By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
December 08, 2008

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For the sake of discussion, let's call it the Airport Walkthrough Pride Factor (AWPF).

In short, it's the willingness of a fan to wear team merchandise while traveling through an out-of-town airport terminal. For starters, any normal law-abiding citizen should be required by Federal law to report any individual wearing Detroit Lions merchandise to the TSA agents as an unstable character. Then there is the "We are the Champions" crowd who wear one of those snazzy, over-priced hats for six months after said championship. Finally, there is the group of folks who are just plain loyal to their team and have no hang-up letting the traveling public know about this allegiance. Steelers fans come to mind.

Given the 2008 Patriots ability to squeeze as much juice out of their lemon, you would have to say that Patriot Pride is at beaming 10 on a 0-10 scale when it comes to the AWPF meter. A year after running up the score at every opportunity and Spygate, it would have been far more difficult to pull this Patriots walkthrough off without taking your life into your hands. Admit it, the 2007 season was a deal with the devil.

Whenever this season ends, there's a good chance you will look back and marvel at the adversity this team overcame. The Franchise was lost minutes after the Opening Day flyover. Then the starting running back was gone for the season. Then defensive players started dropping like flies to the point where in the second half of last Sunday's 24-21 win over Seattle, there were four opening day defensive starters trying to keep a difficult season from ending. Amazingly, they did just that.

Now the focus is on making the Arizona Cardinals home game on December 21st mean something.

You may shudder for letting me do so, but let's look ahead. I think most other regular followers of this team would approach the Arizona game the same way. Mix in a young, warm weather team coming to Foxboro in late December and you have the recipe for a much anticipated game. The place will be electric. Perhaps even more so than a Wild Card game.

A win this coming Sunday against Oakland will make the Patriots an impressive 9-5 heading into the final two weeks of the season. Despite tough odds at this point to make the AFC playoffs, the goal will be to force the issue for at least one more week and keep the Patriots name on those "In The Hunt" graphics that appear in your local paper this time of the year.

Let's face it. You know it. I know it. The American people know it. This Patriots team is at best a team that could win one playoff game under the right circumstances.

By no means is that that a knock on them. In fact, it's high praise for the kind of season that would have sent virtually any other team into a 4-12 tailspin. Bill Belichick and his coaching staff have worked their pants off this season in arguably their best job of his Patriots tenure. Matt Cassel has blown all of us away with his play this season. And they've won the games they should and lost a few that were within a break or two of going their way.

The win against Seattle is proof positive that these coulda/woulda/shouldas tend to even out over the course of the season when you pair it up with either the Jets or Colts loss. And at 10-6 or at 11-5, the Patriots will end up acquitting themselves handsomely in this trying season.

There's something wonderful about your team being "In The Hunt" at this time of the year. For me, it's a little pick me up. It boosts the AWPF upward a few points if you are traveling for work or to visit loved ones this season. It makes games like the Arizona one something so intriguing that perhaps it is your last thought before you drift off to sleep at night.

Play on Patriots until your 2008 tank runs empty. You've renewed your fan base's AWPF.