The best and worst thing about this time of year is how everything gets heightened. One of the worst sides of that curse is the discourse.

The playoffs, and post-Championship week in general, are usually an utter mess of discourse. The two teams that lose always generate a lot of anger and argument because emotions between fanbases are extremely high. Just last year we had the Bengals’ unnecessary roughness call on Mahomes that sealed the game, and even worse, the 49ers fanbase whining into the darkest depths of space about how the game wasn’t fair because Purdy got hurt so early. You might remember Vikings fans being frothing mad at Eagles fans who acted like jerks after the Eagles spanked them a week after the Minneapolis Miracle. You might remember pretty much any time Aaron Rodgers and the Packers lost. This is a very good time of year to have takes on the internet about sports.

This week has already given us a wealth of ammonia and bleach to mix together into a beautiful mustard gas of toxic online discourse. Let’s use this comic as a big fat excuse to just hit the whole menu at once like an online argument mukbang. I’ll start!

Obviously the right-wing conspiracy nuts who think this whole thing is a psyop are lunatics doing their typical conspiracy thing. The idea of this all being a manufactured thing is absurd. Now, is the league capitalizing on this? Sure is! Why would you even expect otherwise? The most popular music artist on the planet is dating a popular tight end on the most currently successful team in the league. The NFL would be stupid to not endorse it. There are now gameday threads in the Taylor Swift subreddit. New people are discovering football thanks to this and I think that’s beautiful. The whinging gatekeepers who are very mad about it (and it is usually a very particular type of guy most of the time, you know the type of guy) are being crybabies about people enjoying football for different reasons than them when it isn’t even that bad now. The broadcast coverage of the Swift thing has died down significantly after those first two weeks. She’ll get maybe a couple total minutes of screentime during games of 3 and a half hours and it’s just her cheering in the booth. It was definitely annoying to begin with, but now the bitching about Taylor Swift is more annoying than the stuff itself. Let the Swifties enjoy football because of a celebrity they like being there. It’s fine. Football is for everyone.

Purdy once again did nothing to truly silence his critics or prove them right once again. Purdy remains an enigma of a QB, a guy who clearly has the talent and skill to play well and frequently does, but also frequently seems to be propped up by his surroundings. He played like a bonehead sometimes in the two playoff games, but he also had some killer throws and drives when it mattered. We are no closer to truly knowing how good Brock Purdy is. Him winning or losing the Super Bowl will only make all of this worse. This is a no-win argument that will only be answered with time. The things we can say for sure about the guy: It is pretty damn cool to have Mr Irrelevant be the starting QB in the Super Bowl. He also looks 14 years old.

Sad to say Lamar really needed to at the minimum reach the Super Bowl this year to shake off the haters and it ended about as badly as possible for the guy. He’s got a few playoff wins under his belt and presumably a second MVP award incoming, but he’s pre-2006 Peyton Manning now. A guy who is very good until it counts and he can’t get past the better guy and therefore is a choker. It’s not fair. It was never fair. Winning a Super Bowl is fucking hard. Reaching a Super Bowl is fucking hard. Haters will hate. They will move the goalposts as much as is necessary. But winning that trophy will get them to go back and grumble in their holes instead of seizing every opportunity to jump on the guy. He played bad on Sunday. The Ravens offense as a whole was trash ass with poor gameplanning, no good adjustments, and horrible playcalling. It is going to haunt him forever if they can’t get over the hump soon.

I initially came down on the side of “Dan should have taken the points at least once” in my first reaction Sunday night. Some more time and info I hadn’t considered has swung me back closer to “Dan Campbell made the right choices”. I did not realize how questionable the Lions kicker had been this year from 45+, so there was a valid reason to not trust him to make that late kick, and the payoff to making the conversion would have been substantial. The Lions just could not execute. The decision was fine. The real mistake the Lions and Campbell made was calling that run play in the final drive that got stuffed. That forced them to use a timeout and ensure that they would need to onside kick the ball. The Lions lost because they abandoned the running game that worked in the first half, they stopped being able to execute when it mattered, and god abandoned them.

I thought the officiating this weekend was basically fine. The Lions didn’t get screwed over at all! Ravens fans, and anyone with significant investment in the Chiefs losing, seemed to disagree. Ravens fans in general have always had a very “WE ARE A SMALL MARKET TEAM THAT NEVER GETS THE CALLS” energy to them so I usually dismiss it. The taunting call on Zay Flowers? The problem there isn’t the call. It’s the rule. By the rule as it exists, Flowers did exactly what you can’t do. Good call by the standards of the rule. The personal foul from Kyle Van Noy headbutting Kelce when Kelce was being a bit of a shit? Don’t retaliate. Never retaliate. The refs will always, always, call the penalty on the retaliatory actor. The playoffs tend to get fewer penalties called in general as the refs always step back a bit and usually only call the more obvious penalties. Ticky tack stuff gets by. The Chiefs got away with some ticky-tack stuff. The Ravens got rightfully called for some blatant fouls.

The word and concept of momentum have become weirdly controversial, especially in analytic circles. It’s also a subject I have been thinking about for quite some time in the background, so I’m not going to go more into it here and save it for a later comic.

If you see any fan or player of the most successful franchise of the last 5 years talk about how everyone counted them out, you should be legally allowed to kick them in the taint.

I did not want this either. The most boring possible outcome out of what we had left.

Lamar is probably the MVP. I think it should go to Christian McCaffery, but to be honest this year is very weird for MVP candidacy. There aren’t obvious frontrunners. It shifted constantly during the season and I think mostly settled on Lamar because at the end of the regular season the Ravens were the main team that hadn’t had big that big notable loss on the resume. Purdy lost his argument when the Ravens spanked him. Dak lost his argument when the 49ers spanked him. Hurts lost his weak argument when the Eagles got revealed as frauds. Mahomes should unfortunately have a bigger argument but the Chiefs offense was so flawed all year thanks to the WRs. Maybe CJ Stroud actually deserves it. What about comeback player of the year? It’s obviously Damar Hamlin but it continues to raise the question of what Comeback means. Last year Geno won it…for coming back from being…mediocre and a backup? Is it coming back from injury or irrelevance? They need to define this award better.

What other toxic discussion sludge has caused you pain these past two days and you just have to get something off your chest? Let it rip below.