January 11, 2012
Breaking The Patriot Playoff Losing Streak
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
Easy win. Just like the Jets last year.
Twelve months ago, all of Patriot Nation salivated at the prospect of facing the New York Jets in the Divisional Playoff round. The Patriots had just faced the Jets a few weeks before, on a Monday night at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots embarrassed the Jets, 45-3, and left Rex Ryan looking like a total buffoon in the process. Now here come the Jets again, and a certain Patriot win turned into a shocking 28-20 loss which to this day is still hard to explain.
Hard, yes, but not impossible.
It's a strange Catch-22 in store for everyone Saturday night in Foxborough. All signs point to a Patriot win over a Denver Broncos team they beat last month in Denver, 41-23. But it's also a good possibility that a repeat of 2010 could happen, in that a team certain to lose comes into Foxborough and catches the Patriots on a bad night bringing their "D" game. It's eerily similar to last year, so eerie that many fans might prepare themselves for still another Patriot playoff loss instead of an AFC Championship Game at home the weekend following.
To avoid a repeat of last year's abomination, the Patriots need to tweak things just a little bit. Some of it involves changing mindsets, and some of it is embellishing upon some newfound innovation which naturally the rules committee will have to change.
First of all, bringing back Josh McDaniels as a consultant was nice. But it is not enough.
McDaniels can give you some input on some tendencies regarding Tim Tebow and other Bronco individuals. But he is of limited experience in knowing what Denver will do as a team. As Bronco head coach John Fox said, things are different now than when he was there. And he's right.
The problems aren't really with the offense, which is McDaniel's specialty. As long as Tom Brady doesn't pick this game to be his worst of the year, like last year's Jets playoff game, the Patriots will put up points. It's the defense that needs the consultants (and don't tell the head coach this, but a defensive coordinator also). This defense is the worst in the league. It's nice to know that the second worst defense is the other number one seed (Green Bay). But that matters not. We are concerned with the Patriots, not the Packers.
More consultants are in order. Let's get out our cell phones and call up:
Willie McGinest, defensive line. You can reach him at the NFL Network.
Tedy Bruschi, linebackers. He's just down the road in Bristol, Connecticut, at ESPN's casa.
Rodney Harrison, secondary. Head down to 30 Rock and ask the Peacock if we can borrow him. His time with Dan Patrick and Tony Dungy is done for this year.
There you go. Three guys who knew how to win Super Bowls. Three good locker room guys. Three guys who are so well respected that they are now all television analysts. Bring them all in and unleash them all on those poor saps who can't defend the pass or understand how to beat a team in January. Now that's consulting for you.
Now, for some real PW (that's "psychological warfare" for those of you in Rio Linda, says Rush Limbaugh).
The Patriots were installed as 14-point favorites. It's now 13 ½ points for the Pats. Get rid of this drivel immediately.
As of right now, the Broncos are seven-point faves. Tim Tebow is half of this, and some supreme being is the other half.
Exhibit A: The Patriots were 14-point dogs in Super Bowl XXXVI. How'd that turn out?
The Patriots historically play much better when they are either the underdogs or behind in national perception. When the Patriots feel like the world is against them, they come out with a purpose and do the necessary things to win in January. When they get comfortable, then things like losing a Super Bowl when you're 18-0 or losing at home to a Jets team you just spanked by 42 points happen. This is how the Patriots of ten years ago learned how to do it, and it is time this current bunch of Patriots did the same.
Tebow will find his own way to uplift himself in battle. Or, the Patriots could do it for him.
Bill Belichick is a master at making the 2008 Detroit Lions seem like the 1985 Chicago Bears. What Belichick needs to do is make Tebow seem like Peyton Manning. Or Drew Brees. Or Aaron Rodgers.
Or Tom Brady.
Belichick has to convince everyone on the planet, especially the players in uniform Saturday night, that Tebow will come at them as if his Lord has taken temporary residence inside his body and can suddenly make plays like no one ever has. Tebow will run the ball like no other. Tebow will pass the ball like no other. Tebow will be so good that he will even stand on Elvis Patriot at the 50-yard-line and a ray of sunshine will beam down on him during the crisp Foxborough evening sky.
The key word here, of course, is "convince". Tebow is who he is and what he is. It is important that the Patriots think Tebow is more than that. The Patriots must pretend, or be under some delusion, that Tebow will be the ultimate personification of the sixth chapter of Ephesians, verses 10-17 (you'll have to go and look it up yourself, out of respect for non-believers or others of different faiths). Then, if that be the case, it will be the Patriots who wind up carrying out the Word better than Tebow.
If you want one more PW angle to play with, you can go to your history books instead of the Bible and find even more fodder to help inspire the Patriots.
Historically, Pittsburgh was a much more desirable playoff opponent to come to Foxborough than Denver. The Patriots are 3-1 all-time against the Steelers in the postseason, but are 0-2 lifetime against the Broncos. Before last Sunday, the last Bronco postseason win came in 2005 against your Patriots, 27-13 at Invesco Field.
But both those losses to the Broncos were at Denver. This will be the first ever postseason meeting between these two teams at Foxborough. Since the merger, the Patriots are 5-4 against Denver in Foxborough, which may not seem like much, but it is much better than the Patriots' record at Denver during that same stretch (3-14 including the win this year).
So, if you are Bill Belichick, you have to again get creative. Tebow is really John Elway. Willis McGahee is really Terrell Davis. Demaryius Thomas is really Rod Smith. Eddie Royal is really Ed McCaffrey. Daniel Fells is really Shannon Sharpe. Elvis Dumervil is really Neil Smith. Von Miller is really Bill Romanowski. Fox is really Mike Shanahan. These guys never lost to the Patriots. Make the Patriots think these guys are on the other side of the ball, not the current ones.
Some of this sounds either fanciful, facetious, or both. It really isn't. This is how the Patriots should prepare to beat Denver. Let Belichick make with the X's and O's all he wants. This is how you deal with the Billys and Joes. This is what will get you the win on Saturday night and back into the right January frame of mind.
Otherwise, if the Patriots look ahead to Baltimore the next Sunday and treat the Broncos and Tebow as an afterthought whom they handled real good in December, it will be three home playoff losses in a row. And no fabled quarterback or higher being will change that.
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