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A Most-Win Rant? 

 

By TOM

12/03/10

I heard the strangest thing on TV the other day. The basketball guy was saying that this week, or rather next weeks, Patriots game wasn’t a must win. He was freaking out about it as well. Like the whole idea that the game was a Must-Win was a crime against humanity? A “Media Fabrication” he actually said, LOL. If it wasn’t so stupid it would have been funny. Now the corporate stooge whose show he was on was pretending that he thought it wasn’t a must win game. However, sports talk shows, like democracy, are founded in the disagreement and not the agreement, and you could see the stooge didn’t believe the words that were coming out of his own mouth. 

Now, I'm actually a fan of Basketball Bob and have been reading his basketball articles since the Eighties. Believe it or not, I'm actually a basketball guy. Although, he did once compare Lamar Odom favorably to Magic Johnson when he was in college? I still don't understand that one? However, if you don’t think Monday Night’s game is a Must-Win game then you should stop talking about football, and stick to basketball. Seriously! He said where you are seeded doesn’t matter. As long as you make it into the tournament it's a stroll down the Yellow Brick Road. He compared it to what the Celtics did last year, which is invalid even on a basketball level. The Celtics were a veteran laden team that still has the five starters from their Championship team starting in the Playoffs. My count may be wrong, but I think there are only 6 or 7 starters left from the Pats championship team, which is less than 30% of the starters from their last championship season. I believe that the only remaining starters are: Wilfork, Brady, Light, Mankins, Neal, Koppen, and Branch. My only question is, does Branch still count?

This isn’t the NBA, were if you lose a game you might drop a spot or two in the standings. A loss against a division rival is more meaningless than destructive in the NBA. However, the NFL still holds Divisions as paramount. The winners of their Divisions get everything and the Wildcard teams get squat. Each division winner is guaranteed a home Playoff game, while the Wildcard team is guaranteed a long road to the Super Bowl. The loser of this game drops, literally, out of contention for the all important Playoff Bye week.

The Pats are a tie breaker behind the Jets. If they lose on Monday they will be a loss and the tiebreaker behind the Jets. That’s two games down with four to go. Does anyone see the Jets going 2 and 2 in the final four games, or the Pats going 4 and zip in the final four? I don’t. The only way the loser of this game has a chance at the division title is if the winner of this game goes 2 and 2, and the losers goes 4 and 0. Does anyone realistically see the Jets or the Pats going 2 and 2 in the final four games of the season? I just can’t see that happening.

Okay, here are some hazy facts from the conceivable future. If the Pats lose on Monday they most likely drop from the 1st seed to the 5th. If they want to reach the Super Bowl, they could conceivably have to go on the road to San Diego , then Indy, and then New Jersey . Not a Must-Win? Now that mostly likely isn’t going to happen because both San Diego and Indy look like they are doomed to Wildcard Weekend, as the Pats would be if they lose Monday. Teams that play on the Wildcard Weekend can’t play against each other the next week, as the top four teams in the league play at home. Does anybody think, I mean beside Basketball Bob and Corporate Stooge, that the Pats would be favored to win on that road trip? I mean, going on that road trip makes them favorites to get to the Super Bowl, clearly.

However, what if they win on Monday and garner the tiebreaker. They would most likely be the 1st seed in the AFC. On Wildcard weekend, they would be sitting at home resting. On week two of the Playoffs, they would most likely be hosting San Diego or Indy. Now, there is a huge difference between traveling 3,ooo miles from Graceland or traveling to the dome in Indy, and have a fair weather team or a dome team come to Foxboro in January. Now I know all basketball teams are dome teams, but in football weather is an issue. I don’t think you could favor the Pats going into either city (of course I would think they would win;-). However, nobody could pick a fair weather team or a dome team to win in Foxboro in January. Then Championship Weekend is being held in Foxboro, as the Pats have a game, at least, and the tiebreakers on the Jets, Ravens, Steelers, San Diego , and Indy.

Meanwhile in the Jet cave, they have to travel on the road to Indy, then Pittsburgh or Baltimore , and then come home to Foxboro. Now I know that road trip is inconsequential, and in reality (or rather fantasy;-), a stroll down the Yellow Brick Road. The Jets would clearly be the favorite to get to the Super Bowl, and the whole idea that Monday’s Must-Win game is “a Media Fabrication.” However, I’ll take the Pats chances hosting the Playoffs in Foxboro in January. And kid yourself, that is what is at stake in Monday's game.   

This week’s game is literally the whole season on the line for both teams. If the Pats lose this game on Monday they not only lose the tie breakers, against the Jets, they render the wins against the Ravens, Steelers, Indy, and San Diego as meaningless. In the NFL, all tie breakers go to the Division Winners in the Playoffs. Do you remember the Jets run in the Playoffs last year? By the second half the Jets were done, worn out by life on the road, and just too tired to win. Do you remember the AFC Championship game in Indy a few years back? The Flu Game, where Polian turned up the heat in the Dome when he heard the Pats had the flu? By the second half of that game the Pats were done. Now maybe it was the Flu? But maybe it was the three Playoff road games in three weeks. Maybe it was the plane rides? Maybe they got the Flu on one of the plane rides? Who knows, but the Pats were clearly worn out. Any team that has to play two Playoff Road games, and then has to play the AFC Championship game on the road is going to be worn out. The team that wins on Monday is mostly going to be playing at home through out the Playoffs.

This team is not who we thought they were. They could go 14 and 2, and be the top seed in the Playoffs. It would now be an unset if this team went 12 and 4. If someone had guaranteed a 12 and 4 record before the season I would have thought they were nuts. Who in their right mind would have picked the Pats to go 14 and 2, or 13 and 3? I mean, besides Basketball Bob and Corporate Stooge. This week they are Super Bowl contenders. If they lose this Monday, they will no longer be legit Super Bowl contenders, period. The Pats must win on Monday to remain contenders. They can lose any of the other remaining games and still be contenders, but not Monday, period. To say otherwise would be a media fabrication.   

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me:

patsfanmock12@yahoo.com

 

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