The Jets have reached the NFL’s final four. The Jets. A team that needed two late-December mail-in jobs to stay above the .500 mark will make the trip to Indianapolis this week with a Super Bowl berth on the window ledge. The run it well, led by a guts-in-the-huddle back we once traded for a good French onion soup recipe. They play great defense, led by the best defensive player in the league. The ball also seems to bounce the right way for them, often in a somewhat-miraculous fashion. Facts are facts, results are results, and the Jets are one two wins away from being the champions.
I say it whenever someone tells me the Bears are not a championship contender: every team that makes the postseason is a championship contender. Just get into the tournament.
Think about it. The two hottest teams in the league heading into January, Dallas and San Diego, out. The two teams routinely criticized for avoiding an undefeated season like the plague, hosting conference championship games. The other two? One lost to the Chicago Bears on December 28th and the other is the New York Jetropolitans.
None of it makes any sense. There’s no rhyme or reason to the NFL anymore. No formula for success. Flozell Adams gets hurt and the Cowboys can’t complete a pass. Season over. Nate Kaeding, unquestionably one of the best kickers in the sport, shanks chip-shot field goals and the Chargers look demoralized. Season over. This game is about the moment-to-moment confluence of violently unpredictable events with the occasional bit of execution thrown into the mix. When the stakes are down to one game, one quarter, one play, anything can happen. Anyone can win.
So for those of you who believe the Chicago Bears are light years from competing at the NFL’s highest levels, you’re wrong. 7-9 can become 9-7 in the blink of an eye and for the second straight year a 9-7 team is in a conference championship game. The 9-7 Cardinals were moments away from becoming champions a year ago. The 9-7 Jets are headed to Indy. Do we have the right personnel people and coaches in place? Probably not. Are other teams in the division better poised for the future? Certainly so. But it simply doesn’t matter. Not in this current NFL. All that matters is getting enough wins over four months to make the tournament. Make the tournament and you can win a championship. Anyone can.