As much fun as it was watching the Patriots scrape out an 11-5 season after Tom Brady bit the dirt in the first quarter of their first game of the season (compounded by a whole pile of other injuries), it's going to be correspondingly unfun not watching them in the playoffs this weekend.
Some people hem and haw and say "They deserve to be in the playoffs!" and "The system is unfair! It should be changed!" I'm not into that. Everyone knows the rules going into the season. You have to either win your division or be one of the next two best teams in your conference. Didn't happen. Do they "deserve" to be in the playoffs? Without question. They're way better than most of the teams that are still alive. Is it unfair that they aren't in the playoffs? Absolutely not. They simply didn't qualify. Dem's da berries.
But, just to get it out of my system, here are some stats for ya.
4/12: Number of teams in playoffs with a worse record than the Pats out of total number of teams in playoffs. Three other playoff teams went 11-5.
1: Number of games more than the Patriots that the New York Giants won this year. The Giants. Yes. 12-4. Where are they now? Why, not only in the playoffs but with home-field advantage throughout. Ha!
4: The tiebreaker that lost it for the Pats. Tiebreaker #1 is head-to-head (1-1). Tiebreaker #2 is division record (both 4-2). #3 is common games (both 11-3). #4 is conference record. Miami was 8-4 and the Pats were 7-5. You may as well flip a coin. Wait, that's Tiebreaker #12. Oh, well.
10-6: The Giants' record last year, when they won the Super Bowl. Also the Pats' record the first year they won it. Also the record of the Vikings this year. The Vikings? Division winners. Playoff-bound. Had a better record than...
9-6-1: Eagles. Playoff-bound. Wild card, even.
9-7: Cardinals. Playoff-bound. Division winners.
8-8: Chargers. Playoff-bound. Division winners. 8-8? 8-8! The Cardinals could have finished 8-8 and won their division too. And almost did.
And by the way, the Chargers and Cardinals compiled those records in really crummy divisions. Although the Chargers did beat the Patriots this year. (But the Cardinals beat the Dolphins, and the Chargers were a better team, really. Ecch.)
The Patriots would have been fun to watch in the playoffs, what with Matt Cassel figuring this game out and all. Alas and alack, we'll get to watch the stellar Vikings-Eagles matchup and the highly-anticipated Falcons-Cardinals contest. It's annoying, but those are the rules.
We can whine all we want, but it all would have been immaterial if the Pats had just beaten the Jets at home in November.