Well, the Divisional round of the NFL Post-Season is upon us and it’s time to look at a few time honored mantras we hear every year around now that are kind outdated. Let’s begin:
Myth #1: Having momentum going into the playoffs is a big deal!
Nah, not really. Is it nice to be playing well going into the post-season? Sure. But Uncle Mo is not vital to playoff success. The Steelers were rolling into the playoffs, winners of four in a row and five of six. What did all of that momentum get them? I quick trip home for the winter. The Ravens were 3-1 in December but it might have been the worst 3-1 in history. Baltimore was not steamrolling their way into the tournament and the Ravens are the team who is advancing.
Also, remember in 2012 when the Ravens lost four of their last five and limped into the playoffs on both legs… How did that turn out? Oh yeah, they won the Super Bowl. And New Orleans in 2009 lost their last three games before going on to win the Super Bowl. Remember all of this when one of the “experts” on TV tell you how important momentum is going into the playoffs.
Myth #2: Home Field “Advantage”
Another great line from all of the TV “experts” is how important getting the bye and home field advantage through the playoffs is to teams. Well, six of the last nine Super Bowl Champions played Wild Card Weekend. And three of the last four Super Bowl Champs won their Conference Championship Games on the road. Again, in 2012 the Ravens won the AFC Championship Game in New England.
Myth #3: Pats are unbeatable at home
You hear all of the time about how the New England Patriots getting home field is a big deal in the playoffs and how money they are at home. Now this used to be true but not anymore. Up until 2007, the Pats were pretty unbeatable on their home turf. From the Tuck Game win over Oakland in overtime in 2001 until their undefeated regular season of 2007, New England didn’t lose a home playoff game. But after 2009, the Patriots have been eliminated from the post-season three times at Gillette Stadium. Two of those occasions, in 2009 and 2012, it was the Ravens who took the Pats out.
The bottom line is that the NFL is a crap shoot these days. We’ve seen two six seeds win the Super Bowl in the last ten years. We’ve seen Wild Card teams win the Super Bowl… We’ve seen squads win the Lombardi while playing all of their post-season games on the road. The tired old cliché, “When the Playoffs Start Everyone is 0-0” is true. The Ravens have a quarterback that has been top level in his last six post-season games, a head coach that has gotten his team to the playoffs six of the last seven years and in every one of those trips to the post-season his team has won at least one game. Baltimore also has a pass rush and players who have experience in winning on the road in the playoffs.
What does it mean? Beats the heck out of me, but one thing I think I know is that if you look at the Ravens post-season history under John Harbaugh, the Ravens might not win in New England but they will most likely be in it in the 4th quarter with a chance to win. In the Harbaugh Era, Baltimore has only really been blown out of one playoff game; after the 2009 season in Indy 20-3. And that’s all you can really ask for in the crazy world of the NFL.