It’s the playoffs, and suddenly the impossible isn’t

“That’s the magnitude of the playoffs. They’ve changed the English language. They’ve made impossible … possible.” Don Cheadle tells us this every year in the NFL playoff commercials that air around this time. Cheadle was surely referring to instances like Joe Namath’s prophetic prediction of his Jets’ Super Bowl III upset over the Colts or, as Cheadle says in the 30-second commercial — “second-string sixth round pick Tom Brady bringing euphoria [to Patriot fans].”

Somehow, though, when impossible turns possible in the form of the 10-6 New York Jets pulling off an improbable upset over the 12-4 San Diego Chargers, who looked to be this year’s Gonzaga of the NFL, it’s just not as glamorous — even with the Cheadle voiceover.

Impossible may have a different meaning in the playoffs, but it lacks any meaning if both teams play so poorly that impossible implies shooting a team that’s already hung itself.

It’s like when the MacManus brothers allow Rocco to kill the guys in the strip club in “The Boondock Saints” — no one deserves to get offed by the “Funny Man.” In the same guise, sloppy play or not, no team should have to get eliminated from the playoffs by this year’s Jets team.

Rather than impossible, this week’s wildcard playoff games were, well, wild. From Randy Moss’ afro to his inflammatory “moon dance” celebration in the end zone (which just about every media circuit has a comment on so I’ll withhold mine), the first week of playoffs was anything but predictable. The only thing more surprising (and disappointing) than the Vikings’ upset over the Packers was the less-than-stellar caliber of play from Brett Favre that swung open the door for Green Bay’s early playoff exit.

(Come on, you didn’t expect me to put Moss’ behavior in any category labeled “surprising,” did you? Moss is officially in Artest/T.O. territory — if he doesn’t do something outlandish, it’s cause for concern).

As for the game between the Rams and Seahawks, there wasn’t much surprise either way. With Seattle’s checkered past in the playoffs and the Rams’ 8-8 record, no one expected either team to win. So, unless the game ended with both teams having scored in the negatives, the final outcome was going to be a surprise.

However, the game would have been slightly more surprising if the 8-8 Rams won — which they did. It’s not the BCS system, but if I were part of the Bills’ organization I’d feel slighted. If the Rams beat the Falcons next week and advance to the NFC Championship game, for Buffalo citizens everywhere, the current NFL postseason system could become as debatable a topic as the BCS.

One game I’ll look forward to next week will be the contest between the Eagles and the Vikings. I’m a nostalgic fan of Brett Favre, so it actually is a little relieving to not have to watch two likeable guys, Donovan McNabb and Favre, square off when you know one is going to be absolutely heartbroken by the outcome of the game.

The hope of seeing the Eagles rob Moss of his cherished “W” will be quite a sight for me. We all saw what he subjected the poor fans in Green Bay to when he was winning, I can only imagine what he’ll do to Philly fans if the Vikings lose.

Perhaps even more amusing may be what Philly fans will do to him if he waves his butt in their faces as well. I can’t decide which scenario is more amusing.

Speaking of next week’s matchups, you may be wondering why I have not yet brought up the game that will be played in my neck of the woods on Sunday night. In truth, I’m terrified to touch it, even with a 10-foot pole, but I will say this: Peyton Manning is on his way to being considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.

Now that I’ve gotten that humbling statement out of the way, let me remind all of the Manning family disciples that the “Man”ning must go through Gillette Stadium and the Patriots, and most likely Pittsburgh before it can reach the Super Bowl. Before anyone gets too excited about the big game Peyton had against the Broncos, take a look at last year, when Peyton and company manhandled the Broncos in even more dramatic fashion than this year, defeating them 41-10. But before they could face New England, they had to go on the road to Kansas City, where they took their impressive .667 road game winning percentage and defeated the Chiefs, who’d been looking pretty good for a while early last season. Passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns, Manning looked, well, Manning-esque. The Colts rolled into Foxboro, Mass. after having scored a combined 79 points in their first two playoff games. I remember rushing from a track meet to TK’s to watch the second half of the game — scared out of my mind, I might add. Like everyone else, I had succumbed to believing Manning was the human equivalent of the Patriots organization — capable of accomplishing nearly anything. I was nervous about what would happen when Manning met the Patriots, but as the 24-14 score indicated, the Patriots turned the “Man”ning into a “man”ning.

It’s also important to remember that Antowain Smith helped pad the Patriots’ score by rushing for 100 yards — a task I think Corey Dillon should be able to handle with ease. As for the weather and the whole home-field advantage thing every New Englander has been hyping up all week, I don’t think they mean a thing. Any guy who can break Dan Marino’s single-season touchdown record can handle some bad weather as well as my Uncle Jimmy and the other exuberant fans that will grace Gillette Stadium with their presence Sunday night. But anywho, yes, other than all that in that last paragraph, I’m not touching the Pats-Colts game with a 10-foot pole.

In the meantime, you’ll find me hiding under my covers until Sunday night is over.

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