One out of four ain’t bad

I found out this weekend why I’m not a Las Vegas oddsmaker. Jimmy the Greek, I am not. All things considered, though, that’s not a bad thing.

I said Friday on — shameless plug warning! — "Sports Talk," which runs from 1-2 p.m. weekdays on 970-AM WDAY Radio, that the winners of this weekend’s NFL playoff games would be: Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers.

Well, I got one right, and that was the Cowboys. For the record, colleague Heath Hotzler picked NONE of the games right, while my other colleague Dan Haglund picked ALL of the games right. Nice work, Dan.

So, what happened?

The only one that really stuns me is the New York Jets beating the Bengals. But in hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t be stunned. It comes back to what I blogged a couple weeks ago about the Indianapolis Colts opting to bench their starters while holding a five-point lead – and an undefeated record - in the third quarter of a game against those same Jets. The Colts went on to lose the game, with MVP QB Peyton Manning watching from the sidelines.

I said at the time that the Colts always fail miserably in the playoffs in the years they go this route, and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again. Going a month without playing a meaningful game will hurt a team.

But for the Jets, they’ve played to win all season long because they had to. The Bengals didn’t have that sense of urgency, losing three of their last four before the playoffs started.

Same for the Baltimore Ravens, which needed a win and a lot of help in the final week of the regular season just to make the playoffs. They jumped out to a huge lead early against the Patriots before hanging on for a win and a trip to Indy to face those Colts.

The Packers game against the Arizona Cardinals was the high-scoring matchup everyone thought it would be. It was a fun game to watch, as the offenses carried both teams into overtime in a game decided when Arizona’s defensive decided to join in on the end zone fun.

And, of course, the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles again. Dallas will go to the Metrodome for Sunday’s playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. It’s the "Herschel Walker" bowl, with a spot in the NFC championship game on the line. Should be fun to watch, as the Cowboys are red-hot, and both teams can put a lot of points on the scoreboard. And the Vikings are really tough to beat at home.

The semantics of speculation

Potentially. Could. Suggests. Indicate.

These are the types of words used a lot when big sports stories start developing.

It’s interesting to watch the types of news that big media outlets will run with. Takes ESPN for example. The news outlets don’t get much bigger than ESPN.

With the news filtering in all weekend long that USC head coach Pete Carroll is going to return to the NFL as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, news outlets will go to great lengths to be the first to report on it.

I saw on ESPN’s "Bottom Line" scroll that appears at the bottom of the network’s screen that not only were sources indicating that Carroll would become the next coach of the Seahawks, but also that "potential replacements at USC could include" the likes of Jeff Fisher and a few other names which escape my memory.

Potential replacements could include? Who has decided these are the potential replacements when the job isn’t even open yet?

I suppose that’s the age we live in now. There’s more media now than could have been imagined just 10 years ago, especially when you include all of the bloggers and the way Twitter is utilized. ESPN is just trying to stay ahead of the game.

The game has changed, and the biggest of news outlets recognize that.

Maybe my memory fails me, but I doubt we would have seen ESPN report 10 years ago something like "potential replacements could include" on a job that really hasn’t been vacated yet.