NFL Playoffs 2012: How New England Patriots Fans Feel Right Now

Marc FreshmanContributor IJanuary 3, 2012

New England Patriots' fans are uneasy about the possibility of confrontations with the Steelers and the Ravens.

For starters, it’s probably going to work out that way. So let’s just expect it.

Second of all, this is a good Super Bowl path to take. Yes, the odds of us getting to the Super Bowl would be dramatically decreased. We know this. But until the day they invent that memory-wiping thing from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I’ll continue being haunted by Super Bowl XLII. And so will the Patriots.

There’s no point of getting back to the Super Bowl if they’re not bringing the Lombardi trophy on a parade through Boston.

And there’s no point in getting to the big game if we’re not going to believe in our team.

Right now, we don’t believe in them. Not completely.

Nearly every win this season was difficult to get. The Redskins, the Colts, the Cowboys, the Dolphins, and the Bills gave us all we could handle, and those teams didn’t even make the playoffs.

Never once did Patriots' fans recline in their chairs, prop their feet up, crack open a beer in satisfaction, and enjoy the game. Every week was a potential migraine-inducing blunder. Every game was an uphill battle.

Only in Week 10, right after our second victory over the Jets, did Patriots' fans entertain the notion that the Patriots could be destined for something terrific.

Beating the Steelers and the Ravens would change everything about the perception of this team. More importantly, it’ll change the mindset of the Patriots. They’ll feel ready to run through a brick wall for that trophy. That’s the team we want.

It will either be the Giants, the Packers, or the Saints waiting in Indianapolis. These are arguably the best teams in the NFL right now. And although the Giants are the least skilled out of the three, they present the biggest challenge for the Patriots in a potential Super Bowl game.

Right now, the Giants are the only team that we should be rooting against. That’s a team we don’t want any part of. Aside from that, I’m open to any opponent. We all should be.

The Giants have four gears: The bad, good, really good, and we-hate-the-Patriots great. The Steelers and the Ravens also have their rivalries with the Patriots, but it’s not an actual gear of greatness they reserve for New England.

They treat the Patriots with the same respect they reserve for any tough opponent.

Look, the Steelers and the Ravens are fixtures of the AFC. These are terrific teams who are “in it” every year. It wouldn’t hurt to prove our worth against them in the playoffs. It’s all about furthering the legacy of the Patriots. And those two wins would do a lot.

I don’t want to enter the history books in the wrong way. I don’t want another lost Super Bowl on our record. I want this team tough, prepared, and brutal.

I want a Patriots team with Steelers blood on their tongue and fragments of Ravens bones in their teeth. I want a Patriots team that’s going to win it all.

But the general consensus amongst Patriots Nation is that this is a house of cards, and a slight blow will topple this thing completely.

That’s valid. If you got burned by your last three or four exes, you’re probably not going to rush into another relationship with starry-eyed idealism.

You’ll probably do to them what we’ve been doing to the Patriots all year: Pick apart their weaknesses, and focus on all the reasons they aren’t good enough.

It’s important to remember that this Patriots team is awesome. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are changing the face of the tight end position. We have both of them, and we have Wes Welker and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. That’s incredible.

Plus, Patrick Chung is back. And Sterling Moore and Devin McCourty are blossoming at just the right time.

It’s also worth noting that eight of our guys made the Pro Bowl. And we have arguably the best quarterback and coach in the history of football on our side.

Did I mention we have a bye and home field advantage?

This is all great stuff. Think about where the Jets are now.

Yeah our defense is unreliable, but the Packers have the same problem. In a Patriots vs. Packers Super Bowl, it’s pretty much even. Like I said, as long as I don’t have to see Eli Manning and Jason Pierre-Paul, I’m a happy guy.

Patriots' fans are bummed because the last four seasons have ended in horrific fashion, and we struggled so mightily against bad teams this year. Most fans are waiting for reality to catch up with the Patriots.

Fans are waiting for a playoff loss to confirm their own suspicions, so they can have the I-told-you-so moment.

Also the ability to say: “See, our secondary does suck,” and “See McCourty, Ochocinco, and Anderson are worthless,” and “See, Tom Brady’s shoulder is injured.”

Amidst all the bad stuff we're 13-3. We’re the best team in our conference. It’s not a reason to pop the champagne corks, but it’s certainly a reason to feel good about our chances.


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