But why am I still so worried?
It's because the Patriots are usually the best team and should win most of their games. But that didn't happen in Super Bowl 42. It didn't happen in Super Bowl 46. And it doesn't happen all the time because this is the NFL. If only, if only, "any given Sunday" was just an empty, meaningless cliche and not a truism that explains why some Sundays, even dominant teams don't always win.
I'd feel a lot better about this game if.....
.....Bernard Pollard was on the Ravens' inactive list. Having taken out Tom Brady's knee (2008 as a Chief), and Rob Gronkowski's ankle (last year as a Raven), and having been on the scence, about to tackle Wes Welker when his knee blew out (2009 as a Texan), Pollard scares me. He can't do much anymore EXCEPT injure Patriot stars. So, I worry about Aaron Hernandez and Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Which one of them is Pollard going to take out tomorrow? Seriously, I'd contribute handsomely to his retirement fund if he called it a career sometime before 6:30 Sunday night.
.....We were playing an immature, inexperienced, "gee, we're just happy to be here" team like the Texans again.
.....Rob Gronkowski was just rounding into top form, ready to punish teams that tried to defend him, instead of sitting at home on the IR.
.....The Ravens were just your generic solid team, and not a solid team on a mission for their soon-to-be-retired star linebacker and coming off a miraculous, destiny-inspired win at Denver.
All in all, the Patriots are the better team by a clear margin. They are at home. They should win. They might win big. I think they probably will hoist the championship trophy tomorrow night. And I think, when all is said and done, that we in Patriot Nation will be very, very happy around 10 p.m. Sunday night.
But the fact that none of us can be sure of that outcome is, I suppose, not only why we all watch the games but also why NFL playoff football is so exciting and nerve-wracking in the first place.