....though I have to confess that I didn't learn much as I watched the game while down at Foxwoods playing in a very competitive 7 card stud cash game; so my thoughts will be relegated to the very general since I was clearly not concentrating on the game...until mid-way through the 4th quarter when I finally left the table to watch the end of the game. 1. I keep harping on the fact that the results of this game shouldn't that surprising. First as I have said many time, the actual individual talent of the players on each squad ISN'T all that different. The worst player on the worst team in the NFL is an amazing athlete (excluding the kickers. of course. ) The Lions have some excellent players as we saw yesterday. They rushed Brady better than the Bears. They executed their passing game fairly well. What they DIDN'T do, is make the 3-4 key plays that separate the good teams from the bad ones. Fortunately the Pats made those plays and won the game. WINNING IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS, and when the playoffs come around and we finding out how the playoffs will be seeded, whether we won this game by one point or a hundred is completely irrelevant....and by and large forgotten. What some fans forget, and what the media CHOSES to ignore is how competitive this league really is. The only difference in this game if you HAD to point things out is that while their QB is good, ours is GREAT. AND while their team was trying to figure out how to NOT to lose, ours was playing as though they EXPECTED to win. SO, all that was different in this game was a slightly better quarterback and a better mental attitude. THAT is not much of an edge, but I would suggest, for the most part, THIS IS the ONLY edge that the Pats have when they go into every game they play. Yes I know that this is a very simplistic analogy, but to expand on it would take a book and EVEN I don't have the patience to do that. BOTTOM LINE when we look back on this fantastic run the Pats have made in the past 5 years, it is made even more fantastic by the fact that this team and organization has DOMINATED (relatively speaking, of course), while having to play on a VERY even playing field as far as talent is concerned. 2. NEVER underestimate how a little extra time to prepare makes on a game. The coaching in this league IS THAT GOOD. Think about it. One of the unmentioned stories of the Jets victory over the Pats is that the Jets had a full week EXTRA to prepare for the game. I don't think its a coincidence that the Lions put on such an unexpectedly good performance after having an EXTRA 3 days to get ready for the Pats. For all the crap Martz gets (especially around here), he is STILL one of the best OC's and offensive minds in the game, and quite frankly the skill players he has in Detroit are not that far from the level of those he had in St Louis. From what I saw, this Lions team is merely a serious attitude adjustment away from being a very serious contender in the NFC....at least the offense is. 3. Yesterday we saw ANOTHER reason WHY the Pats won't pay ANY WR elite money. Not only did Reche Caldwell go over 100 yds and continue to show that he can be the equal of David Givens; the best WR on the field was this Furrey kid, who spent last season as a safety with the Rams. The point being is that there are a LOT of great athletes that can play WR to the level that they can contribute to a successful NFL passing attack. In a supply/demand situation it is foolhardy to play PREMIUM money for a position with the LARGEST supply of QUALITY potential applicants. Its THAT simple. As we have seen, given good coaching, a good QB, and most importantly TIME to work together, even a WR corps made up of relatively "average" players, can produce a passing offense that is effective enough to win the NFL. Do you think that guys like Givens (7th round pick), Furrey (UDFA), and Colliston (7th round Pick) down in NO are the only exceptions to the rule. No there are lots of them, and it gets proven more each game. AND each game I become more convinced that the Pats did the right thing with BOTH Deon and David. They would have loved to resign BOTH, but were never going to pay a PREMIUM price for either. Their skills are just TOO EASY to replace. What hurt the Pats most was not the loss of the skills those players possessed, but the loss of EXPERIENCE they brought to the offense. 4. It is encouraging to note with the emergence of Reche Caldwell that he had a full 2 month advantage of working with Brady and its starting to show. Except for Brown, all the rest of the WR corps hasn't had even THAT much time to work with Tom. It bodes well, not only for the rest of this year; but for future years as well (assuming this WR corps remains essentially intact). We CANNOT truly judge the talent that is currently here, until they have had a full off season and training camp to get this pass offense together. 5. Watchout for the AFCE. This division will go from the outhouse to the penthouse in a single season. The Dolphin loss yesterday, not withstanding, the AFCE is getting stronger every week, the best example yesterday was the thrashing of the Packers (BTW is there really a more sorry team in the NFL?) by the Jets, and the escape of SD (perhaps the best team in the league) from Buffalo with a 3 point win, despite the miracle that is LT having still ANOTHER HOF day. By next season the AFCE with have 4 very balanced teams with excellent prospects....and that SUCKS. 6. Speaking of the Jets, and although I generally hate ALL things NYC, but I have to smile when I see how well that team is doing. Along with the 49ers and Saints, there is no better story that seeing the Jets at 7-5 under...."you know who" . Mangini HAS to be up there for coach of the year. Maybe that's why Bill is so pissed. He probably KNEW how good this kid would be, and didn't want him in the division. 7. I'll end this now before I start to bore you with poker "bad beat" stories....like the time I was drawing to 4 to a heart flush, four to a double ended straight AND a high pair. I only needed 2 pair win a HUGE pot. I had 15 cards available (to my knowledge) to get to win the hand. The dealer only had 17 cards in her hands to deal out the last round. Just then, the Pats fumbled the ball and I drew a duece of clubs. And that is why NO ONE wants to hear abouts SOMEONE ELSE'S "bad beat" story.