After week two, we once again realized how little everyone knows about the future. The experts told us for months which teams would be great and which shouldn’t bother playing the games. The Colts and Broncos would be unstoppable in the AFC. The Seahawks and Eagles would either shut teams down or blow them out. Week one ignored the experts' picks when the Seahawks fell to the Rams, the Colts to the Bills, the Falcons soared over the Eagles, and the Broncos struggled with the Ravens. Others, whose stock was on the rise, looked bankrupt, while the 49ers ran over the Vikings and the Dolphins struggled against a team everyone knew was a dumpster fire.
If week one was a punch in the gut, week two brought the experts to their knees. The Greatest Show on Turf 2.0, the Indianapolis Colts led by the Hall of Fame correlated Andrew Luck, barely mustered a score against the Jets. The hapless Jacksonville Jags, who the pundits mocked for not being able to even beat sterile Carolina Panthers, stunned Miami, a team who many believe contenders for the AFC East. The worst teams in the league managed to pull out some unlikely wins when Oakland defeated Baltimore, Johnny was Money Manziel against the Titans, and the worst team in the league, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bludgeoned the Saints to their sixth straight home loss.
It turns out that experts have been staring into the darkness, claiming to see things, but knowing not what they saw. Like shaman interpreting sounds and shadowy movements in the night, their divinations, seemed truly in touch with the spirits of the dark. Now, they appear ravings of a madman rather than knowledge of the unknown.
Week two offered brief glimpses of the shadowy figures, but they remained silhouettes in the dark still. Partial features exposed briefly, but the full figures never fully revealed.
Week three, however, will cast the first real rays of light into the darkness, disclosing which outlines were truly monsters in the night and which were fearful figments of the imagination. Their faces won’t be revealed entirely, but we will begin to get a better sense of each team’s real shape. .
Sunday, the 0-2 New Orleans Saints march to Bank of America battle weary, tired, and vulnerable. Fearful of the future, they’re preparing for a sort of last stand, a desperate shout into the abyss if you will. The ghastly noises in the darkness have been terrifying so far. They’ll tell you that they aren’t afraid, and the threats are exaggerated. They’re aware of the real dangers of their potential destruction, however. It’s this type of existential fear that also triggers the final fight or flight bursts of adrenaline, creating a certain ferociousness.
Contrastingly, the 2-0 Panthers are confident, but inexperienced warriors, who could underestimate the dangers of the dark entirely. Led by a brash defense, Carolina has shunned the shaman’s ill-omens. They’ve fought without fear and with brutal tenacity.
Teams will begin to take shape Sunday. We’ll begin to see if the sounds in the darkness were more than just the howling of the wind. Were the troubles of the Colts hexes or hoaxes? Were the movements in the night, like Seattle and Philadelphia’s stumbles, more than mere shadows? Are the fears justified or irrational?
Sunday’s match against the Saint’s will reveal a lot about both teams. On the precipice, a loss to a division rival and an 0-3 start for New Orleans signals near certain doom. It will also nourish the type of terror that accompanies an end of an era. A win for Carolina, on the other hand, will suggest that the young warrior is instinctual in battle and has innate sense of when to press hardest on the jugular. A 3-0 start will surely generate some token acknowledgment from the tribal shaman, but they’ll still claim patent to the unknown future. Carolina will emerge with something far more powerful though--the belief in a future without fear of darkness.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
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