The NFL’s conference championship (semifinal) games always capture my imagination.
In many cases, it’s where the two best teams in the league face off, even if they still move on to face a weak opponent from the other conference in a largely ceremonial Super Bowl. Most of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboy match ups from the early 1990s fall into this category. So these conference games represent the de facto league championship game.
In other cases, there are some teams that just can’t catch a break, like the Cleveland Browns or New York Jets, despite numerous, and often successive, championship game appearances. Without at least a Super Bowl appearance, these teams fall by the wayside of NFL history.
The forgotten championship
In all cases, the loser quickly disappears from the public’s memory – unlike the Super Bowl participants who have at least a moment’s glory on the national stage – despite an excellent season up to that point.
Do you remember how dominant the Browns were in the late 1980s? Or the Los Angeles Rams in the late 1970s?
A second chance at three hours
I often contemplate what NFL history could have looked like, had the NFC and AFC championship games gone the other way and the losers instead advanced to the Super Bowl.
See the full results below, starting with the 1970 season, with the winner shown in bold. I assume the conference that won the real Super Bowl also wins the alternate match up, though admittedly this is unlikely in several match ups. My observations follow the results.
|Super Bowl||AFC team||NFC team|
|V||Oakland Raiders||San Francisco 49ers|
|VI||Baltimore Colts||San Francisco 49ers|
|VII||Pittsburgh Steelers||Dallas Cowboys|
|VII||Oakland Raiders||Dallas Cowboys|
|IX||Oakland Raiders||Los Angeles Rams|
|X||Oakland Raiders||Los Angeles Rams|
|XI||Pittsburgh Steelers||Los Angeles Rams|
|XII||Oakland Raiders||Minnesota Vikings|
|XIII||Houston Oilers||Los Angeles Rams|
|XIV||Houston Oilers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|XV||San Diego Chargers||Dallas Cowboys|
|XVI||San Diego Chargers||Dallas Cowboys|
|XVII||New York Jets||Dallas Cowboys|
|XVIII||Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers|
|XIX||Pittsburgh Steelers||Chicago Bears|
|XX||Miami Dolphins||Los Angeles Rams|
|XXI||Cleveland Browns||Washington Redskins|
|XXII||Cleveland Browns||Minnesota Vikings|
|XXIII||Buffalo Bills||Chicago Bears|
|XXIV||Cleveland Browns||Los Angeles Rams|
|XXV||Los Angeles Raiders||San Francisco 49ers|
|XXVI||Denver Broncos||Detroit Lions|
|XXVII||Miami Dolphins||San Francisco 49ers|
|XXVIII||Kansas City Chiefs||San Francisco 49ers|
|XXIX||Pittsburgh Steelers||Dallas Cowboys|
|XXX||Indianapolis Colts||Green Bay Packers|
|XXXI||Jacksonville Jaguars||Carolina Panthers|
|XXXII||Pittsburgh Steelers||San Francisco 49ers|
|XXXIII||New York Jets||Minnesota Vikings|
|XXXIV||Jacksonville Jaguars||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|XXXV||Oakland Raiders||Minnesota Vikings|
|XXXVI||Pittsburgh Steelers||Philadelphia Eagles|
|XXXVII||Tennessee Titans||Philadelphia Eagles|
|XXXVIII||Indianapolis Colts||Philadelphia Eagles|
|XXXIX||Pittsburgh Steelers||Atlanta Falcons|
|XL||Denver Broncos||Carolina Panthers|
|XLI||New England Patriots||New Orleans Saints|
|XLII||San Diego Chargers||Green Bay Packers|
|XLIII||Baltimore Ravens||Philadelphia Eagles|
|XLIV||New York Jets||Minnesota Vikings|
|XLV||New York Jets||Chicago Bears|
|XLVI||Baltimore Ravens||San Francisco 49ers|
- The New York Giants never reach the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots appear only once (and win).
- The Vikings, Lions, Eagles, Chargers, Oilers, Panthers and Seahawks each win at least one Super Bowl.
- San Francisco still wins 5 Super Bowls, but also loses 3 times. Oakland wins 5 (including 3 in a row, which has never happened in Super Bowl history) and loses two.
- The Browns make it to 3 Super Bowls but lose all of them. The Jets make 4 but win only one.
- There is an expansion team meeting the year after both new teams joined the league, when the Carolina Panthers defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys still meet two times.
- The Bears go 3-0, representing the best overall Super Bowl record.
- The Buffalo Bills still don’t win a game.
- There are lots of interesting local rivalries. Los Angeles and Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Philadelphia and Baltimore, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
It would also be interesting to consider alternate MVPs, though I’d limit this to quarterbacks, since defensive or special teams players reflect a strong individual performance rather than the overall team strength. Kenny Stabler and Joe Montana would probably lead the MVP tally.
