2013 NFL Playoffs: Why the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens Will Play in the Super Bowl
Super Bowl match-ups sometimes have little to do with who records, players or stats, sometimes it’s a crazy reasoning or theories.
With that being said, here is a crazy theory that will land the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. It has nothing to do with Vegas, points, or players. It has nothing to do with wins, who lost to who or even. In fact, it has little to do with sports at all. The Falcons and Ravens will play in the Super Bowl because it the year of the Bird in the NFL. No, that is not the symbol for the Chinese New Year which starts February 10, for those wondering.
Since 1999, a team who features a bird as their mascot has played in the big game every four years. The 2001 Ravens and 2006 Seattle Seahawks deviated a little from this trend but nonetheless, it has been four years since a bird has flown into the Super Bowl. Given that this has been a year of bucking trends and recording breaking in the NFL, it’s only fitting that the NFL have its first Super Bowl that features two teams with birds as mascots.
If you take a look back at this season, other than the usual suspects like the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints, birds were the center of discussion throughout the season. The Arizona Cardinals got off to an undefeated start, went through quarterbacks and now are in the middle of a coaching search.
Then there was the Philadelphia Eagles, who many considered to be major players not only in their division but in the playoffs as well. They ended up struggling mightily, dealt with QB issues thanks to Michael Vick’s concussion and like Arizona, are looking for a new coach. When it was all said and done, the most interesting thing about Philadelphia was Nick Foles’ hair, which reminded us of Sunshine in Remember the Titans.
Seattle was equally as interesting. They were instrumental in getting the replacement refs, well, replaced thanks to “the catch”. Seattle also had one of the best rookie QBs, well actually one of the best QBs in the NFL in Russell Wilson. The rookie QB ran over the river and through the woods on opposing defenses all season and was only six seconds away from an NFC title game. Everyone talked about Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but Wilson was the last rookie standing when it was all said and done.
That leaves us with the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons as the last birds in the NFL’s birdcage, both of which found ways to be topics of discussion as well, mostly by consistently playing good football but they have some interesting story lines as well.
Of course, no Ravens season is complete without questioning Joe Flacco’s ability to lead the team and win the big games, even though he is a Super Bowl champion. Baltimore also dealt with questions about their defense which to some analysts showed some vulnerability because of their age. Then who could forget the emotional game wide receiver Torrey Smith played after the loss of his brother. It was one of the greatest displays of the human spirit during the NFL season.
At the close of the season heralded linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season and suddenly the Ravens became a “team of destiny”. So far, the Ravens have been just that after going into the Mile High city and beating the Denver Broncos and now face a New England Patriots’ team whose number they have had for the last few years.
Finally, Atlanta spent all season winning games and being doubted every step of the way. The Falcons did themselves little favors either by playing in close games almost every Sunday. Every time Atlanta won a game the analysts would remark about how their regular season means nothing because of their playoff history. The Falcons also changed offensive coordinators, hiring Dirk Koetter, which spurned a new style of play from the offense.
As a result, Michael Turner spent the whole season with his effectiveness being questioned. Atlanta claimed the top seed in the NFC only to be doubted about their chances against the Seahawks. The Falcons won, in their usual dramatic fashion, as head coach Mike Smith won his first playoff game after three losses. Now the Falcons face even more doubt against the San Francisco 49ers, as Matt Ryan tried to prove he is an elite QB. Getting to the Super Bowl and winning would be sweet redemption for the Falcons to who lost to the Saints in the Super Dome this season.
The reasoning may be a little “bird-brained” but given the story lines between each team, this is a definite possibility and would be well worth the watch.