Team: New England Patriots
2018 Record: 11-5 (1st, AFC East)
2019 Record: 4-0 (1st, AFC East)
Outlook: In case you’ve been in a coma for the past 25 years, I have some surprising news for you. The New England Patriots have forged the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL.
The former perennial AFC East doormats have won the division 15 of the past 16 seasons. The one year they didn’t win the division, they went 11-5. They have been in the AFC Championship game eight years in a row. They have been in the Super Bowl the past three years, winning twice, including last season.
This year, the Patriots are undefeated, with a defense that has been the best in the NFL so far, and is as good as any in the league, with the possible exception of the Chicago Bears. New England has allowed just 27 points through four games, by far the best in the NFL. Forty-two-year-old Tom Brady has thrown seven touchdown passes against just one interception.
How Worried Should We Be?: (*Yawn*). Wait a second. Is that a typo? ”Yawn” is the lowest level possible. Shouldn’t we be terrified? The Patriots have the best team in the league, and the Redskins just lost to the Giants(!) by three touchdowns(!!!) to fall to 0-4.
Sure, in a conventional sense, the Patriots are terrifying. All you analytic statheads out there will be quick to point out that the Redskins are underdogs for the 13th consecutive game, with New England being more than a two-touchdown favorite at Washington.
But I’m not worried.
Make no mistake. The Pats will destroy the Redskins by as many points as they wish to, and they’ll do so in front of a nearly even mixture of empty seats and transplanted New Englanders.
In case you’ve been in a coma for the past 25 years, I have some surprising news for you. The Washington Redskins have become the most consistently hapless organization in the NFL.
The former perennial NFC East contenders have won the division exactly twice this century. The two years they won it, they were 10-6 and 9-7. They haven’t been in the NFC Championship game since the 1991 season, when only 10 of the players on the Redskins’ current active roster were alive. Every single NFC team has been to at least one conference title game since that time, except for the team the Redskins beat in January of ‘92, the Detroit Lions.
This year, the Redskins are winless, with a defense that was supposed to be a strength turning out to be a massive disappointment. Washington has allowed 118 points, the second-worst total in the NFL. Twenty-one-year-old Dwayne Haskins threw for no touchdowns against three interceptions in the first action of his NFL career, and Washington has no good short-term options at that position. Even Jay Gruden—the head coach of the team (for the next three days, anyway)—says he doesn’t know what to do at quarterback, a statement sure to fan the flames of fan discontent.
With all of that in mind, why am I not worried?
Lots of reasons! So many good ones!
Because watching football should be enjoyable. And, if it isn’t enjoyable more often than not, you should stop watching. Because life is too short to lose sleep over a professional football team.
It isn’t correct to say that football “doesn’t matter” or “isn’t important.” The growing chorus of sports journalists who dismiss football as barbaric, overly violent, and antiquated do themselves and us a disservice by downplaying its unquestioned value and beauty.Football, when done right, matters a lot. As a player, it teaches discipline, sacrifice, perseverance, teamwork, selflessness, and much more. Even just as a spectator, football can be the substrate for positive experiences and memories that connect you forever to the most important people in your life.
It has been all of those things for me. But if you think that, in the early stages of middle age, I’m going to pull out my now-graying hair because Case Keenum throws an interception, or Josh Norman gets burned deep, or Ryan Kerrigan pass-rushes himself out of a play, you’re absolutely insane.
So long as the Redskins exist, I’ll never stop being a fan. I’ll watch this game, at least at the outset. And I’ll root for the Skins, as I always do. But, if it becomes apparent that Washington will be non-competitive, I won’t hesitate to flip over to Red Zone instead.
I encourage you to do the same. Or maybe just go for a walk. Or go see a movie. Or catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Or bake a cake. Whatever!
The point is that you are not obligated to endure this misery.
It isn’t your responsibility.
You don’t play for the team. You aren’t employed by the organization. You don’t cover the team for a living. If you do fall into any of those categories, God help you, but all or nearly all of you don’t, and you need not suffer.
Look, the Redskins may not exist in 10 years. The NFL may not exist in 40 years. Far more importantly, everyone reading this will more than likely not exist in 100 years.
Time slips away from us more quickly with each passing moment. Find a way to enjoy your Sunday. If that means walking away from the Redskins this weekend, do it.
No, scratch that. Don’t walk away.
Run toward those things that bring meaning and happiness to your life. Because it’s been a long time since the Redskins did that for most of us.
How worried should we be about the New England Patriots?
This poll is closed
Human existence is so fragile, so fleeting, that expending even a minuscule fraction of our emotional or intellectual energies concerning ourselves about the fate of an unwaveringly incompetent professional football franchise flies in the face of reason.