YOu Denver homers are missing the point here. It happens in every sport- a dynasty type team stops caring too much about the regular season and just coasts through it while an upstart team has a better regular season record. I could name tons of examples, but heres one: Phoenix, not SA or Det, had the best NBA record last year. Do you really think they were the best team?
With that said, this game is impossible for me to predict. HOnestly, I could see either team blowing the other out. I really have no clue what to expect here, but until the Pats lose in the playoffs, I'll go with them.
It does NOT happen in every sport. It happens in basketball, and it happens in baseball. And there are very good reasons for why in both cases. Allow me to explain.First, basketball. This one is easy. There are 30 teams. 16 teams make the playoffs. That's over 50%- including many teams with a losing record. In addition, no playoff teams get a substantial bonus based on where they finished the season (there are no bye weeks, and if I recall correctly, the NBA Postseason does not feature reseeding every round so the highest remaining seed always faces the lowest). As such, there's not a whole lot of motivation to finish with the best record in basketball. Quite honestly, it doesn't matter. Even home court advantage isn't that big, especially since the first round expanded to a best-of-seven series, because now 4/7ths of the games (57%) will be played at home.
Second, baseball. Again, another easy one. Two words- pitching rotation. To get a lot of wins in the regular season, you're going to need 5 good starting pitchers. Your best pitcher only plays one out of every 5 games. In the postseason, however, teams usually go to a 3 or 4 man rotation- which means that teams with only 3 quality pitchers might not perform well in the regular season, but become very dangerous once they reach the playoffs and shorten their rotation. Houston last year was a great example of this. Please note that the shortened rotation thing also has some effect on basketball, where starters typically get more minutes and fewer bench players are used in the postseason.
Hockey might very well behave in a similar matter, since they share a similar playoff format with basketball (high percentage of teams make it, no bye weeks, as far as I know there's no reseeding, and home ice only applies to 57% of the games even if you're the #1 seed). To be honest, I've never followed hockey closely enough to say one way or another.
Now compare this to football. First, there are only 16 games (as opposed to 82 or 162), so it's a lot easier to maintain your focus. Second, the teams with the best records get a first-round bye, which is HUGE, historically. That provides plenty of motivation to finish with the best record in the league. Third, a very small percentage of the teams make the playoffs, and with the constant churn, no spot is guaranteed (only 5 of 12 playoff squads from last year returned there this year). Fourth, HFA is *HUGE* in football, since home field guarantees you that 100% of your playoff games will be played at home (or in a neutral site, in the case of a SB), as opposed to basketball, baseball, or hockey, where the best it guarantees you is a 57% margin.
Yes, in baseball, basketball, or possibly hockey, teams regularly mail in the regular season- however, suggesting that teams do the same thing in football (aside from when their playoff seeding is set) is just ignorant.
To further reinforce this point... last season, a 51% winning percentage would have netted you a trip to the NBA postseason. This year, no team made the postseason with a worse than 62.5% winning percentage (and that wasn't even good enough for Kansas City, who was sitting at home with a 62.5% win rate).
By your logic, teams shouldn't gameplan for Darrell Jackson. After all, he only has 482 yards receiving this year. Whatever you do, don't look at his 368 yards receiving through the first four games, or his 72 yards receiving and a TD in the last full game he played, because that's only a small sample size. He's obviously not a good receiver.
And please, don't bother me with ancient history. Who cares that he has over 150 catches for over 3300 yards and 16 TDs in the last two years - all that counts is 2005.
By your logic, I'm sure Carolina will be thrilled to learn that the Bears won't be passing the ball, as their QB only has 259 yards passing this year. Although the Bears will be happy to note that Deshaun Foster only has 2 TDs and less than 1000 yards this year. Clearly the Panthers don't run the ball, and NEVER near the goal line.
Or maybe - just maybe - you knew what you were doing when you picked Steve Smith and Shaun Alexander as examples of guys with good regular season stats who should do well in the playoffs. It's possible, if not likely, that you know that Denver isn't coming off the same kind of injuries that New England is. And - if you'll excuse the wild, conspiracy-theory allegations - I secretly suspect that you know that the reason Denver's 2005 regular season numbers look so much better than New England's 2005 regular season numbers has SOMETHING to do with the injuries.
Just like Darrell Jackson's.
First off, I know that Darrell Jackson is still suspect- no one knows how good he'll be until he actually gets out there and plays.Second, if you look at Darrell Jackson on a per-game basis, you see that his regular season statistics were extremely good. So you wouldn't be discounting him based on the regular season, you'd be NOT discounting him based on the regular season. Your arguements are silly and pointless, since they completely ignore PER GAME numbers. The numbers you gave me are for Rex Grossman and Darrell Jackson who only played a handful of games each. The numbers *I* gave *you* are for New England, who played 16 games.
Third, even if you COMPLETELY DISCOUNT the games New England played with any players injured, the fact remains that they did not play as well this season as Denver did.
Fourth, if you want to bring up history, are you going to say that Corey Dillon is one of the most dangerous rushers in the postseason, since he had a great year in 2004? Or are you going to say that New England's rushing attack is pretty weak, because he had such a bad year in 2005? Which is more relevant? Should Denver expect to see the 2004 version of Corey Dillon this week, the one who averaged 4.7 yards per carry, or should Denver expect to see the 2005 version that's averaging 3.5 yards per carry? Likewise, should Denver expect to see the 2004 version of Tom Brady, who completed 60.8% of his passes, or the 2005 version, who completed 63% of his passes? Should Denver expect to see the 2004 version of Bruschi, who was totally healthy, or the 2005 version, who didn't play a down last week? Should Denver expect to see the 2004 Patriots LT, Matt Light, or the 2005 Patriots LT (was it Kaczur? I dunno, the rookie)?
So wait, let's see if I've got this straight... this season, Denver will be facing the 2005 version of Tom Brady, the 2005 version of Corey Dillon, the 2005 version of Matt Light, the 2005 version of Tedy Bruschi, the 2005 version of Rodney Harrison, and the 2005 version of Ty Law... yet somehow, what the 2004 versions of all of those players did will be more predictive of this New England team than what the 2005 versions of those players did?