Friday, November 26, 2010

Can I get some cotton candy to go with that prediction?

If I had predicted right after the 2010 draft that by mid-season the Dallas Cowboys would be in last place in the NFC East and Wade Phillips would be given walking papers, you would have argued with me. You would have talked about a roster rich with talent, and pointed out that the Cowboys clenched their division decisively against the Eagles in 2009.

If I then had gone on to predict that the Vikings – with Brett Favre back under center – would be 4 games back from first place in the NFC North behind not only the Packers, but ALSO the Bears - AND that their coach, Brad Childress, would be canned, AND Randy Moss would be cut loose, you would have thought I had completely lost it, right?

Let’s say I then added that the Raiders, with Jason Campbell at QB, would be making a serious run at winning the AFC West and that the Bengals, with “premier” wide-outs Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, would be last in the AFC North behind the Browns.
After all this, wouldn’t you have called in a prescription for crazy pills?
Looking at the NFL season thus far, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder how on earth anyone who calls themselves an “expert” on the NFL could make such certain predictions before the season starts. Here in Arizona, our color analyst for the Cardinals, Ron Wolfley, calls these predictions an “affront to the athletic process.” I would have to agree.
Clearly, the human dynamics involved in this fiercely competitive league make it silly to think there are any “givens” in any given season. The cliché “any given Sunday” came to be cliché for a reason – it’s accurate. The balance of team chemistry, injuries, contract negotiations, and the alignment of the planets inevitably conspire to keep parity alive and well.

And, this is why we love the NFL, right? Isn’t that what makes it worth your time to watch and cheer? Think about a movie that was spoiled for you, either because key plot points were given away by a friend or because it had been so totally overhyped it could not live up to your expectations.

This begs the question: since most of these expert predictions end up being about as accurate as the fortune teller at a parking lot carnival, what is the point of all the pontification?

The point is, we love the carnival.