Man do I love ESPN. 24/7/365 Sports coverage, mostly football, is pretty much all I watch if I turn the TV on. They'll show me the highlights of the games I missed and give me up to date news around the league and other sports that may spark my fancy. I especially love the Make a Wish features and the Specials on the things they do for our vets and active members of our military.
Did you notice something missing from my praise of ESPN? I'll give you a hint: It's the majority of their airtime.
The answer is their future football analysis/predictions, which to me is more comical then informative. Why you ask? Well, to start, they are wrong a lot of times. In fact, I think they are most wrong when they all agree with each other.
But how does that make sense? Wouldn't you think a group of paid experts agreeing on something pertaining to their expertise would be correct? Common sense would draw you to such a conclusion, but a deeper look explains why this is not so.
The answer is one of the greatest failures of mankind: groupthink.
I'm sure some of you familiar with George Orwell's 1984 know this term, but for those who don't there's a good quote I found.
"I use the term groupthink as a quick and easy way to refer to the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action." -Irving Janis
In layman's terms, when people all agree with each other on a certain outcome, they become so convinced of it they fail to recognize other possibilities.
A perfect example of this would be the Philadelphia-New Orleans game. Watching the pregame coverage, I was amazed that all the experts picked the Eagles. Why did they do so? Because "the Saints can't win on the road."
WOAH WOAH WOAH. How did we get there? Ah, I see ESPN, the Saints are undefeated at home but own a putrid 3-5 record on the road. Well, there's some logic in picking against them. But wait, why does that mean "the Saints can't win on the road."
(I could go on another self conversation rant but similar logic was applied to the Bengals winning because they were undefeated at home, but you get the point)
The answer is it doesn't. These analysts get paid to make predictions more then analyze, the sad side effect of round the clock sports coverage. These guys are some of the best in the business in watching the film of a game and telling you what each team's gameplan was, who played well, and what were the keys of the game.
So why do we ask these guys to make predictions on things that haven't happened when their title means they are supposed to "analyze" past events? Why do we force them to make these predictions, base their credibility on them, and get them to the point where they agree with each other so vehemently they deny any other possibilities, especially when the alternate is as likely if not more likely?
Back to the main thesis of this article (what was it again?). I'll start with the title. For those of you unfamiliar with Sun Tzu, the title is a quote from The Art of War, and I think it ties in with the above analysis and this upcoming game.
The rhetoric for this game is similar to that of the Saints game. The Chargers have held us to two of our lowest point totals this season. And in the most recent game against us, the Chargers dominated us. And don't forget "we have a lot of pressure on us."
Therefore, according to NFL analyst groupthink, we will score very little points and be dominated in this one.
Now that doesn't make much sense now does it? There's a hundred reasons as to why we should be better offensively in this matchup then the two previous. But I'm not going to get into it, because that's not the point of this fanpost. The point is to observe the absurdity that the Chargers will win because they will stop our offense.
Back to the title, let the media and the public build up this Chargers team. Let this Chargers team believe because they fared well defensively against us in two matchups that we won't open up the flood gates this time. Let them believe the pressure is on us in this game.
Sean Payton before the Eagles game said that the Saints struggling on the road was a real thing. He played the Eagles into believing his team could not win, and they did win.
Feign we are not the best offense, and when this Chargers D expects to stop us again, their arrogance will be their downfall.