Next Tuesday, June 26th, I’ll be speaking at the New York PHP user group about the project I led to bring the Zend Application Fabric onto IBM’s on-premise private cloud rack, PureSystems, and onto IBM’s public cloud, SmartCloud Enterprise.
I’ll describe the Zend Application Fabric for highly available PHP clusters, and show how its topology is supported by scaling and failover policies built into the IBM platform. I’ll also show how it integrates with the DB2 based Database-as-a-Service.
At the core of the Zend/IBM system is an IBM virtual application pattern (based on the TOSCA standard) that specifies how virtual machines are layed out, which other VMs they should link (or react) to based on life cycle events, and when they should scale up or down.
You will learn how to activate the Zend pattern, customize the topology, set a scaling policy, monitor the infrastructure, tweak the Zend configuration, view IBM elasticity and fault tolerance in action, and perform repeatable deployments using a template.
Inspired by the NFL playoffs in January, I wrote an invention disclosure on how to merge player statistics with current field conditions to yield a visual probability of how a play might turn out.
The end result I envisioned was that you could watch the game on television as a spectator (or in real time as a competing coach) to see what the outcome the system predicted at the start of a field goal or 3rd down pass, for example.
As a sports fan the technology adds value to what broadcasters currently provide with digital first down markers and 3D play analysis.
As a coach, you could confidently plan what your next play would be. If the likelihood of scoring a touchdown was high, you could more quickly decide whether to kick the extra point or go for a two-point conversion ahead of time.
Beyond American football, the technology could be applied to many other situations, such as ice hockey, as well as non athletic events.
Example Embodiment #1: Field Goal
In the NFL, a place kicker lines up to attempt a field goal. Using statistical data about the player (his history of successful field goals from this distance in this stadium) as well as sensor or other real time data about conditions on the field, the system overlays a heat map onto the image on the television screen, showing solid orange where the kick is likely to go (and fading opacity farther away from the center based on the probability). This provides a good indication where the kick will end up, and whether it will be successful. (Figure 1)
Example Embodiment #2: Pass Play
In the NFL, a quarterback has his team lined up in a pass formation. Using statistical data about the player (his history of passes from this field position in this stadium) as well as sensor or other real time data about conditions on the field, the system overlays a heat map onto the image on the television screen, showing orange where the ball is likely to go (and fading opacity farther away from the center based on the probability) and yellow highlights the probable receiver. This provides a good indication where the pass will end up, or to which player he will pass. (Figure 2)
Example Embodiment #3: Hockey shootout
In the National Hockey League (NHL), a hockey game has goes into overtime and comes to a shootout to determine the winner. Using statistical data about the player (his history of one on one shots against this goalie in this venue) as well as sensor or other real time data about conditions on the ice, the system overlays a heat map onto the image on the television screen, showing orange where the puck is likely to go (and fading opacity farther away from the center based on the probability). This provides a good indication where the player will shoot.
IBM decided not to pursue a patent, but published the idea to protect the intellectual property. The full article is available behind a paywall at IP.com.
Would be interesting if this serves as prior art for any later invention that gets implemented.
Soon, you’ll also be able to deploy your production-ready applications to the IBM SmartCloud.
RSVP now for Tuesday night’s meeting at IBM in midtown Manhattan.
Or, if you can’t make it in person, watch online with Cal Evans.
IBM developerWorks has just published the final part in our series on migrating a PHP application from MySQL to DB2.
Learn why to move a PHP application to DB2, how to plan the migration, how to execute it, how to support it, and how to handle potential risks based on the experience of an IBM intranet application case study. This four-part series shares lessons from a successful MySQL-to-DB2 migration for a mission-critical PHP intranet application used by 4,000 global users within IBM to support content production for ibm.com.
- Part 1: Prepare for your migration
- Part 2: Migrate your data
- Part 3: Convert your PHP code
- Part 4: Deploy your application
In addition to sharing our own experience, the series highlights the number of resources available to you to carry out your own migration.
This month we have a double feature at New York PHP.
Well, it took just under two years and quite a bit of marketshare loss, but I found some time to release my long promised native BlackBerry application for Metro-North commuter train schedules.
You can download NYC North Trains for free, over-the-air. I’ve tested it on OS 5 and 6 devices such as the Curve, Style, Storm 2, Bold, Tour and Torch.
Like the simple Web interface I’ve provided for nearly five years, the native app offers an interface to the MTA schedule data optimized for mobile devices.
However, it also offers some features that make the experience quite a bit more convenient for BlackBerry users.
- Simple schedule selection using BlackBerry dropdowns and date picker
- The ability to save your preferred origin and destination (and toggle them depending on which way you’re going)
- Ability to email the schedule results from the device
- Ability to save a particular departure to your calendar to block your travel time
Of course, this application comes with the standard disclaimer.
Not affiliated with the MTA or the States of New York and Connecticut. This tool uses live information directly from mta.info, so schedules are always based on the latest available information. This tool retains no copies of schedule information from the MTA.