Kravitz: Boston columnist has had too much chowdah
First of all, I'd like to thank Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe for saving me the long trip to New England. Apparently, there's no reason for me to make the trek, if I'm reading Tuesday's Globe column correctly. The Colts are, in his words, another in a long line of "tomato cans" who will bow before the great Patriot behemoth.
Why bother, right?
Now, I'm not going to put on a cheerleader's skirt and wave pompoms in an effort to ingratiate myself to our local readership. (And that ship sailed a long time ago, I'm quite sure.) I'm not going to tell you that the Colts are going to win Saturday night; I believe they have better than a puncher's chance, but gun to head, I'm taking the Pats 24-20.
But my man Shaughnessy is ODing on chowdah if he thinks the Colts are going to roll into Foxboro and crawl into the fetal position.
It's not so much about the Colts. It's about the Patriots: They're good but they're not great, not the great world-beaters they were back in 2003, '04 and '07. And they haven't been for a couple of years.
Shaughnessy says it himself: "Give me the Myth. Give me Team Luck."
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That's it: They are a modern-day myth. And they've needed their fair share of luck, and miracle comebacks, to forge that 12-4 record. (Which should sound familiar to Colts fans.) This isn't like the 2007 team that rolled over everybody by three touchdowns and set all kinds of records (since broken) in the process.
They're good, very good, an overachieving team that's done remarkable things despite suffering a spate of injuries. Twelve wins without Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Vince Wilfork, among others, is an amazing accomplishment, and further reinforces the notion that Bill Belichick is an extraordinary coach.
In their last seven playoff games, the Patriots are 3-4. After starting 10-0 in the postseason, Brady and his team are 7-7.
Since reaching the Super Bowl in 2007 (that was the 18-0 team who lost to the Giants), the Patriots have lost three home playoff games, twice to Baltimore and once to the New York Jets.
They have a regular- and postseason record every other franchise envies, but without Brandon Spikes, Tommy Kelly, Jerod Mayo, Hernandez and Wilfork, the Patriots are not the dominant team they once were. Good, very good, but not dominant.
As former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt might say – and he said it several years ago – the Patriots are "vulnerable," and have been for a couple of years.
Even Shaughnessy agrees with that, making my point while attempting to make his point.
"You know this Patriots team is nothing like those mastodons who dominated the NFL in 2003, 2004 and 2007," he wrote. "This team has a great coach and a great quarterback and not much else. This team has overcome innumerable hits and overachieved and earned its playoff bye…"
But not without some head-scratching victories – although, in truth, the Colts seem to own a monopoly on head-scratching, come-from-nowhere victories. The Pats needed a last-second touchdown pass to beat the Saints at home. They needed a miraculous comeback to beat the Broncos at home. They somehow knocked off the Browns with two touchdowns in the last two minutes.
Give them credit for all of that, just as you give the Colts credit for all their come-from-behind heroics. The point, though, is these aren't the Patriots who used to tangle on an almost-annual basis with Peyton Manning's Colts. These Patriots don't scare anybody. Not anymore.
"The Patriots are ready to dance to the Waltz of the Tomato Cans straight into the AFC championship game," Shaughnessy wrote.
Tomato cans? A speed bump on the way to the title game against – we think – the Denver Broncos?
"With all due respect, this is something of a joke," he wrote.
Well, it's with all due respect, so there's that.
"In short, Saturday is shaping up as a party night for the guys in the lifeguard chairs," he wrote.
At least Shaughnessy gave Pagano credit for signing former Patriot Deion Branch, who might be useful in the intelligence department.
"Very Belichickian," Shaughnessy wrote.
"But it all changes on Saturday. Pagano will lose his football mind at the sight of Belichick and Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium. He will forget everything he ever knew about the gridiron … Foxborough will prove too much for the man. He will be swallowed up like Gary Kubiak, John Fox, Sean Payton, Jack Del Rio, Marty Schottenheimer and Belichick's personal stooge, Greg Schiano."
Just as long as he doesn't go for it on fourth and two deep in his own territory, Pagano should be just fine.
The Colts are going to play the Patriots off their feet Saturday. They are going to be in this game until the end. I'll take New England to pull it out at the finish, but it won't be a laugher.
With all due respect.
Bet you a chowdah on it.