The NCAA is usually wrong on a lot of subjects, like paying players and dealing out fair punishment, but the one thing they’ve struck gold on is the men’s and women’s basketball championships.
March Madness has become a staple in American culture. Work productivity will more than likely decrease as we all sneak away to watch games. We also get the pleasure of watching our brackets burn because we know nothing about college basketball. The great thing about the tournament is that everyone who gets in has a chance to win it all. If that doesn’t sound like the American dream then it’s time to move.
Once the bracket was released I wondered, what if the NFL did something similar? What if they got rid of conferences for the playoffs and let the top twelve teams get in?
That will probably never happen in reality. This isn’t reality, though, so anything goes.
I created a bracket using the teams who made it to the playoffs last year. Four teams (Carolina, New England, Denver, and Arizona) earned first round byes. I used the same roster that teams used in the playoffs so Andy Dalton and others will be sitting this one out. Let’s look in on our first round matchups and see how everything turned out.
(9) Redskins vs. (8) Texans: The Texans are putrid at quarterback. They may get lucky and hit a few bombs to DeAndre Hopkins but can’t muster up enough offense to keep up with a conservative, balanced Redskins attack. Kirk Cousins manages the game and earns his first playoff victory. 17-10.
(12) Seahawks vs. (5) Bengals: My first upset of the tournament. The Red Rifle is hurt and the Legion of Boom is too much for AJ McCarron. Marshawn Lynch earns some hard yards and Russell Wilson makes enough plays to get out of Cincinnati with a win. 24-14
(11) Steelers vs. (6) Vikings: No Le’veon Bell, no Antonio Brown, no DeAngelo Williams, and no win for the Steelers. Adrian Peterson runs all over this defense and Teddy Bridgewater’s mistakes aren’t costly. Ben Roethlisberger makes it interesting in the end but it’s just not enough. 14-10.
(10) Packers vs. (7) Chiefs: I love me some Aaron Rodgers. He’s the best quarterback in the game and the ultimate equalizer. This game is a classic as we watch Rodgers try to outsmart this Chiefs defense. Alex Smith leads a clock eating offense that plays keep away from the Packers. Rodgers leads a game-tying drive in the fourth only to be picked off by Eric Berry as the Chiefs seal the win. 24-21.
(9) Redskins vs. (1) Panthers: The Redskins’ playoff victory is short lived as Cam Newton and the Panthers steamroll them back to DC. RGIII gets a chuckle while watching Cousins run for his life. 31-10.
(12) Seahawks vs. (4) Patriots: This Super Bowl rematch does not disappoint. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are unstoppable while Beast Mode and Wilson make a few plays of their own. The back and forth ends with a Brady fourth quarter drive that seals the deal with a game-winning field goal. 20-17.
(6) Vikings vs. (3) Broncos: This game is a lot closer than many would think. Peyton Manning and the Denver offense muster just enough to give their defense the lead. Von Miller takes care of the rest. Denver advances in a low-scoring, defensive struggle. 13-10.
(7) Chiefs vs. (2) Cardinals: The Cardinals are the most complete team in football and they show no signs of rust after a bye week. Tyrann Mathieu is missed but his absence isn’t fatal. Carson Palmer gets the monkey off of his back and wins his first playoff game with a comfortable lead. 24-10.
(4) Patriots vs. (1) Panthers: This matchup is Super Bowl worthy. Two great QBs battle it out in one of the best games in history. Gronk is unstoppable but Luke Kuechly does just enough to slow this offense down. Cam struggles against Belichick’s schemes but pulls off an amazing run to seal the win. 27-24.
(3) Broncos vs. (2) Cardinals: Both quarterbacks struggle to move the ball. The Broncos defense makes their presence felt with a pick-six right before halftime. After the break Palmer calms down and remembers that Larry Fitzgerald shines brightest when times are toughest. A gutsy performance advances him and the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. 21-17
Super Bowl L
(2) Cardinals vs. (1) Panthers: The two best teams battle it out again but on the biggest stage. Both teams are slow out of the gate but after shaking the jitters off start trading touchdowns. John Brown lines up in the slot and abuses Kuechly with his speed. Josh Norman shuts Fitzgerald down on the outside. Cam and Greg Olsen try to exploit the middle of the field but Deone Bucannon (a safety converted into a linebacker) has the speed to keep up and cover the 2nd team All-Pro Tight end. Newton shows why he’s the MVP and a once-in-a-lifetime athlete while willing his team back into the game. Sadly, his will is not enough as the Cardinals run the clock out and Newton suffers the same fate. Palmer is named MVP and he breaks the “USC Quarterback” stigma.
So there you have it, March Madness in January.
What did I get wrong? How stupid were my predictions? Feel free to let me know @mattgarrett41.
As always, thanks for reading.