2001 NFL SIMULATION: BATTLEGROUND STATE

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I return with my 36th simulation from the Super Bowl era, with WhatIfSports data to replay the schedule for each season once, and only once. Included will be a recap from the bottom so you can wonder how the hell the Minnesota Vikings won five Super Bowls and how the Detroit Lions won one.

The 2001 season marked the third and final campaign with 31 teams in the league, necessitating at least one team per week to take a bye. The events of September 11 pushed the league schedule back a week and resulted in playoff games deep into the month of January.

The league scheduled the Raiders and Patriots on a snowy Saturday night in Foxboro. Charles Woodson forced a late fumble but the ref enforced the Tuck Rule. Adam Vinatieri somehow made a long field goal without help from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, the Patriots won – and the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty launched.

In the sim however, the Pats reign of destruction will have to wait, both New England and Oakland finished 9-7. The Pats squeaked into the postseason while Jon Gruden got his termination letter from Al Davis.

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  • As in the actual season, the Steelers and Rams finished as the number one seeds in their respective conferences. The Rams appeared unstoppable and headed for their second Super Bowl in three seasons.
  • Also, as in the real season, the Indianapolis Colts imploded down the stretch with only one win in their final eight games. Playoffs!?!
  • The NFL  East proved hyper-competitive in simulation with he Dallas Cowboys in the mix and the Arizona Cardinals earning a rare playoff berth.
  • In the third season of its carnation, the Cleveland Browns went 7-9, but only one three games here, giving fans additional beer bottle throwing practice.

The Patriots won in Baltimore in the wild card round but then traveled to balmy Miami the following week, where they lost 36-26. Both the Packers and Rams fell in the divisional round, falling to the Eagles and Bucs respectively.

The Steelers hosted the Dolphins for the AFC Championship, and Kordell Stewart silenced his many critics as he led Pittsburgh to a 43-10 rout and its first Super Bowl appearance in 22 years. Meanwhile the Eagles defeated the Buccaneers for the second straight year to claim the NFC crown.

The Eagles and Steelers traveled to New Orleans for the all Keystone State Super Bowl. Kordell Stewart makes his Crescent City homecoming a memorable one as the Steelers win their fourth World Championship in as many attempts with a 24-6 victory. Super Bowl losers have now averaged 5.7 points in the past six games of the series. It also marked the first consecutive AFC victories since Super Bowl’s IX and X.

Now a brief recap of alternative universe NFL history.

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