How a morning on ESPN’s NFL Playoff Machine briefly rekindled my crushed spirits

Good things began happening to me the moment I rolled out of bed this morning. For one, I can never usually find a pair of matching socks. But today was different. As I entered my bathroom, lying on the floor was a pair of matching socks that my cat had been playing around with while I slept. Nice. Next, I went downstairs into my kitchen to turn on my Keurig to initiate the heating process, only it’d been left on from the night before. No waiting for coffee today. Perfect.

But the best part of my morning came when I arrived at work, a half hour early I might add, on account of my luck back home. Naturally, I began scrolling through my Twitter notifications. And it was at that moment I realized the Man Upstairs was looking down on me today.

There, sitting in front of me on my computer screen, was a link to the ESPN NFL Playoff Machine.

As I stared ahead, I became contemplative.

“Now, what? Should I start messing around with each week?” I thought to myself. “May as well, I still have some time to kill.”

So, I did just that. At first, I picked who I thought would win each game in Week 14. One of those picks included taking the Detroit Lions over the St. Louis Rams. Honestly, I didn’t put much thought into it but figured why not, St. Louis couldn’t beat a powderpuff team at this point.

As I did the same for Week 15 and Week 16, I realized I’d picked the Lions to win both of those games too (at New Orleans then home against San Francisco). Not a stretch considering everyone’s matching 4-8 records.

“I wonder who we (apparently I am part of the team now) play in Week 17?” I thought to myself. “Could we actually run the table and finish 8-8? We play at Chicago in Week 17? Chicago’s as bad as we are. That could totally complicate matters when it comes to getting a higher draft pick.”

After making all of my selections, including picking the Lions to win out and screw up their draft at the same time, here’s where things stood:

2015-12-09_13-42-31Among other things, I noticed (according to my picks) that Carolina will finish 16-0 and get the No. 1 seed in the NFC, with Arizona grabbing the No. 2 spot. It was also apparent that the Hail Mary play against the Lions would potentially propel the Green Bay Packers to the NFC North crown.

(Shaking my head)

But then I noticed something else. Something rather compelling.

“Is that the Seattle Seahawks sitting in the No. 6 seed with an 8-8 record?”

(Honolulu blue light bulb goes off in my head)

“Wait a second. What if… what if I picked Seattle to lose one of the games I had them winning?”

I quickly went back to Week 16 and moved my cursor onto the St. Louis/Seattle matchup. But as I was about to click, a voice of reason emerged.

“This is dumb. I probably picked half of the other games incorrectly to begin with. What’s the point?”, I reasoned. “Ah well. Screw it.”


Suddenly, the desperate and futile yearning for hope that has riddled Detroit football fans for decades began to creep back to the surface. Alas, following the hypothetical Seahawks loss, resting before me at 8-8:


That’s right, your eyes are not deceiving you. After picking every NFL game for the remainder of the season and then making one small adjustment, I’d somehow found a way for the Lions to make the playoffs.

“The ESPN Playoff Machine has to be wrong.” I said aloud. “There is no way on God’s green earth that this team’s making the playoffs. Or is there?”

Now that I’ve settled down (and stopped laughing) from this morning’s serving of Lions Kool-Aid, I realize there is only one way that the picture above could have happened.

The ESPN Playoff Machine is defective.


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