Friday, December 14, 2007

Out on a limb

I'm setting myself up for heaps of ridicule, but I want to go on the record now that New England will not win the Super Bowl this year. This is something I have wanted to do all season but never got around to for one reason or another, and to be honest, some of my original reasons are losing steam. Nevertheless, I still think I am right on this and need to document it now if I want to brag about it in a couple of months.

First of all, if you give me the choice of one team or the field, I'll take the field every time. New England may have the best odds to win the Super Bowl, but they still have less of a chance than the rest of the league combined. If you were to press me on it, I'd say that Indianapolis and Dallas have the best chance to knock them off.

Next up is one of my apparently failed reasons: injuries. Earlier in the season, I really thought a major injury or two would wipe the team out. I just couldn't see them going all out the way they were and escaping the regular season healthy. Well, so far they have. That's OK, though, because I've got a few other reasons on which to hang my hat.

Another reason is karma. If there was ever a team that angered the football gods, it is New England. I'm not usually one to buy into this kind of stuff, but after Spygate and the way they have run up the score on everyone, the Patsies are going to get their due.

Which leads to my next reason: the Pats are not as dominant as their undefeated record implies. Let's not forget that Dallas has a single loss and Indy only two. Yes, both of these teams lost to the Pats, but a repeat win in the playoffs is by no means a lock for the Patriots. Forget for a moment what Brady has done this year, if ESPN and the mainstream media will let you. Everyone knows (but still manages to forget this time of year) that defense and a running game win championships. How does NE stack up? Defense is fourth (behind Indy at two, Dallas is eight), rushing is fourteenth (behind Indy at twelve and Dallas at nine). In fact, I think the Patriots and their pass-happy offense would have been better off if they had to go on the road to Indy in the AFC playoffs. New England's undefeated season is a sham anyway; remove Dallas and Indy, and the remaining Patriots opponents are 55-88.

My final reason is precedent, in the form of the 06-07 Mavericks, who went just about as close as you can get to undefeated in a 82 game NBA season. How did that work out for them again? The Mavs burned themselves out in the regular season, and Belichick is doing the same thing to the Pats in his chase for an undefeated season, or revenge for the slights his team received after Spygate, or whatever else is driving him. When the playoffs roll around and each opponent has a better record than sub-.400, the Pats will fold. I didn't think the Pats could go undefeated in the regular season, but I am now resigned to that. But I have come to embrace it; after all, it will be that much sweeter when they fall short of the championship.

Are the Pats good? Absolutely, but don't engrave the Lombardi yet.

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