Tuck: NFL Momentum Doesn't Matter
I think it's great that the Denver Broncos have won 11 straight games. It has been an amazing run of 7 consecutive wins for the Redskins to win the NFC East. The Seahawks smothered opponents into 5 wins in a row to end the season. The Vikings had to win 4 straight games to make the playoffs. The Colts are riding high on ChuckStrong having won 9 of their last 11. And the Bengals won 7 of their last 8, with the lone loss coming on a last second field goal.
There are more "hot" teams entering the postseason this year than there have been in any in recent memory.
Too bad none of that really matters much now.
It's fun to talk about how well these teams are playing, and speculate how that may help them, but there are too many cases of slumping teams turning it on and hot teams getting knocked out early.
The NY Giants of last season finished 9-7 with a negative scoring differential and then looked like the best team on the planet for most of their run to a Super Bowl title.
The 2010 Packers rode Aaron Rodgers hot hand to a title the year before that, but actually lost 3 of their last 6 in the regular season.
In 2009, the Saints beat the Colts to win the Super Bowl. New Orleans dropped 3 straight to end the season, and the Colts lost their final two. Both had been unbeaten up until their losing streaks.
In 2008, Pittsburgh got smoked at Tennessee in a game that cost them home-field advantage, but were hot up until that point and the Ravens knocked out the in the second round. Meanwhile the Cardinals lost 4 of their final 6 that year to finish 9-7, but still advanced to their first Super Bowl.
And yes, there were some hot teams that failed. Last year the Saints had won 8 straight going into the playoffs before being knocked off at San Francisco. The Patriots rode their 8 game winning streak all the way to the Super Bowl.
One year previous the Pats also had an 8 game hot streak, only to be beaten at home by the Jets. The Colts had won 4 in a row, but were knocked out in the first round by the Jets. I know you are wondering and the answer is New York had lost 3 of 5 going into the playoffs.
In 2009 the Chargers had won 11 straight only to drop an opening home playoff game in the 2nd round to the Jets.
In 2008 the Colts were winners of 9 consecutive games but lost their first playoff game to an 8-8 San Diego team. Miami had won 5 straight to close out an AFC East title, only to also get bounced in the opening round to the Ravens.
The whole point of keeping history is that we learn from it. And I've learned that being hot just doesn't matter all that much. There are too many examples of cold teams getting hot and hot teams getting beat. Sure, we've seen slumping teams get bounced early, so yes, Houston may have a problem. And we've seen hot teams go to the Super Bowl like the Pats last year, so maybe Peyton Manning will have a homecoming of sorts in New Orleans for the Super Bowl.
The point is that saying a team is "hot" or "cold" is not profound, astute, or applicable to determining who will be representing the AFC and NFC in the Super Bowl. That is more likely to be determined by turnovers, injuries, weather, a great game by a great player, or an bad game by a great player.