Thursday night I saw a lot of happy fans on Facebook. The Broncos lost of course. And the congratulatory tone was common among Patriots fans. The unison was affirming that the number 1 seed was now, or soon to be ours!!!! Sigh...
The Miami Dolphins will be a tough opponent Sunday. I know that a lot of fans feel good about our chances. And I do as well. But I know that Miami will be the toughest game played this season to this point. And it only gets harder from here. The truth be told, if you are a Patriots fan you expect to win the division first, the AFC next, and then, HOPEFULLY, the Super Bowl.
It runs in that order due to our knowledge that Bill is coaching the team. He is doing another masterful job. And the fact that our team has proven to be resilient time and time again helps. My concern is that this mentality can be defeating. I felt like NE had a good team last season. But Ray Lewis said he was retiring and then miracles started happening left and right. And before you know it, the Ravens are Super Bowl Champions. I was sick.
I cannot stand the Ravens. I make no bones about that. But in one respect my hope was foolish. Football is a flawed science. The same reasons you can win is the same you can lose. Unexpected things happen. For good or for bad. Gronk is a great example of that. Probably THE BEST TE in the game right now. And for the post season, the Patriots have mostly been without his services. And will be without him for this post season as well.
It wasn't something we as fans thought of when sitting there watching the game. But when it happens it can create a lifeless reality that makes one realized you are utterly and truly powerless to stop the machine. Which is why not only do I take no solace in the fact that Denver lost. I could care less if they lost the rest of their games at this point. I only care about my team. Who quite frankly has provided a little too much excitement lately. But I can accept that they ARE winning games.
I am not going down this path to demean our team. Or say they will not do well in the playoffs. I want NE to cash in their chips and grab that brass ring again too. But they need to take care of what is in front of them first. Which is a tough Dolphin team that has players on it that will put up a fight. And I'm sure the Dolphins remember losing a large lead in the second half of the last game. The ray of hope I am offering is that NE can win this game Sunday. If NE can punch the Dolphins in the mouth and continue to do so with the running game, they will win Sunday.
One can definitely argue that Gronk's presence would make life easier on the rest of the receivers. But the fact is the rookies have played well. I have said all season, if the rookies catch the ball, the team stands a much better chance of winning. Until the practice report came out Friday, I had concerns that Dobson may not play again this season. And he looks to be on his way back soon. But Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce have a lot to offer. There is also Stone Cold Austin Collie who has been huge. Aiding the late game heroics of Tom Brady.
Our 2013 Patriots have a lot to offer. I still believe that the best they can play is in front of them. Its just a matter of it coming together. At the right point and time it will.