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NFL playoffs: KC vs IND

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I am a huge football fan. I live for this time of year, when the NFL playoffs begin, and literally any of the teams have a shot at winning a Super Bowl. Statistics over the last few years show us that anything is possible once your team makes the playoffs. Four out of the last six seasons, a team with ten wins or less has been crowned Super Bowl Champion. Three times since 2005 a Wildcard team has won the Super Bowl (2005, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2007, New York Giants; 2010, Green Bay Packers). So again, all your team needs to do is make it to the dance and they’ve got just as good a shot as any at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

In addition to being a huge football fan, I am also a huge Kansas City Chiefs fan. This season has been a bit of an up-and-down ride for me, as the Chiefs started with the best record in the league and jumped out to a 9-0 start. Down the stretch though, they went only 2-5 to finish the season at 11-5 and earn a Wildcard Playoff berth. This was an incredibly successful season, after finishing last season tied for the worst record in the league at 2-14.

Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to Saturday’s playoff match-up between the Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts. The two teams had played just three weeks earlier, with the Colts topping the Chiefs in Kansas City by a score of 23-7. So Saturday’s stage was set and I was hoping for a bit of payback.

Over the course of the game there were a number of injuries to key players for the Chiefs, the earliest of which happened only six plays into the game, and claimed the Chiefs best offensive weapon in Jamaal Charles. He left the game with a concussion and did not return. This was quite a blow to the Chiefs offense. However, replacements stepped up and the offense continued to click. The Chiefs jumped out to a 31-10 halftime lead, and then scored another early touchdown in the opening minutes of the 3rd quarter to grab a 38-10 lead over the Colts. As a Chiefs fan I was feeling good about the score but slightly uncomfortable and fearing a lapse by the Chiefs defense. Sure enough, the Colts began to regain their composure under the leadership of young quarterback Andrew Luck, and outscored the Chiefs over the remaining two quarters by a score of 35-13. Once the final whistle blew, the Chiefs were left out in the cold, losing by a score of 44-45. A devastating one point loss, especially after being ahead by so much early on.

I’m not a football analyst so I won’t get in to all of the opinions, statistics, and nuances of what happened over the course of the game. Suffice to say, my team lost, the season is over, and I’m quite disappointed. The ups and downs of the game were magnified by what was at stake; a chance to continue in the playoffs and take another step toward the Super Bowl.

As a social media analyst, I was very eager to log on to Visible Intelligence and see what the social sphere had to say and see how it mirrored the actual game. What I found wasn’t necessarily surprising, and just helps demonstrate how the integration of social media into everyday lives continues to grow. Authorship volume jumps during a sporting event, as they connect with other fans all over the country to discuss what’s happening in real-time. In looking at the timeline for this Kansas City vs. Indianapolis game, we see that there were just as many ups and downs in social conversation as were in the plays on the field.

tweets

As the game got more intense near the end, people seemed to put down their devices and remain glued to the action. That caused a huge spike in immediate post-game discussion, as authors jumped back online to post about what they’d seen.

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In a lot of ways, this game was a microcosm of the entire 2013 season for the Kansas City Chiefs; great start, poor finish, but ultimately entertaining.

One of the first things I did post-game, was log in to Twitter on my phone to see what the Chiefs players were saying after the game. Being from a generation that knows a time before Twitter and Facebook, this is always a bit amazing to me; that we have instant access to our favorite athletes in the immediate aftermath of a game (outside of guarded responses at press conferences). But, I think that’s why these channels are so successful – because they provide an emotional connection with our favorite teams and players. Reading a tweet from a player after the game gives us a glimpse of how they’re feeling and helps us connect to them emotionally.

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These are just some NFL Playoff thoughts from a very disappointed Chiefs fan. I am, however, still looking forward to the remainder of the playoffs and what they hold in store. And, I live in Seattle, so I’ve got another pretty good team out here to root for.

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