Reflecting upon my frustrations over the Patriots last year and this season, I've come to realize that the NFL is getting more balanced than ever before while the Pats have declined from a "great" team to a "good" team. Hence, we just can't go into games against ANYONE anymore expecting an easy time of it, and can expect to lose the occasional game we "should" win on paper. The Jets loss, the Detroit sleepwalk and the pounding by Miami suggest as much. It boils down to unrealistic expectations. I thought the Jets loss was just a fluke and had high hopes that we'd run the table after beating Chicago. The way we played so flat against Detroit for three quarters had me genuinely angry. But looking back, it was a wakeup call -- at least to me -- that my expectation level remains skewed by 2003/2004. From here-on, I expect every game this team plays to be a dogfight. If we win two playoff games, I will be very, very surprised. And if the Houston game is a struggle for us, I won't be shocked. I realize that I'm pretty much stating the obvious here, but for me it's been a rather harsh reality check.