Twenty-five predictions for the playoffs:
1. Some Vikings fans take off their shirts Sunday afternoon at Minnesota, where the forecast is calling for a high temperature of 2 degrees. NBC cameras zoom in on the fans, because idiocy is infinitely more telegenic than prudence.
2. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll informs the sideline reporter at halftime that the extreme weather is something his team is hard-wired to ignore. Carroll is lying, of course, and he knows that we know he’s lying.
3. The Hawks advance with a 24-10 victory, after which Carroll tells reporters: “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t freeze our tails off.”
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4. While attempting to explain the inexplicable meaning of the rally chant inspired by Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins – “You Like That?!” – Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck concludes: “It is what it is.”
5. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers rediscovers his MVP throwing touch, completing a downfield pass to a receiver for the first time all season. But the Redskins prevail in a 28-27 thriller.
6. Fox insider Jay Glazer tweets that according to a confidential but reliable source, the ’Skins beat the Packers, 28-27.
7. Kansas City running back Charcandrick West alternates with Spencer Ware in the playoff opener Saturday at Houston, proving that the challenge isn’t to spell Ware. The challenge is to spell “Charcandrick.”
8. After the Chiefs’ 26-20 victory extends their winning streak to 11, ESPN’s Chris Berman notes that K.C.’s last defeat came two weeks before the football team’s next-door neighbors, the Royals, celebrated a World Series championship.
“Kansas City, Kansas City here I come. They got a crazy way of winning there,” Berman sings during the Sunday night wrap-up show. The expression on the face of co-host Tom Jackson is one of bemusement and fear.
9. In what amounts to a rubber game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, fierce intradivisional opponents that went 1-1 against each other during regular season games that resembled bare-knuckled brawls, the Steelers ride their lucky-to-be-alive mojo and advance.
10. ESPN reports that running back Marshawn Lynch has informed the Seahawks of his plans to retire immediately, in order to pursue a career as a mixed martial arts fighter.
11. The NFL Network confirms the news, but notes that Lynch is calling it quits because he’s planning to serve as host of a weeknight talk show in Turkey.
12. On Jan. 16, the Patriots beat the Chiefs in overtime at New England, where Bill Belichick’s team avoids the misfortune of winning the OT coin toss.
13. Upon eliminating the ’Skins, Arizona coach Bruce Arians begins his postgame press conference with three words: “You like that?!”
14. Oddsmakers install Seattle as slight underdogs at Carolina, but the Seahawks defense is all over quarterback Cam Newton. The league’s presumptive MVP throws two fourth-quarter interceptions as the Hawks win, 20-16.
15. After the victory, wide receiver Doug Baldwin points out how nobody – not one single person – gave the Seahawks any chance to survive.
16. The Al Jazeera news agency’s report that Denver quarterback Peyton Manning obtained HGH, a performance-enhancer banned throughout sports, goes unmentioned during CBS’ coverage of the Broncos’ playoff opener against Pittsburgh. Al Jazeera? For networks anxious to continue their comfy-cozy relationship with the NFL, Al Jazeera sounds like the name of a nickel back acquired last month off the waiver wire.
17. The final pass of Manning’s brilliant career is a wobbly, wind-blown lob intercepted by Al Jazeera.
18. Lynch returns from retirement and helps the Seahawks beat Arizona, 27-24, in the NFC championship. Four missed extra-point attempts by Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro prove to be pivotal.
19. Catanzaro’s life is saved when police break up the mob of hooligans chasing him on foot in southern Nevada. Bruce Arians is among the 142 arrested.
20. New England quarterback Tom Brady, ailing with strained dimples and a deep bruise in the cleft of his chin, throws a last-second pass almost intercepted by Steelers safety Will Allen. But Allen slips on the snowy field and tips the ball into the hands of Rob Gronkowski for the 54-yard touchdown that gives the AFC champion Patriots a 32-31 victory.
21. On their first day of practice in preparation for the Super Bowl rematch against New England, the Seahawks take the field without Lynch, raising concerns about his whereabouts.
22. Lynch assures television viewers in Turkey that he’s alive and well.
23. During a Super Bowl 50 pregame show longer than a Labor Day telethon, three hours are devoted to the Russell Wilson pass that decided Super Bowl 49. The other two hours are devoted to investigative report on why the Seahawks receivers tap their wrists when they catch a touchdown pass, a history of eye black, and Brian Urlacher’s decision to finally grow hair.
24. The Seahawks win, 28-24, when Lynch bulls off tackle for a 1-yard touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.
25. According to sources corroborated by Fox, ESPN and the NFL Network, it is established that 28-24 was the score of last year’s Super Bowl, and the question of whether or not that defines “ironic” is posed during a presidential debate.
John McGrath: firstname.lastname@example.org