The NFL is becoming more of a drama queen than the Bachelorette. And what better way for the 49ers to dive into the spirit of the times than by traveling to New York, the circus capital of the world, to play the Tabloid Jets.
A mere one week ago, 49er fans were presuming a playoff spot and were focused only on winning the Super Bowl. This week, fans have to be concerned that a loss Sunday to the Jets would put a serious question mark next to the team’s chances to even get into the playoffs as a wild card. Amazing what one dumb loss can do to our fragile psyches!
But the real cause of alarm might very well be that the NFC West has two other teams that have emerged as more formidable challengers to the Niners than previously expected. It’s not a stretch, given the favorable upcoming schedule, that we’ll see the Cardinals get out to a 6-1 or even 7-0 start to the season. And Seattle, obviously, has just been given a free win where they should have had a loss.
All of which makes this week’s Jets game rather important. My blase shit-don’t-stink fandom has once again regressed back into critical-anxiety mode.
It’s not much comfort, but at least we’re not Packers fans, who had to digest hearing that their team contemplated throwing the rest of their games in protest of the NFL’s lockout of the old refs. This was on the flight home from the debacle in Seattle and can be chalked up to post game hysteria, but it can’t be comforting to the Green Bay fans that their team’s first impulse was to throw in the towel rather than dig in even harder.
At least the 49ers picked up their loss Sunday the old fashioned way — they earned it. But they, and every team in the league, now know that losses may also occur the new fashioned way: Error on Ref. You came, you conquered, you got screwed. This is not good and, in a sport as violent and emotional as football, it could become dangerous. Dangerous enough that the league could be held liable for creating and fostering an atmosphere where violence was probable, one of those Reckless Endangerment type deals. If I were a replacement ref, I’d definitely be strapping on a Kevlar vest before donning my zebra costume this weekend.
The ref travesty in Seattle has overshadowed what would normally be some earth moving developments in the 2012 season. Four long standing powerhouse franchises — the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, and Saints — all look fairly ordinary and eminently beatable these days. The Saints haven’t even won a game yet. And this week they travel to Green Bay, where the loser will have serious trouble making a playoff run. And even the East Coast biasites can’t avoid noticing that the NFC West has become the toughest division in the NFC, and probably all of football. It’s not inconceivable that three teams from the division will qualify for the playoffs.
The season is still young, but it’s getting late soon for some teams. Let’s hope the 49ers don’t join this life support group this weekend. And let’s hope the scab refs don’t put us there, either.