Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pregame jitters

At the risk of "disrespecting" the three-time champs, I spent a good amount of time this week fretting about this matchup.

The Jaguars, a stealth 12-4 during the regular season, are constructed to win this time of year. They feature a sturdy front seven on defense, an offense that lacks flash but makes the most of its opportunities, and a fiery coach gets his team to play with ferocity and, with the exception of an occasional Marcus Stroud meltdown, intelligence.

No, they are not as deep or talented as the Patriots, and given their lack of big-game experience, it would be a stunner if they were as poised or prepared. But given a fortunate bounce or two from the Football Gods, I feared the Jags were equipped to put a scare into them, and perhaps even thwart this presumed journey to a threepeat before it barely began.

Notice I said feared. Past tense.

See, the more I thought about this, the more I considered the Pats' flawless recent postseason track record, the more I talked to unbiased buddies who root for other teams, know their stuff, and confidently predict a run-of-the-mill Pats victory today, well, the more clarity I gained. It was then I realized that tonight's game boils down to one plainly obvious truth:

When the season is at stake, take Brady, Belichick, Vinatieri and the rest of this proven championship crew over Leftwich/Garrard, Del Rio, some lonesome kicker, and Fred Taylor's surgically reconstructed pulled hangnail every single damn time.

And twice on Saturday.

Take the champs, 27-10.