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 ;-).


Is a $10 Billion Profit Looting?

MT made a very good point the other day. Gas prices has soared because of a cut in production capacity--so that, according to the laws of supply and demand, the prices goes up because of shortages.

So far, so good. A business exists to make money, and if an oil company needs to pay more to produce gasoline, they are perfectly within their rights to pass on the cost increases.

But when does a legitimate price increase became price gouging? The Boston Herald suggests that something is wrong when Exxon posts a record quarterly profit $10 billion of as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Here's how the Herald put it:

That's $110 million a day, and more net income than any company has ever made in a quarter. It's also a stunning 69 percent increase over the same period a year ago and a 34 percent jump from the $7.6 billion Exxon made just last quarter.

Something a little more than supply and demand is going on here.


Maybe organized religion isn't so bad after all, at least according to the New York Times, which reports on the efforts of churches to feed, house, and care for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. Those churches filled a vital role, especially when the leadership of FEMA has been disorganized and slow to react.

This section of the story tells it all:

"You just walk in," said Ethel Wicker, 57, who fled the Ninth Ward in New Orleans ahead of the storm that flooded it, as she dug into a Styrofoam container of oriental chicken in the gym of Florida Boulevard Baptist Church. "They have clothing. They have drinks. They have candy. And they treat you very well."

In contrast, she said, she and her daughter, Dionne Murphy, 37, had to wait for hours to get food stamps. And so far, she has gotten nothing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "The churches are handing out meals," she said. "The federal government hasn't handed out any funds to my knowledge."

Indeed, after a day of confusion and complaints about how to obtain debit cards worth at least $2,000 for immediate living expenses, David G. Passey, a spokesman for FEMA, said the agency had decided to end the distribution of the cards after a one-day trial. But later, FEMA officials in Washington said that distribution of the cards would resume on Friday.

Mr. Passey said that victims must register for assistance, and that checks or funds transfers would usually take between 10 days and two weeks to reach them.

But many people said they could not wait that long, or did not have the patience to deal with all the bureaucratic mix-ups. And churches have stepped into the void in what observers say is probably the largest such outpouring in recent memory, with tens of thousands of displaced people stretched out across the country.

"Certainly, in my history of 41 years as a Salvation Army officer, this is the greatest mobilization of churches in general, but definitely the Christian churches, who in my mind have come to truly realize what Jesus said in Matthew in the 25th chapter: 'Inasmuch as you do unto the least of me, you do unto me,' " said Commissioner W. Todd Bassett, the Salvation Army's national commander.

Even Southern Baptist, who usually don't fare well in the pages of the Times, are painted in a positive light--so far the SCC has provided 5,000 volunteers and served more than a million meals.


Powered by Blogger