Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
The Patriots are a team unlike any other team, playing in a league unlike any other league. They have changed the concept of spectator sports for us, extracting the time-tested notion of what might happen on any given Sunday. For Patriots fans, every week is Groundhog Week.
I got out of bed Monday morning to the sound of radio guys talking about how great the Patriots are and how stupid the Raiders were on Sunday. I heard that the Patriots are 17-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Gillette. I picked up the morning rags and saw where Tom Brady is being compared to Michelangelo. I heard humble Tom deflecting all credit on his contractually obligated weekly radio gig. I heard more radio commentary where hosts submitted an edgy, hot-take poll question forcing Pats fans to make a choice:
1. Are the Patriots awesome?
Or . . .
2. Are the Patriots, like, really awesome?
In that moment, I realized I can predict the future. I know everything that’s going to happen over the next six days. Playing in the Tomato Can AFC of 2017, the Patriots have eliminated all prospect of change, discovery, and probability. The sun will rise, the sun will set, and the Patriots will embarrass another ’fraidy-cat, ill-prepared opponent in a game that will feature no competition and no drama. A football game will become sheer performance art to further demonstrate the gap between the Bill Belichick Patriots and these pathetic, preposterous teams that lose their minds at the mere sight of Tom and Bill.
So here’s how this week will unfold.
Tuesday: Bill will deliver a conference call and tell us that the 2017 Dolphins actually remind him of the 1972 Dolphins who went 17-0 and won the Super Bowl. When Bill is asked about the status of mystery man Malcolm Mitchell, Bill will say, “We’re just doing what’s best for our football team.’’
Wednesday: Tom will answer questions for seven minutes, mention the TB12 Method a few times, get asked about eating avocado stuffing and avocado cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. Mid-session, Tom will abruptly smile, say, “Thanks, guys,’’ and be gone. Later in the day, Gronk will appear in the locker room briefly, deliver an obtuse remark, and everyone in the room will laugh hysterically.
Thursday: Fill-in hosts on radio and TV will try to generate phone calls with contrived topics. They will discuss Bob Kraft vs. Jerry Jones. They will insult ESPN for being Patriot Haters. They will suggest that Brady must be not only the greatest athlete of all time, but the greatest human being of all time. Late in the day, Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie will appear with Gary Tanguay on “New England Tailgate” and tell everyone to go to their steakhouse at Twin River Casino.
Friday: Every football reporter in America will pick the Patriots to win on Sunday. A relaxed Bill will launch into a 14-minute answer when he gets asked about the Army-Navy game.
Saturday: Once-great news station Channel 4 will air its weekly “All Access” infomercial/homage to the Patriots. Rochie will announce that Dolphins defenders Ndamukong Suh and Kiko Alonso have fevers of 104 degrees and will not play on Sunday.
Sunday: The Dolphins will win the coin toss and a quaking Adam Gase will make his first mistake by opting to take the football. In the first two quarters, the Dolphins will be penalized for delay of game, taunting, 12 men on the field, too many men on the ice, and offsides when Brady baits them with a long count on fourth and 1. The Patriots will fumble three times, but each fumble will magically bounce back into the hands of a Patriots player. A Dolphins punt returner will run into his own end zone and be tackled. Brady will throw two balls that should be intercepted, but both will careen off Dolphins defensive backs, and into the hands of Danny Amendola. Scott Zolak will pop a blood vessel while describing the action.
The Patriots will score on the final play of the first half to take a 23-0 lead at intermission. Then they will score on the first series of the second half while most fans are still sitting in front of the fireplaces behind the red-level seats.
The Patriots will win, 46-0. Brady will complete 36 of 38 passes for 399 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He will not be sacked. Belichick will say that the Dolphins are “a good football team,’’ and that the Patriots played well “in all three phases.’’
Next week it’s Buffalo and we get to do it all over again. It will be another week of a bum quarterback, zero competition, and abject stupidity from the other team.
I am spoiled. And in the absence of all suspense regarding every outcome, the hot-take question continues to haunt me.
I simply can’t decide if the Patriots are awesome or, you know . . . like, really awesome.
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