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2012 NFL Playoffs: Defining, Managing, and Holding Playoff Expectations

Every long-term 49ers fan should be a spoiled brat this season. Every fan should be spoiled going into the postseason.

When this season started pretty much every man, woman, and child on this site was prognosticating a 9-7 season - and this was hopeful prognostication! "Boy," people I don't care to look up and site accurately would say, "oh boy, if we win nine games, then I think we win the division."

Well guess what. They were totes magotes right. 9-7 would have done it. That would have been the ticket to the proverbial dance.

Why were people saying this? Why, when we shot out to a commanding lead over our division rivals, did people on this site still whisper "playoffs" with a unmistakable reverence? Other teams, surely, after they had taken command of their division would have been shouting "playoffs" with a Fus Ro Dah! Gusto.

The fact is, we fans have been conditioned. To follow the 49ers since 2002 is to be a lab rat at the mercy of the football deities - those conniving beings, who seek to mold our poor souls to their megalomaniacal wills.

We have felt the sting of optimism and the horrors of hope. Right when it looked like the 49ers were going to break out and lengthen their already considerable legacy, they would fail us again and again.

All of this has changed, though. This year we witnessed the dawn of a new era. But, a still more glorious dawn awaits. We have January (and dare I say Feburary?) football to anticipate and cherish.

Let's bounce. You know, like, over the jump. Get it? Oh nevermind. You must think I'm hopped up on something (puns galore!).

This recent success, however, has led to the problem of expectations we harbor going into the playoffs. I kind of want this piece to be a bit of a comment starter. I have been thinking about my expectations going forward, but I have been fighting with myself at bit. I want to see where ya'll land.

Divisional Round

I would hate to be a one-and-done team. I find it more helpful to think of the bye this week as a secret victory, but I still want an on field victory.

Really what will bug me the most about losing in the Divisional Round is that all the pundits will be all Alex Smith this and Alex Smith that. I mean, we may very lose because of him. It's totally within the realm of possibility. I'm just super tired of hearing that Alex Smith can't play football because he is too busy sucking his thumb. Or, even worse, when pundits say "Alex Smith" as a reason for why the 49ers cannot be successful. As if that's still a viable reason.

Addendum: If we lose to the Saints I won't punch out my television. They are really good.

NFC Championship

This may be odd, but I think I would handle losing in the Championship round more than any other round, especially if we are playing the Packers or Saints. There is a certain prestige to losing in the Big C. It also portends well for following years.

Also, as far as I know, Brett Favre won't be playing against us in this year's Championship round. Always, always a bonus.

The Big Kahuna

This could be rough. In fact, I will say this upfront: if the 49ers make it to the Super Bowl and lose, I will be devastated. That sort of letdown would be just monumentally depressing. In a way too, I think the NFC is much stronger this year than the AFC. So, not only would it suck to lose in the Super Bowl, but it would be somewhat worse because I would feel like we had to get past better competition to even get there than we would face.

What do you all think? Am I crazy for devaluing the Championship round?