Yesterday, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints earned their way into the National Football League’s championship, the Super Bowl.
I couldn’t be happier that these two teams are the finalists because this is the Super Bowl as it should be. The best versus the best.
No upsets, no underdogs, no wild card teams and no representatives from a weak division or with a mediocre 8-8 record. For the first time in more than a decade, the top two seeds from each conference will be competing.
The Indianapolis Colts (14-2) will be representing the AFC after winning their first 14 games. Their final two games, well, were a bit controversial. After Indy clinched the top playoff seed in the conference they rested most of their starters so that the Colts would be in top form for the playoffs. Their fans were outraged, but it seems to have paid off. Peyton Manning and Company have looked dominant against the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets.
For their part, the New Orleans Saints (13-3) actually tried to protect their perfect season, but ended up dropping their final three games. Despite that, they still finished with the best record in the NFC and have turned it back on in the playoffs.
This is the first time the Saints have ever been to the Super Bowl, and it’s provided a lift to the city of New Orleans, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
This match-up - this is the way sports should be.
Unfortunately, as the media, television in particular, has exerted more control over professional leagues, the level of competition has been watered down. Longer schedules and more playoff games are added to increase advertising revenue, and the fans suffer with bizarre, unlikely match-ups in the postseason.
The NFL is particularly prone to these off-balance games. Its single elimination playoff format leaves too much to chance with fluke plays and coin tosses determining who moves on to the next round.
More often than not the best teams never end up playing each other, to the detriment of the fans.
Simply put, the Colts and the Saints are the cream of the crop and that’s the way the Super Bowl should be. Nothing but the best.