The NFL playoffs kicked off this past weekend, with eight teams left to play in the divisional playoff round on Saturday and Sunday. Because three of the Wild Card teams advanced -- along with big underdogs Seattle Seahawks -- some perennial favorites have headed home earlier than they had hoped. It's not just the players and coaches who are left considering what could have been. Columnists from their hometown papers have published their last opinion pieces for the season, reflecting on what their teams' losses mean. Here, what they're saying in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Kansas City today:
Predictable Eagles: "No matter how many times a season ends without the Birds winning a title, no one here ever gets used to it," says John Gonzalez in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "The wait-'til-next-year optimists, if there are any in Philly, will be drowned out by the majority -- the angry and the sad, the frustrated and the fatigued." Such is the life of an Eagles fan, because it happens "every year, without fail." Short of a Super Bowl win, we need "a support group."
Saints disappoint: "The Saints' defense of their Super Bowl title died a quick death along the shores of Puget Sound on Saturday," says Jeff Duncan in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "And for the defending champions and their legion of loyal fans, it was a painful, humbling reminder of how fleeting glory can be." It was clear that the "Seahawks simply wanted it more." For the Saints and their fans, "it was a day to forget."
Second-guessing the Colts: Coach Jim Caldwell called an ill-advised timeout late in the game against the Jets, says the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz, that likely cost them the game and their season. Caldwell, "who has had a very good year in almost every other way," left everyone, including Peyton Manning, puzzled. "I still don't get it." Does anyone?
Chiefs' step forward: "Today, it's OK to be sad," says Sam Mellinger in the Kansas City Star. "It's the damndest thing. When the Chiefs are competitive, they are a screaming, strutting, tomahawk-chopping bundle of swagger at home, but that all stops in January." Then the postseason is a different story. But "this season still shines. In the big picture, there is far more good than bad."