By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
December 15, 2008

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The natural reaction of many season ticket holders leaving the stadium on that sunny September afternoon after the opening day game against Kansas City was one of despair. Financial despair.

"Just who in the world is going to take those Arizona tickets off our hands the week before Christmas?" I asked sarcastically.

Well, it turns out that the intriguing 2008 Patriots season has wound its way through enough twists and turns to the point that I can't wait for Sunday's game to arrive. You can't have my ticket no matter your asking price. It's not for sale. In fact, I had to grab an extra one for another friend to come along. Indeed, Sunday's must-win game against the Cardinals will be festive given both the holiday season and what is on the line. The only other thing we can hope for is some snow is to put us in the mood.

Sunday should be a re-affirmation of the bond between a team and its fans. Often knocked as a quiet stadium, there is no excuse why the home crowd won't be a large factor in the outcome of the game. I envision a stadium setting much like the one against the Colts in the 2004 AFC Championship game. The Patriots and their coaching staff have worked as much out of a situation this year as they possibly could have. I dare say most other teams would have folded into a nice 4-12 tent under such circumstances. Instead, the Patriots have shown once again that all they do is win and they just won't fade away into the NFL mediocrity sunset. It must annoy the bejeezus out of the rest of the League and their fans.

Of all the years for 11-5 not to be good enough to get a crummy sixth seed in the AFC playoffs, it would have to be this year. If there was ever a season that just making the playoffs would be a just reward it would be this season and this team. What are you going to do if your five losses are to the Dolphins, Chargers, Colts, Jets and Steelers? I suppose that's why they have tiebreakers. Look on the bright side, by the formula used by the NFL for scheduling purposes the Patriots could be playing a third place schedule in 2009.

Many League observers had this team buried after Tom Brady went down on opening day. I thought the team could go 10-6 or so. Like you, I have been pleasantly surprised by their entertaining ways of demonstrating new ways to win ball games with an ever-changing list of characters. Only the most delusional Patriots fan would have envisioned Matt Cassel performing so admirably. Not to mention the way he carried himself in the face of losing his father over the last week. Now we look ahead and will consider planning a purchase a Matt Cassel 49ers jersey next fall. More to the point, what we didn't plan on was the theme from M*A*S*H becoming the team song at virtually every other position.

We have answered the silly question of whether Bill Belichick is any good without Tom Brady around. Randy Moss didn't quit on his teammates like many predicted in September. Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk proved again that you don't have to be 6'4" to be a receiving threat. We got a glimpse of some young talent in Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis and Jonathan Wilhite. It's been a transition year for the Patriots as they will have to get better and younger in a number of areas in order to compete in the coming years. Usually such a season is a lost cause but not for this team in this season.

For that, I'll be shouting my lungs out and clapping like crazy on Sunday. Et vous?

Idle Zinger thoughts while wondering what the hell a 3G Network is and how I've gotten along so well all this time without being connected to one.

Interestingly, when I walked into work this morning and said "Kevin Rousseau. Umass-Lowell" there wasn't thunderous applause and a voiceover talking about my single-season record for most memos in a year drawn-up-but-never-sent.

You often hear about a stadium or arena being considered a "hostile" environment. Would Ford Field be considered a "docile" one?

In the spirit of the Christmas season, will someone please spring for a haircut and beard groom for Oakland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan?

How much seagull poop do you think eventually landed on the "Commitment to Excellence" banner in the Black Hole yesterday?