By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by Comdoctor.net
September 17, 2006

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It happens every year. We jump to conclusions after one or two weeks of NFL action and summarily dismiss teams or crown them Super Bowl-bound. This year is no different.

"The Patriots are doomed. They hardly beat two doormat teams in their first two games." After all, we want to continue living in the lifestyle that we have become accustomed to over the last five years. It's not merely enough to pocket a win and move on to the next week. Style points matter, people.

Not so fast. Like you, I'm mildly pleased with the Patriots 2-0 start. After all, they all look the same in the win column. But geez"¦game-clinching field goals that resemble Three Stooges fire drills and there's the weekly blind-siding of Tom Brady. Oh, and don't forget the hopeless deep balls that have no chance of going for a completion.

Then you see the Patriots team that you fell in love with all those years ago. The defense stops Buffalo on a 4th-and-1 to turn the game around. Tom Brady connects on three critical 3rd downs late in the Jets game to give the team the breathing room that it needed to win the game.

Will the real 2006 New England Patriots team please stand up?

If we are wise, we will withhold judgment for two more weeks. Then after the playoff rematch this coming Sunday night against the Broncos in Foxboro and a tough showdown on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, we will have a body of work from which to make assessments.

You would like to think that the scare in the Meadowlands should set this team straight as it heads into a statement game against the Broncos. For sure, Denver hasn't come out of the chute looking so hot. They lost to a team with a new coach, St. Louis, and then barely won at home on against Damon Huard and the Kansas City Chiefs in a 9-6 snoozefest. The Patriots have a debt to settle with the Broncos for last January's playoff debacle. A win on Sunday night will go a long way to assuaging Patriot Nation's fears that the salad days are over.

The following Sunday (October 1st), the team travels to Cincinnati to play a Bengals team that is very high on itself "" even though they didn't make it past the Wild Card round of the playoffs last year. And speaking of being high, this Bengals team causes so much trouble off the field that the Cincinnati Enquirer should run the team's transactions in its police log. But I digress. Even though it will still be an early season game, it will certainly be billed as a new guard vs. old guard statement game.

Even if the Patriots lay an egg over the next two weeks, the team should still be on the good side of a 10-6 record when January rolls around. If they can hold serve the first half of the season against the Broncos, Bengals, Dolphins and those Colts (Enough with those annoying Peyton Manning TV ads, OK?), they should be able to clean up the second half of the season versus the likes of the Packers, Lions, Texans and Titans. And using history as a guide, I have found that I generally use less Mylanta and Pepto Bismol in the second half of recent Patriots' seasons.

So far this season, I've been waffling so much on this Patriots team that I half expect to get a waffle iron for my birthday in November. Columnists are paid to give you opinions and make you think. Frankly, I respect you too much, Mr. and Mrs. Patsfan, not to talk down to you and say something outrageous just for the sake of getting a rise. When I actually form an opinion on this team, don't worry; you'll get it.

(Imagine that. I made it through a whole column without mentioning Deion Branch. Mission accomplished.)

Idle Zinger thoughts while wondering if there is a pro football player out there who Joe Thiesmann doesn't like:

There are few things I enjoy more in life than Gummi Bears and Swedish Fish. A Herm Edwards press conference meltdown might be one of them.

My NFL Shop catalog came in the mail the day that Deion Branch was traded to Seattle. It was a cruel joke to have his jersey featured alongside Tom Brady on the inside cover.

A friend of mine watched the Buffalo game at Murphy's in Alexandria, Virginia. I am told that it was a Boston sports bar. To my knowledge, there are also ones out in Santa Monica, California and on Delray Beach, Florida.

If you have ComCast, be sure to check out the NFL Network On Demand stuff. My dad - who likely was at the game - sat mesmerized through the 1974 "Game Of The Week" between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots from Schaefer Stadium.

You may or may not have heard about the Krafts' plans to develop the area around Gillette Stadium. It's going to include a hotel, restaurants, a Cineplex and a Bass Pro Shops. If you're interested in following the development, you would be wise to bookmark the local newspaper www.FoxboroReporter.com.

Given the jam that Gary Glitter got himself into, it was inevitable that "Rock "˜n Roll Part 2" was going to be shelved as the touchdown music. Give the Patriots credit for digging up U2's "Elevation" and the "1812 Overture" as worthy replacements.


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