Let's start with the NFL. The playoffs are going on as we type, with the Wildcard games going on right now. Houston got us started by beating the Bengals, the Lions are playing the Saints in the kind of game that will be determined by a big defensive play...
Football's hot stove league is already started, with speculation about who will draft who. Coaches and GMs are being fired and hired. Probably the biggest stunner was the firing of the Polians, Bill and Chris from their executive positions. Mind you, this is after one losing season--it will be interesting to see how Colts owner Robert Irsay fills this position, which will be essential to get right as they have that number 1 draft choice and tough choices about personnel and coaches. The Colts are not the only ones with firings and hirings. The Rams, Chiefs, Bucs, Jags and Dolphins are in the process of looking for coaches. Chicago, and St. Louis are also looking for GMs.
After 40 years of watching football I have come to a few conclusions about how to have a winning team. While having a good quarterback is very important, he does not have to be a HOFer level guy. Someone who is consistent, disciplined and makes few mistakes is good enough. A good team has all the bits to a greater or lesser degree: line play that is strong enough that they can push the opponent around much of the time, smart players that don't make many mistakes, depth of team where guys are good enough to step up in the face of injuries, team speed (can't coach it), coaches that complement each other. When you see a team like the Chiefs that have some good bits, but are missing important parts, or don't play the same from week to week, you know you are not looking at the Super Bowl champion.
As to the current crop of playoff teams, the Giants, who really sucked during parts of the season, are playing much better. Your solid teams are the Packers and Saints and they will be hard to upset. Both can be had by playing sturdy defense, keeping the ball on offense and not getting behind on the scoreboard. Can any of the NFC playoff teams do that--Giants, San Francisco, Atlanta or Detroit? In the AFC, it has been a surprise how many are making the Steelers-Broncos game their upset special. Many think the Broncs will beat the Steelers. It really rests on the Bronco defense, to stifle the undermanned and injured Steeler offense. If Tebow and company can run and move against the Pittsburgh defense, then the donkeys have a chance. If the Denver defense has to play the whole game, eventually they will wear out, and Pittsburgh will win. Waiting in the wings: the Patriots who have quietly, but efficiently been winning with offense. Cinncinati has already bowed out, but a nice year for the Bengals. It will be tough for Houston to move on with their number 3 QB at the helm.
So an interesting playoff and an interesting off season--what more can a fan want?