Modernistic trends hold strong in this year’s edition of NFL playoffs

Tyler Yakimisky, Co-Editor-in-chief

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  In recent years, the NFL playoffs have had a few common trends that have stirred up controversy while still remaining some of the most watched football games of the year.

A few of these trends include missed calls by the refs, teams going from worst to first to make the playoffs and the New England Patriots making the Super Bowl– again.

These trends arguably started in 2014 and continued at least through this year’s Super Bowl LIII.

Let’s name a few.

Dez Bryant’s infamous ‘no catch’ sparked league-wide reform on the catch rule and various other rules.  The changes to the catch rule included that the receiver must “survive the ground” with control of the ball. The rule also stated that the ball may touch the ground as long as the receiver maintains possession of it.

Now let’s talk about the trend of teams going worst to first and making the playoffs. The Washington Redskins did it in 2015, the Dallas Cowboys did it in 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars did it in 2017, and finally, the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans did it in 2018.

In back-to-back seasons, the New Orleans Saints’ season ended in turmoil– last year with the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’ and this year with the missed pass interference/targeting call. This situation prevented the team from moving inside the 5-yard line, which ultimately would have sent the Saints to the Super Bowl.

Finally, the New England Patriots has now made the Super Bowl three of the last four years. That’s all the attention this team’s going to get in this article.

Despite all of these trends, though, the NFL playoffs are still the most watched professional sports postseason of any of the four major American professional sports.

Some credit this to the high-flying offense and influx of young, creative coaches. When there is a lack of offense, it leads to some uninteresting games.

“I really didn’t find the Chargers and Patriots game interesting because they gave up a lot of points and could never get any offense going down the field,” Senior Jared Dorfman said.

Thankfully, though, the Los Angeles Chargers versus the Patriots game in the AFC divisional round was the only occurrence of this, besides the Super Bowl.

Instead of the Super Bowl, some found the AFC and NFC conference championship games the most interesting games of the entire 2019 NFL playoffs.

“Both the NFC and AFC championship games were really cool and fun to watch because of them both going to overtime,” Freshman Shane O’Malley said.

In fact, O’Malley was in New Orleans for the New Orleans Saints versus Los Angeles Rams NFC championship game.

“This game I went to was definitely better than the one last year, only because this year was a playoff game, so it was extremely loud and chaotic, and last year was a regular season versus the Jets, and they were really bad,” O’Malley said.

As for the infamous no-call on the obvious pass-interference late in the fourth quarter of that game, O’Malley stayed to see that, too.

Another freshman friend of his was hoping the game would go his way for the sake of his fantasy football team.

“The Rams and the Saints game to me was really entertaining because I had a fantasy team that was winning, and the no-call at the end actually saved me, and I ended up winning the whole league on that no-call,” Freshman Thomas Stricklin said.

Unfortunately, for most, the game that featured the Rams versus the Patriots, otherwise known as Super Bowl LIII, was a bit of a disappointment.

“I thought both teams were being too conservative offensively,” O’Malley said. “They were just being too careful and trying not to make any mistakes.”

The pre-game hype, as one would call it, was there, and Stricklin touched on this by saying, “Leading up to the Super Bowl, I was really excited to hopefully see the Rams beat the Patriots, but obviously that didn’t happen.”

Since the Super Bowl ended up being so dull for many of the fans, the focus of these playoffs has now shifted to the poor officiating in the NFC championship game, which has caused outrage in New Orleans. One fan has gone so far as to create a petition asking the commissioner to order a re-do of the game from that point on, this time with the call being made. At one time, the petition had received 524,000 signatures.

What some fans did not know, though, was where those referees were from. When they found out, some fans felt there was potential bias in how the game was refereed.

“In the Rams and the Saints game, the referees were from Los Angeles, and that maybe could’ve been a factor in the no-call pass interference,” Dorfman said.

According to ESPN.com, the referee assignments were given out on the Monday before the NFC championship game, and neither the Saints nor the Rams had a problem with the geographical ties of the NFL.

But, for now, we football fans must sit back and wait until next year to see if any changes to the officiating rules will be made based on the trends of the past.

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