy Beane said that the baseball playoffs were about luck. That seems to be the case in football over the last few years -- unless you consider helmet catches pure skill. Neither Arizona nor Philly should have even been in the playoffs. Don't even mention logic when it comes to this Super Bowl matchup.
5. If the shoes were on the other feet ... Can you imagine what Donovan McNabb could do with the Cardinals receivers and what Kurt Warner would do with the Eagles receivers?
6. Safeties have a right to complain about being paid less than cornerbacks. Defensive schemes and rules have changed to make play-making safeties more of a factor than ever before. It can't be an accident the final four teams in the playoffs were led by dominant safeties.
7. All sports need to stop voting for MVP before the playoffs. The NFL should force Peyton Manning to give his trophy to Larry Fitzgerald.
8. On the other hand ... there's no way Fitzgerald accumulates 100 receiving yards against the Steelers. Pittsburgh's coaching staff has two weeks to figure out how to slow him down and will make the other Cardinals offensive players beat them.
9. Make every call reviewable. Even if the whistle blows on the field, the official should be able use his discretion as to whether replay is applicable. Is there any doubt there will be a play in the Super Bowl that will cause the officials to meet for 10 minutes to decide if it's reviewable? The Steelers can barely get through the coin toss without a replay controversy.
One other rule note: Can they finally abolish the roughing the punter rule? We've babied the punters long enough. It's time for them to hit the weight room and man up.
10. If anyone ever thought the NFL fixed games to help big-market teams reach the Super Bowl, I give you Arizona vs. Pittsburgh. This is one area where the NFL should be more like the NBA. Admit it, you'd be a lot more excited to see the Cowboys and Patriots. The best thing you can say about Super Bowl XLIII is that you don't have to waste any DVR space recording it.