Dreading Super Bowl LI
by Isaiah Webster III
It’s happening. We’re just a few short weeks away from the Super Bowl match-up that most NFL fans are dreading: Dallas v. New England. If the Cowboys and Patriots meet in Super Bowl LI on February 5, it would be their first meeting in the championship game. However, they have 9 Super Bowl titles between them, and two of the most loyal (and obnoxious) fan bases in all of the NFL.
Entering the final week of the regular season, both teams are projected to be the #1 seed in their respective conferences — that means first-round playoff byes and home-field advantage. Dallas is already a lock for the top seed in the NFC, while New England needs a win, a tie or an Oakland loss to lock up the top seed in the AFC.
Looking forward to the playoffs, Dallas will have the toughest road to the Super Bowl. The New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers look like serious threats. In fact, the Giants swept their season series with the Cowboys. It’s a very open question as to whether Dallas’s young team could beat both the Giants and the Packers in the same postseason — even if they have the home-field advantage. As for the New England Patriots, they are truly without peer in the AFC. The Raiders looked like a threat right up until starting quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg in Week 16. Now the Patriots will be favored to beat any of the remaining AFC playoff teams. And in many cases, their opponents might struggle to keep the games from becoming routs.
Though the NFL has struggled with TV ratings at points throughout this season, recent games have drawn record audiences. In fact, last week’s Monday Night Football telecast saw its highest rating in two years. If Dallas and New England were to meet in a Super Bowl, it could draw an audience of epic proportions. Very few NFL teams have the world-wide following and championship success that the Cowboys and Patriots enjoy. In terms of Super Bowl glory, only the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers would even be in the conversation. (The Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers and Niners have won 20 of the 50 previous Super Bowls. The other 30 are divided among the NFL’s remaining 28 teams.)
As far as the NFL is concerned, a Dallas-New England match-up would be a gold mine.
As far as football fans who root for a team other than Dallas or New England, it would be Hell. Generally when your team is not competing in the Super Bowl, you simply root for a team based on other aspects of the game. Such as Peyton Manning’s last ride or Luke Kuechly’s improbable, yet magical season. For the most part, the game’s participants don’t make you want to claw your own eyes out with hot forks.
And yet, it looks increasingly likely that the football gods won’t spare us from a Dallas-New England Super Bowl. The list of aggravation is long: Stars on helmets; Jerry Jones; Tom Brady; Bob Kraft’s smug face; Michael Irvin on TV; Zeke Elliott’s belly; Cowboys fans; Pats fans; clueless wannabe fans jumping on the winner’s bandwagon. These teams aren’t just annoying because they have a history of dominance, they are additionally annoying in that almost everything about them pisses off other teams’ fans. The Patriots have been caught cheating multiple times; the Cowboys project an arrogance so grand that words can’t fully capture it. AT&T Stadium has been called “Jerry Jones’s palace” — and they say this with a straight face!
This year, we won’t even have Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski as a funny, sexy aside to it all. He’s on Injured Reserve, and won’t play again until next season. It’s just all a shallow shit-show that we can see coming, yet are powerless to prevent.
If the Universe wants to atone for a horrible 2016, beginning 2017 with a Chiefs-Falcons Super Bowl would be a great start. Why the hell not?