WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Super Bowl

Before we go any further, thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Odin Lloyd, whose name has been mentioned roughly 1/1000th as much as the person who allegedly orchestrated his murder. That seems wrong to me, particularly since he is the one who is no longer living. For his family’s sake, I hope the perpetrators are brought to justice and given an appropriately harsh sentence.

Now that we’ve got the real-life story out of the way, it’s time to finish up the Greatest of All Time season with the Greatest of All Time Super Bowl. Now the NFC representative, the ’99 Rams, isn’t that big of a surprise. If we all had our own individual picks, we would probably choose someone different like the ’85 Bears, ’92 Cowboys, one of Lombardi’s Packers teams or one of the Montana 49ers teams, but I don’t think anyone denies that the ’99 Rams were a pretty darn good team. If you successfully picked the AFC representative before the season, however, congratulations: you were the only one. The ’99 Jaguars went only 9-7 in the Greatest of All Time regular season but just finished up a run where they beat the ’75 Steelers, ’79 Chargers and ’07 Patriots — all on the road, too. Which is pretty crazy, if you think about it. I mean, the ’99 Jaguars DID go 14-2 but they did it against a really soft schedule and got blown out at home in the AFC Championship Game by a Titans team that wasn’t comprised of a bunch of world-beaters, either. Were they one of the 200 best teams ever? Probably. But it would be a pretty big stretch to include them in the top 100. And yet here we are – the ’99 Jaguars a game away from being called the greatest team of all time by an objective simulation engine. Hey, nobody said life wouldn’t be full of surprises! Here are some other things that WhatIfSports taught us along the way this season:

Teams that did a lot of things well and didn’t have any glaring holes fared very well. I sure as Helsinki didn’t think the ’00 Titans and ’79 Chargers would combine for a 28-4 regular season record, but those teams were among the most well-rounded squads in the tournament. Conversely…

If you were a championship team that did only one thing well, you were going to get POUNDED. Hence the massive struggles for the ’06 Colts, ’76 Raiders, ’64 Browns and ’60 Eagles. Of course, I’d also like to think that part of the ’06 Colts’ offensive struggles stemmed from the fact that the simulation engine chose to run Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai as much it chose pass with PEYTON FREAKING MANNING. No big deal or anything.

Hail Marys can and will occur roughly ten times a season. Why, just last week the Jaguars beat the Patriots on a touchdown pass from Mark Brunell to Reggie Barlow on the final play of the game. I’d be a fan of this happening more often in real life. And finally…

Jake Delhomme throws a ton of terrible interceptions at inopportune times. Clearly we could have only found this out via the WhatIf Sports sim engine.

And now, without any further ado: the Greatest of All Time season Super Bowl (played at a neutral site at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, for those who care about such trivialities.)

(NFC) 1999 St. Louis Rams (16-3) 31, (AFC) 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (12-8) 17

The Rams won fictional bragging rights as the greatest team of all time behind 141 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries from Marshall Faulk and two turnovers from their defense. Faulk won MVP honors for his performance, scoring from 12 yards away in the second quarter and 13 yards away in the fourth. His first touchdown gave the Rams a 13-3 lead with about five minutes remaining in the first half, but Jacksonville responded with a one-yard touchdown pass from Mark Brunell to Jimmy Smith; Jeff Wilkins’ third field goal of the half subsequently gave the Rams a 16-10 lead going into halftime. Faulk’s second score then gave the Rams a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter; on the Rams’ next possession, Faulk scampered 71 yards to set up Kurt Warner’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce, which put the Rams up 21 with a little over six minutes to play and essentially salted the game away. James Stewart scored on a five-yard touchdown run with under five minutes to play for Jacksonville, but the Jaguars couldn’t make any further push from there.

So that’s it. The fictional season is done and soon the real 2013 regular season will be getting underway. We’ll be covering that in-depth in the coming weeks and months.

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