Friday, October 31, 2008

Pats/Colts more important than ever

There has been a surfeit of stories this week about how Sunday’s Pats/Colts game has lost its luster. Maybe it has, but that only means this week’s game is more important than it has been in years. In the past, both teams could afford to lose to one another, knowing that they’d likely face each other again in the playoffs. This year, the teams are scrapping just to get to the playoffs, and have lost more games than they did last year, including postseason games. This game will be less shiny, but more important.

Look, each game in the NFL is a snapshot in time. Just because a team beats another in the regular season doesn’t mean they’ll beat them in the playoffs. Ask the 2002 Rams, or last year’s Patriots, how that turned out. The Pats/Colts epic games were fun, but they were just a prelude to a possible playoff game. That’s great and all, but when the teams are struggling to survive, there’s more on the line, and when there’s more on the line, it makes for more compelling football. Last year’s game was big because the Colts represented the biggest potential obstacle to the Pats’ undefeated season… but that was a vanity thing. If they had lost that game and only that game (and it looked like they were going to lose that game), they still would have had the number one overall seed in the playoffs.

This year, the Pats are tied for first in the AFC East. For someone who grew up in the Bill Parcells and Pete Carroll eras, this is a familiar spot. Every play is important. Every play represents the difference between having a chance to win it all and staying home in January. So let the national media complain that they’re subjected to a lackluster game. This is football at its best.

38 comments:

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