I love me some football playoffs.

The regular season is fun to watch, with all the divisional rivalry and week to week story lines, but let’s admit it: the playoffs are why we’re all here. It’s the measuring stick between a good season and a disappointing one. Just over a third of teams (twelve out of thirty two) are invited to continue their season after the initial sixteen game tryout period- most are politely thanked for their participation and packed away for the winter. This last dance is only for the fighters.

And fight they must. Twelve teams, eleven games. Each playoff game seals the fate of one team’s season permanently. Rookies who have never met defeat so intimately show their young emotions. Veterans start to eye retirement. Old records fall and new highlight reels are born. Periods are placed at the ends of sentences.

It is special because it is so final. It is special because it is sudden and short. In the playoffs we discover what a team is, and nowhere else. There are twelve and then there are eight and then there are four. And then there are two.