Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Consistency and effort wins championships... Coasting won't do it.

I'm a bit irritated with my boys, the New England Patriots.

Yes, they had what, by the numbers, might be considered an impressive win this week, but I'm not buying it.

Frankly, everyone paying attention expecting the Pats to blow out the Bengals, no matter what the color commentators were trying to sell.

The Bengals were outplayed from minute 1 to minute 60, by a Patriots team that wasn't even giving 75%, and a quarterback who'd been in a car accident right before the game.

The Pats barely even show up out of the tunnel for the second half (after running up 24 unanswered points in the first half); allowing the Bengals to make up 18 points from a 31-3 deficit at the 32 minute mark, with 17 unanswered points, before finishing the Bengals off with a fourth TD at minute 53. The Bengals final TD was just to reduce the humiliation.

Frankly, they coasted, as they have shown an unfortunate tendency to do when they come up against a "weak" team over the past few years (which has bit them in the ass more than once).

The problem is, the Patriots think they can get away with that kind of thing. The sad part is, against the Jets, Buffalo, and Miami, they actually might be able to.

The Pats have one of the easiest schedules in the league the first half of the season; finishing it out with a bye, Baltimore, San Diego, and Minnesota, with game 8 at Cleveland.

I'm not calling these walkover games; but I'd expect at worst 5-3 out of the first 9 weeks, likely 6-2, and maybe 7-1 or even 8-0.... IF THEY STOP THIS COASTING.

The first half of the season, I expect a very tough game against Minnesota, and no idea how San Dog, or the Ravens, are going to perform. Both are teams with consistency issues, and SD had an awful pre-season (though frankly, the Pats weren't so hot either, I don't generally consider the pre-season very indicative of regular season performance).

Cleveland... OK I'll call it a walkover right now. As of today, there isn't a less impressive team in the AFC, except maybe KC.

The second half of the season gets a bit tougher; with what should be strong challenges from Pittsburgh in week 10, and Indy in week 11.

Week 12, another walkover against Detroit, the worst team in the NFL (used to be the Saints and Cardinals were worse, but that was while they still had Barry).

Week 13, at home against the Jets on Monday night, I'm not too worried.

Week 14 at Chicago... who knows. Chicago is another team with consistency issues. I'm not confident enough to call it right now, but frankly I'm not expecting a playoff performance from da Bears this season.

Week 15 at home against Green Bay should be a tough one. Again, they've had consistency problems since losing Favre (hell, even with Favre), but they're never an easy game.

Week 16 at Buffalo I'm expecting a win, just like in week 3.

The regular season final at home against Miami... Frankly, when has Miami ever been able to perform in New England, in winter?

So, I'm thinking worst case season, 10-6; best case, 14-2; likely, 12-4; and I expect to take the division, again (As we have done eight years out of the last nine. 2002... Just not a good year. 2008 was an example of coasting hurting us, though frankly, at 11-5 we had what would have been a playoff season most seasons).