Animal Bowl III

Last year I wrote a lengthy post about the possibility of the 2012 NFL season culminating in a “Bird Bowl” between the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons. Alas, the Har-Bowl prevailed and the Ravens remained the only “bird” team to win the Super Bowl and became the first bird team to win it twice.

2013 left us without an opportunity for a Bird Bowl as the defending champion Ravens failed to make the playoffs. However, the Seahawks and Eagles made it to the postseason and, of course, the Seahawks will play in the Super Bowl on Sunday. They are the eighth bird team to make the Super Bowl after the Eagles (1980, 2004), Falcons (1998), Ravens (2000, 2012), Cardinals (2008) and of course the Matt Hasselbeck-led Seahawks team (2005).

Notably, the Seahawks will be facing the Denver Broncos, another animal team. This is the third ever “Animal Bowl.” The first was in 1998 (Broncos over Falcons) and the second was in 2006 (Colts over Bears). I guess it’s just a thing for Elway and Manning.

While I obviously recommend you read the original Bird Bowl post (it has aged well after a year, if I do say so myself), I’ll copy this little bit from the end of that entry for your reading pleasure:

–Notable Super Bowl matchups between teams with similar/related names:

  • Colts over Cowboys (1970) – the Chisholm Trail Bowl
  • Raiders over Vikings (1976) – the Marauder Bowl
  • Cowboys over Broncos (1987) – the Rodeo Bowl
  • Redskins over Bills (1991) – the Wild West Show Bowl
  • Cowboys over Bills (1992 & 1993) – the Double Redundant Bowl
  • Ravens over Giants (2000) – the Game of Thrones Bowl
  • Buccaneers over Raiders (2002) – Brad Johnson’s finest hour
  • Patriots over Eagles (2004) – the Murrica Bowl
  • Packers over Steelers (2010) – the Blue Collar Bowl

[and, particularly apropos given the recent attention to Washington’s NFL team]

–While the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs both made the playoffs in 1971, 1990, 1991 and 1992, the closest we’ve come to an “Insensitivity Bowl” was in 1991 when the Redskins won the Super Bowl and the Chiefs lost in the divisional round.

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Quarter-Back Again: Elite-ness Revisited

So, Joe Flacco got himself a Super Bowl ring (and a Super Bowl MVP award, despite any arguments in favor of Jacoby Jones). Does that make him an elite quarterback? I expressed some of my thoughts at length earlier and I more or less declared that, prior to the Super Bowl at least, Flacco was not an elite QB. Now that he’s won, I’m prepared to reevaluate and modify my original ideas, if needed. The criteria I laid out in my previous post was meant to be a measurement of who the best active QBs in the NFL are, whether you want to call them “the elite,” as I basically did, or not. “Elite” has been a troublesome word for me as I struggled to write that post, and now this one.

Here’s a bit taken from an earlier draft of my previous post:

The term “elite” is kind of vague. I believe that elite QBs are a smaller group than the “top 10,” perhaps numbering anywhere between 4-8 in a given season. Of course, by saying “in a given season,” I am suggesting that elite status can be temporary. A QB can be really good for 3 years and then wind up playing for another 10 that aren’t so notable. OR, another more likely prospect is that a QB might start slowly and build to elite status. However you try to slice it, the term is kind of hazy. Even if the term isn’t hazy, everyone’s opinion on who fits the term’s definition is different as well.

I left that part out for one reason or another, but now I’m more inclined to embrace it and its suggestion of the potentially fleeting nature of being an elite QB. Rather than being just the top 4-8 QBs in any given year, perhaps the elite are those whom you would want to lead your team, based on recent performance. Obviously, there can be perennial elites, like the 4 gentlemen I mentioned in my last post (Brady, Brees, Peyton Manning, Rodgers). However, maybe it would be more appropriate to call these perennial elites future Hall of Famers (with the possible exception of Rodgers, who just needs to keep it up for a few more years). That would then suggest that the elite status should be extended beyond just the top four. Continue reading

Quarterbackstravaganza!

I’ve been trying to write a post about Joe Flacco and whether he qualifies as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL (let alone, one of the “elite”) for over a week now, with no success. I’ve done all kinds of research, tallying, calculating and clicking around on pro-football-reference.com and wikipedia to find out not just about Flacco, but also about how he compares to most every other long-term starting QB in the NFL since the year 2000. It’s to the point where my thoughts are so disorganized and the information I’ve compiled is so unwieldy that I just need to throw it all (well, not all of it) out there.

Here’s what it boils down to: since at least the start of the 2011 season (or earlier) there has been some discussion about whether Joe Flacco is an “elite” quarterback. Now he’s playing in the Super Bowl and it sounds like he’ll be demanding “Drew Brees money” when he gets a new contract in the off-season. Throughout all of this, and even up to this point, I’ve personally been skeptical of this praise of Flacco and the desire to rank him among the best QBs in today’s NFL. However, maybe there is something to all of these stories and arguments. Maybe Flacco is actually better than I give him credit for. In an effort to see if Flacco is indeed one of today’s best, I’ve compiled a list of criteria for what I think makes an NFL quarterback one of the best. Please be aware that this is a personal, non-professional/expert analysis. It’s just one fan doing amateur statistical and career comparisons in order to convince himself that he’s right, or find out that he’s wrong. Continue reading

The Bird Bowl

I know it’s premature to write about the Super Bowl when the Conference Championships have yet to be played, but I couldn’t resist posting about this topic, particularly since sharing it with you almost justifies the time I wasted looking all of this stuff up. I don’t promise 100% accuracy, but I should be pretty close on my numbers and dates. Against scholarly standards, I relied almost entirely on Wikipedia for research.

With the NFL Conference Championship games set (49ers/Falcons, Ravens/Patriots), my friend Ben sent me a text message reminding me that possible matchups for the Super Bowl now include the Harbaugh Bowl (or Har-Bowl as I like to call it, featuring 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh vs. his brother John, coach of the Ravens) and the Bird Bowl (it’s obvious, nothing clever there). Sorry Patriots, but here’s hoping it’s not your year. That got me thinking: How unbearable is the media coverage going to get if the Har-Bowl happens? More importantly, it got me thinking: there are a few NFL teams with bird mascots, have we ever had a Bird Bowl before?

The bulk of my research is concerned only with the Super Bowl era, after all, it wasn’t a Bird Bowl if it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. The actual name “Super Bowl” was apparently mentioned by Lamar Hunt during AFL-NFL merger meetings in 1966. It was picked up by the media and became the official name of the title game for the third AFL-NFL Championship Game. The title was retroactively applied to the first two AFL-NFL Championship Games.

I started my quest for Bird Bowl info by considering the number of bird teams in the NFL during the Super Bowl era. Continue reading