On the Road to Super Bowl XL

In case anyone is wondering, the Patriots will win the Super Bowl when it rolls around next January. The franchise that 10 or 12 years ago was the laughingstock of the NFL will make in four championships in five years, not to mention three in a row.

Some do not believe.

Ron Borges picked the Colts.

Skip Bayless hears whispers in his ears that make him doubt.

Others say the loss of Charlie Weis (head coach, Notre Dame), Romeo Crennell (head coach Browns), Tedy Brushi (stroke), Ted Johnson (retirement), and Ty Law (now a NY Jet), is too much to over come.

Oh ye of little faith.

Here's why they will win.

First, they have great players. In an age of "selfish, uncoachable, fundamentally unsound athletes" as Dan Shaunessy put it, the Patriots have assembled a roster of unselfish, extremely coachable, fundementally sound players. The teams scouting manual says it all, as the Boston Herald reported. ``We're building a big, strong, tough, smart, disciplined football team that consistently competes for championships.''

Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Deon Branch, and on down the line, the team is filled with great football players.

Second, they have a great coach. Vince Lombardi, whose name is on the NFL championship trophy, won 9 playoff games in his career. Bill Belichick, the Patriots coach, has won ten. Enought said.

Third, the Patriots thin-slice better than any team in football. Thin-slicing, as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in Blink is the ability to make sense of complex situation based on the "thinnest slice of experience"--like doctors in Chicago who can diagnose heart attacks based on very basic information, or art experts who recognized a fake statue by taking one quick look at it (to the chagrin of a museum that spent months reseaching and paid millions for it) and researcher who can tell if a couple will divorce based on taped snippets of their conversations.

It's not just gut instinct or intuition. Thin-slicing is super-fast thinking that can be taught. If you spend enough time diagnosing a situation, and find the right clues, than you can learn to thin slice to. That's what the Patriots do best. The coaches and players diagnose their opponents, through scouting and film work primarily (as Michael Holley points out in Patriot Reign), find three or four keys to beating them, and then focus on those areas only. Many reporters and broadcasters who cover the Patriots seem to say the same thing over and over again--the Patriots are always in the right place, at the right time. That's not be accident, and it's why they'll win another Super Bowl this year.

Ok, that's enough prognosticating for me. Until the World Series begins ;-).


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