Saturday, November 14, 2009



I can appreciate that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are both great NFL quarterbacks. They and their teams are the Stuffed Chicken Marsala and Tour of Italy of the NFL–perennially delicious and on the brain without so much of a glance at the other fare on the menu. They’re always good. And I understand that, yes, these teams have played each other every year since 2003 and occasionally meet in the playoffs. But does that really make Colts-Patriots a rivalry?

Merriam-Webster defines rival as simply, “one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess.” But doesn’t that apply to all 32 teams in the NFL? You know, besides the Browns? What makes this “rivalry” different. Well, aside from the fact that the Colts and Patriots shared a division until the 2002 season, not a whole hell of a lot.

The teams don’t exactly share similarities–the Patriots are a shrewd, defensive-minded team cast in the image of their maker/videographer Bill Belichick. The Foxboro defense relies on both exuberant team speed and sometimes parts discarded from other clubs. The Colts, conversely, let it all hang out, and are happy to let Pey-Pey lead the offense’s expeditions to the end zone and hope that the defense can keep up. It’s the same blueprint that the Saints have used in their own digs; when a team plays more than half their games in favorable climates, you can do that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a badass game. But that’s all it is. There’s no turf war between Boston and Indianapolis, no bolstered competitiveness that can’t be found in any other game involving great teams. But when two of the league’s best get together on national TV, there’s doesn’t have to be.

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