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The Dance, Super Bowl XLIII

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I hope everyone has a good day planned because I certainly do.  When it's our New England Patriots in the mix, I'm always standing on edge, too twisted up to enjoy the day.  Anything can happen and sometimes does (like an 18-0 Patriots losing to the playoff wildcard Giants).

Today's different.  Today, I can watch the festivities as a football fan and soak up all the goings on without a bottle of Jack Daniels to calm my nerves.  Tony Massarotti incorrectly assumes that most of us are so deluded, so homeristic, and so stupid that we feel the Patriots were robbed of a playoff berth and have a right to be in The Dance.  He calls some of us Hopeless Optimists, fans wondering if NE would've done some good in the postseason:

Hopeless optimists continue to wonder if the Pats might have made hay in the postseason coming off a spirited late-season run, only fueling the notion that the Pats somehow got jobbed following an 11-5 regular season in the socialistic NFL.

He goes on with a multiple-choice quiz designed to fuel is idiotic self fulfilling prophecy:

If you are one of these people, you are:

a) a homer
b) hallucinating
c) demented
d) a card-carrying Belichicklet, or
e) all of the above

The problem with his arguement is this phrase: Hopeless optimists continue to wonder.  There is a BIG difference between a deluded homer, thinking the Patriots were robbed, and a fan pondering how their team would've done in the postseason.  I am the latter and I believe most of the folks who frequent this little rest stop we call Pats Pulpit fall into that category as well.  Tony also misunderstands this: anything can happen...ANYTHING.  Why not "What If..." a scenario where Cassel is leading a banged up Patriots onto the Greatest Show on Turf?  Why not?

Anything can happen, and often does.  For instance: the Cardinals making it into the Super Bowl.  I have no ill feelings about the 11-5 Patriots sitting in front of their HD TVs while the 8-8 Cards enjoy the spotlight.  Heck, I'm ROOTING for them which is probably blasphemy considering I should be cheering on my conference winners, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Anyway, we've hashed this out over and over until we're sick of it: the NFL playoff system heavily favors division winners.  Even if 3 out of 4 teams in a division were 4-12, the fourth team could win it with a 5-11 record.  Silly?  Maybe, but every team is playing by the same set of rules; you simply need to win your division to make it into the playoffs or play well enough to grab a wildcard spot.

Tony further displays his lack of a grasp on reality with this winner:

Excuse us here with our feet on the ground, but when did we in New England get so arrogant and downright greedy? When did we emphasize a blowout win over an Arizona team that had checked out while ignoring a 33-10 loss to the Steelers, at home, on national television? When did we begin to arbitrarily assign great value to wins over weak (or invisible) teams and no value to one-sided losses?

Whether we played a weak schedule or a tough schedule means little.  And all of that changes when the season starts.  Sure, prior to the first snap we had one of the Top 3 easiest schedules in the league, but that's based on 2007 performance.  What Tony, and many others who put a lot of faith in this stat, fails to realize is teams actually DO something in the off season to change their previous year's performance.  Miami anyone?  Hence, the schedule argument is a weak stat at best.

Do I think NE deserves to be in the Super Bowl?  No, but for a different reason than most think.  I don't think anyone DESERVES to be in the Super Bowl.  Football, unlike the "other 3", is a one shot deal during the playoffs.  There's no 3 out of 5 or 4 out of 7.  Win and you move on.  Lose and you go home.  Use whatever scale you want, but winning "that game" to move on is a combination of preparation and "any given Sunday".  Any given Sunday, a team can beat another team no matter what the previous record.  Maybe Warner will find Fitzgerald time after time.  Maybe Edgerrin James will blast through the Steel Curtain.

Maybe, just maybe, on any given Sunday, the improbable Arizona Cardinals peak at just the right time and take home a ring.  Wouldn't that be a hoot?