The Schizophrenic NFL
Sorry to blow the lid off such an impenetrable force as the NFL, but it's so easy to do these days.
There’s a blatant trend afoot, and it reeks of conspiracy!
Simply put, teams are purposefully alternating between winning and losing – looking horrible, then looking great -- from week to week just so you can lose money!
They may or may not be in cahoots with those green visor types in Las Vegas.
Sound ridiculous? Maybe, but that’s what they told Einstein.
I mean, how else do you explain it?
- It’s not because teams are evenly matched and the parity of the league means that a team can look horrible one week and great the next.
- It’s not because teams that struggle go through their requisite come to Jesus moments and literally will themselves to turn things around.
It’s solely and specifically because teams have it out for you! They know you think you’ve got it all figured out.
Team X played like crap? Great! That means they’re a crap team! That means they’re going down this week and, quite possibly, every week. And especially this week, when they have to travel to Team Y, who laid a beatdown on Team Z (and don’t even get me started on Team Z).
And then, lo and behold, what happens? Team X whups up on Team Y.
How and why does this happen?
OK, I’m willing to set the conspiracy theory aside and look at what the conformists say.
Practice, Practice, Practice
So after a butt whippin’, presumably what happens is teams return to their homes feeling none too well about their Sunday showing. The coaches look them in eye, say a few choice words, and then get down to the task of fixing the problems.
Now, in my reality, these teams have problems that are beyond fixing. If you show a problem on Sunday, then that problem is yours for the duration of all Sundays. But some coaches and players actually believe that’s not true and that those problems can be fixed. So they set out the next week to isolate those problems and then work their tails off to fix them. I guess sometimes it works.
Good Old-Fashioned Anger
Look, nobody likes to be beaten like a drum – especially on national television -- with their livelihood on the line. It’s enough to piss you off and then fire you back up. Often times, this fuel carries over to the following week, and the memory of the pain of the lashings keeps a team inspired and playing surprisingly well.
The Element of Surprise
A common refrain throughout the NFL, especially among coaches, is put it on film. Ignoring for the moment that this is the 21st century and the only film anymore is what's on your windshield after parking under a willow, this refers to the ubiquitous nature of cameras around any and all practices and games (not counting the ones in bushes and on hilltops; right Patriots?).
Every play ever run by a team throughout a week goes on video. And a lot of it is given to a team’s future opponent – up to three games, as requested -- as mandated by the league. But what those opponents choose to see on it is completely up to them. If they watch your implosion from the week before, they might choose to believe that’s who you are.
They may suddenly decide to go lax, thinking they’ve got an easy win. Oh, sure, they’ll say all the right things to the media. But in reality, breakdown or no, they figure they’ve got it made. That’s when you ride in on your Trojan horse and take them by surprise!
You Ain't So Bad
Rocky’s taunt of Clubber Lang put an '80s spin on the word bad, and then Team X’s performance brought it right back around to the standard, classic definition.
But wait! Maybe that’s just not reality. Maybe there was a special set of circumstances last week that caused a gridiron meltdown. The truth is that some teams just need a little seasoning, or they need to get away from the unfriendly confines of Team Y’s raucous stadium. Or they need to get a couple key people healthy.
It’s easy for the casual fan to assign a label to a team after one miserable showing. But before you fill out your next Pick ‘Em pool, beware. This is the NFL, and it needs a serious dose of meds.