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Ready for some NFL sports karma?

January 7, 2011

Prior to the 2010 MLB playoffs I wrote about the strange power of sports karma, that weird set of intangibles that seems to propel some teams to win games they have no right to win. You may notice if you checked out that blog post, my top two karma teams ended up vying for the World Series.

As we head into the first weekend of the NFL playoffs, lets take a look at the 12 teams and see what they have going in their favor, other than skill and coaching.

In reverse order of positive sports karma:

12) Seattle Seahawks

This one is fairly easy, you don’t get into the playoffs with a losing record and expect the football gods to bless you with a quick run to the Super Bowl. As a matter of fact, it’s more likely your football program is going to be cursed for a few years (baffling head coach, broken down starting QB, awful backup QB). The Seahawks may get a win in the first round of the playoffs, thanks to the 12th Man – their insane home field advantage. However that’s all they’ll get.

11) New Jersey Jets

You’re going to have a karma pox upon your team when one of your coaches premeditatedly sets up players on the sideline so that he can trip a player on the field during a punt return. It’s also bad mojo if your team name keeps getting brought up in a pair of sex scandals (Brett Favre’s texting/Rex Ryan’s wife’s foot fetish videos). Distractions and questionable personnel decisions have a way of catching up to teams.

10) Kansas City Chiefs

These guys should be the feel good team of the playoffs, but the impending divorce between the head coach Todd Haley and the offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is going to put a pall on this team. They may win in week one, but they won’t make it through Week two.

9) Philadelphia Eagles

I don’t think it’s going to be the ghosts of dogs past that will knock the Eagles out of commission, but I do think the Vick rebirth story has finally run out of gas. Two terrible games to finish out the year, along with injuries to their starting safety and middle linebacker, as well as sporting possibly the worst offensive line in the league mean that Eagles just have nothing going in their favor.  I don’t think they have enough positive juju on their team to fuel a run to the Super Bowl.

8 ) Indianapolis Colts

They’ve become a very bland team, quintessential vanilla. They have Manning and some young receivers, but there’s no energy coming from the team or fans. Manning can only do so much and he can’t put the team on his back this time. Expect to see the return of the Manning Face.

7) Green Bay Packers

Favre is too long gone to use as karma crutch to pump in a little anti-Brett juice. This is Aaron Rogers team, and while they have a good defense, they’re limping into the playoffs thanks to an historic collapse by the New York Giants and a win over a cruise-control Chicago Bears team on the last week of the regular season.

6) Pittsburgh Steelers

This teams strikes me as the Eagles, but with more heart. I suspect they may be running out of gas too. Also, like Vick, there’s still a lot of anti-Roethlisberger resentment after his suspension for allegedly assaulting a co-ed in a Georgia bar during the off-season. They’re a beaten up team, with critical injures and a porous offensive line, I don’t see them playing in the Super Bowl.

5) Baltimore Ravens

A stellar defensive, a strong running game and a smart head coach has kept this team motoring throughout the season, but in the playoffs they need swagger in every aspect of the game, and that just doesn’t exist. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis still put the fear of God into opposing QBs, but that won’t be enough this year.

4) New Orleans Saints

This is the team that owned last year’s karma quotient. They carried the will of the entire New Orleans population with them in every game, especially in the second half of last year’s Super Bowl. The team is good. They could catch lightning in a bottle. But they won’t, you don’t do that in back to back years.

3) Atlanta Falcons

While they’re the number one seed in the NFC, they just don’t come across as battle tested. Yes, they rattled off a lot of solid wins, they have a good team, a strong fan base and home field advantage throughout the NFC slate of games, but they have no mojo. They’re a solid team that could be upset by a more highly energized team.

2) Chicago Bears

These guys are a highly energized team. They have blow hard QB, a blow hard and pompous offensive coordinator, and a great defensive minded head coach. And they deserve all the praise they get. The Bears can win in any weather and they can out mouth any team they play against. In a game that could degenerate into a fist fight, these guys will land the most blows. They’ll probably also be the 2nd most hated team in the playoffs, following these guys:

1) New England Patriots

I’m not sure if you can call it karma, but head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady seem to be willing a team of suspect defensive and offensive talent into a juggernaut of football energy. Looking at their lineup, there’s really no reason they should be the best team in the league, and yet, they are. They are the personification of intangible elements. It’s not so much that they’re playing to win the Super Bowl, it seems more like it has been ordained. Of course, that was the thought going into Super Bowl XLII too, and then this happened:

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