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Monday, December 19, 2005

4 Games to Glory, not 3 this year...

Remember folks, it's '4 Games to Glory' this year, not three.

I think its nice that all the fair-weather fans have suddenly found renewed confidence in The Pats, but what is with all the Pats / Colts rematch talk going on? Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves here? The Pats have to win the 1st round of the Playoffs before we can start talking about a potential Pats / Colts re-match.

Let's get back to the 'Belichick Way' and take it one game at a time.

The AFC Playoff scenarios are still unsettled. There is still a slim opportunity for The Pats to move up into the 3rd seed, depending on what happens with The Bengals, though I don't know if moving up from the 4th to the 3rd seed will really make that much of a difference or even be that helpful. It will depend on how the Wildcard spots settle out.

On a side note: I think it's great that The Bengals won their division. I feel genuinely happy for the Cincy fans who have not seen a playoff game in 15 years. Great job Marvin Lewis.

Right now, the rest of the season for the Playoff contenders looks like this:

Broncos, 11-3: Oakland, SD
Cincy, 11-3: Buffalo, KC
Jax, 10-4: Houston, Tenn
Pitt, 9-5: Cleveland, Detroit
SD, 9-5: KC, Denver

The Broncos and Cincy both have two tough games left on their schedule and are also vying for the remaining bye week spot in the playoffs. On top of that, they both have to go up against teams that are fighting for their playoff lives right now in SD and KC, although KC is pretty much done I think.

Realistically, the Pats have been eliminated from a chance at the bye and to move into the 3rd spot would be difficult. The Pats would have to win out, which is very possible, but Cincy would then have to lose out, which is very unlikely, with an easy opponent like Buffalo on their schedule next week.

At this point I think it's safe to say that it's either going to be Cincy or Denver getting the bye and the 3rd seed and The Pats getting the 4th seed. Not that it is a guarantee, anything can happen...

In the Wildcard race, Jacksonville has an incredibly easy schedule. I expect they will win out and wind up being the #1 Wildcard Seed. I will be shocked if Jax loses either of it's last two games.

Pittsburgh has a pretty easy schedule too, facing Cleveland and Detroit, though I think Cleveland and our old friend RAC could give them a tough game. The pressure will be on The Steelers because if they lose either game, that opens up the door for San Diego.

Poor San Diego. Playing in the league's toughest division, they now need to win the rest of their games just to have a chance at a playoff spot. That will be very tough with their last two games against KC and Denver. The curse of the NFL Schedule Maker. I guess there's something to be said in facing the most difficult teams early on, like The Pats did, though back in Sept I would not have considered ending the season against The Jets or Miami easy games either...

No matter how things shake out, when the playoffs start, The Pats will be up against some formidable opponents in the 1st round, but the Pats are showing the rest of the league that they are not a team to be taken lightly themselves. In a home game, with our team in Playoff form, I feel confident that the Pats can win against any of the current Wild Card hopefuls.

In a choice between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, I think I'd rather face Jacksonville.

Pittsburgh seems to be a weakened team, but something about them makes me not want to face them. There's too much familiarity there and like Manning and The Colts, given enough chances, the Steelers are bound to get lucky and beat us eventually. There's too much voodoo in that match-up for me.

I think we have our best chance to win going up against Jacksonville. They are a good team and have the better record, but like the Colts, they also benefit from playing against two weak divisional teams twice a year. Jacksonville will be tough, but they are also a warm weather team with an iffy QB situation. I like our chances against them with Belichick on the sidelines of what will hopefully be a very cold, loud Razor.

Bottom line, whichever team winds up coming into the Razor, here's something for you to think about...

Fear this...

(Patriots.com photo)


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