If you haven't heard, the Colts and Patriots are playing on Sunday in what might be the most hyped regular season game ever. And there's a fair amount of backlash from people who are sick of hearing about these teams (Sox-Yanks of the NFL?) and their golden boy quarterbacks.
However, this game actually is worth the hype. At least, in my opinion, and really, whose opinion matters here? Yours?
I recall back in the 1990 season, both the Giants and Niners had started the season 10-0 and were supposed to play one another in Week 12 -- on Monday night, no less. Everybody was talking about it weeks in advance and, predictably, both teams lost focus and lost in Week 11. So it was a Monday night matchup of 10-1 teams, which was still awesome. The Niners won the game 7-3, in the most entertaining game that could ever be that low-scoring.
This matchup, however, will supercede it, I think. For one thing, both teams are methodically mowing down their opponents and are both simply amazing at staying focused. Peyton's focus and single-mindedness about winning and working hard to get better is legendary. Brady's ability to carry out an expertly-crafted (if sometimes illegally crafted with videos) game plan is also impressive. And both are in the absolute primes of their careers.
Some things to think about as we head towards NFL Armageddon in Indy this weekend:
- Think about the 21-3 lead that the Pats had on the Colts in the AFC title game last January. If Tom Brady had guys like Moss, Welker and Stallworth to throw to, is there any doubt the Pats hold onto that game? What becomes of Peyton's reputation if that happens and he comes up short again? And for all those who think Belichick's a genius for cutting loose guys they don't need (like Deion Branch), was that perhaps his most terrible coaching move, since it obviously cost them a potential title?
- These two guys are like Magic and Bird, only with what appears to be even more parity between them. Seriously, if you had to choose a quarterback to start your team right now, who would you choose? It's not an easy question to answer and no matter which way you start leaning, you can see reasons to go the other way (like heterosexuality for some of our readers).
- The Colts are a home underdog. I am willing to bet there's never been a Super Bowl champ who started the following season 7-0 and then was an underdog at home. And I believe the line is at 5.5, which means it's more than a field goal! Amazing. This is the team that beat the Pats the last time they played. Has to be motivation for Indy, right?
- People talk about how the Pats are simply crushing their opposition this season -- and it's true -- but it's not like the Colts aren't taking care of business convincingly. They've scored 41, 22, 30, 38, 33, 29 and 31 points in their seven wins, averaging a 17-point margin of victory.
- Of course, the Pats have been ludicrous, putting up 38, 38, 38, 34, 34, 48, 49, 52, with an average margin of victory of almost 27 points! They're actually scoring like a top-ranked college team toying with I-AA opponents (or Division II opponents, in the case of the Redskins). They're averaging 50 points a game over the past three weeks. It's like they've been warming up for this game.
- No matter what Belichick, Brady and the rest of them say, this is not just any other game. I'm sure they'll play it off that way, especially if they win, but there's no way this isn't the one Belichick wants more than any other regular season game. Sure, beating Manboobies Mangini is fun, but it's just recreational at this point. Beating the Colts -- the team that took him down -- is what Belichick wants to do. And you know he'd love to hang 52 on the Colts in the Dome.
So who is going to win this thing?
Boilerdowd lives outside Indy and is a homer for the Colts, despite his other allegiances to Boston-area sports teams. ;-)
Tim is outside Cleveland and I believe he dislikes both teams. I imagine he's rooting for a tie.
And me -- I'm in Jersey and truly rooting for a good game. Despite the hate a lot of people have for these two teams (and I am seeing them compared more and more to the Sox-Yankees of football), I really enjoy watching them both play. They're machine-like, methodical teams, and I wish I had teams to watch that were simply this good. It's the game everybody wants to see if they love football and it's just the right time -- halfway through the season, early November, baseball is over... it's just right.
In my weekly pool that I play in, I picked the Patriots, simply because one of my rules is not to pick against the Pats until they show me the have a weakness. Isn't that scary? Looking at a team halfway through the season and thinking they truly have no weakness?
Usually in my pool, which is run with confidence picks (you pick all the games and then assign a confidence number to each game), I simply check off the Pats and Colts and then give them each the highest number of confidence points I can. Well, this week was obviously different. Like everyone else, a Colts win wouldn't suprise me at all -- they are the undefeated, defending champs and they're at home, after all -- but I have to go with the Patriots. It's kind of dumb to pick the road team in such a clash, but I think the Patriots are viewing this game as their season and that's going to be the difference. When they meet again in January, though, things might be different.