With the last “Patriots Monday” upon us, there was understandably a ton of Patriots talk on air. Eddie Andelman began his show with funeral procession music, and immediately started doling out the “blame pie”. Dale and Neumy were more analytical, looking at what the team needs for the future. Dale wants a stud running back. I e-mailed to the show the following: “Of the top 10 rushers in the NFL this year, guess how many will be in the playoffs. Guess. One. Ricky Williams, Tomlinson, Holmes, Henry, Portis, McAllister, Dillon, Jamal Lewis, and Fred Taylor are all out. Tiki Barber. That’s it. One guy.” (Thanks, Aaron) Dale did read it on air and acknowledged the point. There was an unusually high number of nitwit callers allowed on air today. (Brady stinks, etc) So many, in fact that I think Bob Neumeier’s brain turned to mush towards the end of the program. A caller was trying to make the point about tie breakers. Dale eventually got what the caller meant, after another caller clarified it somewhat. Essentially what the original caller was trying to say was the unfairness of the current system when it comes to wildcard teams that has you breaking two tied teams in a division before you move onto the conference. Then once you get past the division teams, you go to the conference record. The example was that the Patriots and Dolphins were tied record wise,, and the tie between them was broken by the division record before the wildcard standings were tallied. The point that the caller was making was that the Browns, who don’t have to break a tie in their division essentially get a free ride to the second round of the tiebreakers, mostly because their division isn’t as strong as the AFC East. Even though Miami might have a better conference record than Cleveland (they don’t) which would give them the edge in that first tiebreaker, they get knocked out prior to that because of a worse divisional record than the Patriots. So theoretically, even though both Miami and New England could potentially hold a tie breaker advantage over Cleveland, only one would get a chance to because one would be knocked out going through the tiebreakers within the division. Neumy couldn’t grasp the point and kept saying the division record meant nothing. Bill Belichick on the Big Show with Greg Dickerson, Fred Smerlas and Steve Nelson talked about getting younger on defense and also that they’re not necessarily stuck in the “cheap free agent” mold of doing business, seeming to indicate that they’ll spend money on the right free agents. Smerlas wants a “killer back” added to the team. Nelson thinks they need a lot of upgrades, especially on the aging defense. A pass rushing end would be ideal.
Another quick quiz. Which team in the NFL played the most games against teams that finished .500 or better? Both the Patriots and Raiders played 13 out of 16 games against teams .500 or better. That’s a tough schedule. The Raiders were a sharp 9-4, while the Patriots were 6-7. Only one other team in the entire NFL (The Jets at 7-5) had more than 6 wins against opponents with a .500 or better record.
Ron Hobson looks at the rousing finish without a storybook ending. David Pevear looks at the glimpse of Patriot magic we saw yesterday. Eric McHugh says life is not fair, and looks at what went wrong. Rob Bradford looks at the sweet and sour day. Tom King notes that a miracle went for nothing.
Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback has a few Patriots notes, some more on Parcells and doesn’t have the Patriots in his top 12, though Miami remains in there, and the 6-10 Vikings are in the mix as well. Ron “Genius” Borges has it all figured out for MSNBC.
If you need to feel better, be sure to check out the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel newspapers. They are killing Wannstedt and the Dolphins. Terms like “Choke”, “Losers”, “Underachievers”, and “Soft” are everywhere. The Palm Beach Post says of the Dolphins: “The choke’s on them.”