By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
January 21, 2008

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On the eve of Super Bowl XXXVI, I thought to myself that one Super Bowl title would mean everything. It would get the franchise off the hook and remove the title "Loserville U.S.A." from the New England sports scene.

Before Super Bowl XXXVIII, I reasoned that a second Super Bowl win would both legitimize the upset over the Rams two years before and prove that it wasn't a fluke.

As I was drinking coffee in Jacksonville Beach on the morning of Super Bowl XXXIX, I surmised that if the Patriots could beat the Eagles and claim three titles in four years it would start the clock on the dynasty debate and forever immortalize a franchise that was once wildly famous for snafus such as a head coach almost getting electrocuted at an introductory press conference.

As we prepare for Super Bowl XLII, the stakes have been raised to an unimaginable level. A fourth title in seven years would move this once sorry franchise into a neighborhood only occupied by the Cowboys, Steelers and 49ers. It would tie Bill Belichick with Chuck Noll for most Super Bowl victories by a head coach. And yeah, there's that perfect 19-0 business on the line as well.

So just where do we go to get our head around this one? Perhaps like the team we follow, we should forget about the big picture and just focus on this one game in front of us. Forget about putting a down payment on a "2008 Patriots-One For The Thumb" t-shirt for just a minute and come back to the here and now.

Over the coming days leading up to February 3rd, you will be assaulted with enough facts, theories, and predictions to make your head swivel. It would not surprise me in the least if the Dalai Lama got five good minutes on "Pardon The Interruption" and said "I believe the Giants pass rush will be the difference in this game." You'll stay up at night wondering about the backup long snapper situation. You'll wonder if Chris Hanson can be called on for a big punt with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line.

The hype will be enough to make a rational person want to move to Iceland. But even if you did that, someone would likely come up to you in a Reykjavik discotheque and ask the new American in town if Matt Cassell can carry the load if Mr. Brady's injured leg prevents him from playing.

Face it. You can't escape the pre-game hype. The best thing to do when faced with the hype is to hold onto certain facts and time-proven tendencies. Facts like since 2003, the Patriots are 10-0 when having two weeks to prepare for an opponent. Or that this team has proven that they can win games this season in a whole bunch of different ways depending on the circumstances. Or the ability of the Patriots to historically take care of opponents fairly handily the second time that they meet them in a season.

On one level we were mercifully spared the Green Bay Packers. If Brett Favre was playing in this Super Bowl, you might as well give a Darth Vader mask to every Patriot fan entering the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. How could we compete for the hearts of neutral fans with the wholesomeness of the Packers and Brett Favre on the other side of the ball? Instead we got another chapter in the Boston-New York rivalry to write.

I don't know about you but I have a love-hate relationship with this whole rivalry. On the one hand, I'm staying up until midnight on a school night in May to see if Mariano Rivera can shut the door. But there's another part of me that feels like this is so passé that it's time to move on to something new and fresh. But then who could forget the whole spygate thing started with the New York Jets? And don't forget the last decade has seen coaches burn out the pavement on I-95 moving between the two AFC East rivals. Or the second greatest moment in Bruins history (after Bobby Orr's Stanley Cup winning goal) came in Madison Square Garden when the Bruins took on an entire section of Rangers fans, culminating in Mike Milbury giving one patron the business with his own shoe.

If the Patriots take care of business themselves against the Giants, it will mean everything.

And this time I really do mean it.

Idle Zinger thoughts while getting goose bumps as I watch Mister Rogers Neighborhood with my toddlers:

That got me to thinking…if Giants' Head Coach Tom Coughlin has any free time the next two weeks, he can enter a Lady Elaine Fairchilde look-alike contest. He is sure to have a chance to win given his frostbitten, rosy red cheeks.

One last thought on the subject: I would characterize King Friday's grip on power in the Neighborhood of Make Believe as tenuous at best.

A little known true fact: I shared a desk for most of fourth grade with Tom Coughlin's son when his father was the quarterbacks coach at Boston College. I'm sorry if this might ruin your image of the Giants coach a wee bit but his son was a really good kid.

It may be an early Christmas present but the scuttlebutt is that the alternate silver jerseys are going bye-bye next season.

I bought a red Priest Holmes Kansas City Chiefs game jersey on clearance for $7 the other day. Why am I getting so much grief for this?

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the halftime entertainment for Super Bowl XLII. Apparently, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were busy.

Why does Ron Paul keep calling me? I'm ready to take out a restraining order.