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Old 12-04-2007, 08:57 PM   #1
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Default Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

Dec 4, 7:55 PM (ET)

By TIM DAHLBERG

Conspiracy theorists can start lining up. Those waiting to cash their tickets on the New England Patriots finishing the regular season undefeated can do the same in the Las Vegas sports books.

One group thinks it has good reason to smell something fishy. The other knows it has good reason to start celebrating early.

It won't be official until sometime late in the evening of Dec. 29, but start spreading the news. After an escape Monday night that would have made Houdini proud, the New England Patriots will go 16-0 and become the first team to finish a season undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

I'm not exactly stepping out on a ledge predicting that. After all, the Patriots are 12-0 and favored by nearly two touchdowns against Pittsburgh this weekend in one of their two toughest remaining games.

There's another reason for the Patriots to win them all, one that will loom larger with each passing Sunday. That one has conspiracy types beginning to look under every rock to see if the fix could possibly be in.

Some members of the Baltimore Ravens think so. Hard to fault them after a bizarre series of plays turned what looked like certain victory into defeat and left them fuming at both the calls and the attitude of the referees.

"It's hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time," cornerback Chris McAlister said. "They put the crown on top of them. They want them to win. They won."

Laughable as that might seem in a league which prides itself on an image that everything is always on the up-and-up, it may not be too far-fetched. Almost to a man, the Ravens seemed to think it was not just fate lined up against them in Monday night's 27-24 loss.

Just the week before the Patriots seemed to get another break when a questionable touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the first half against the Eagles wasn't even reviewed in the booth, a decision that left Philadelphia fans steaming.

Silly? Maybe. But the NFL has only itself to blame for the perception even existing.

That's because there is money to be made if the Patriots go undefeated, big money, and not just the kind handed over the counter at the sports books.

No, the league isn't raiding its rainy-day fund to take the Patriots to run the table, a bet that is increasingly popular in Vegas. But a lot is riding on whether the Patriots are unbeaten going into the Dec. 29 game against the New York Giants.

The NFL wants it to be must-see TV, but to see it you must watch the league's own NFL Network. It's one of eight games the league kept for itself this year, and one which some 70 million households won't be able to see because of a bitter dispute the NFL is having with cable companies.

The more valuable the game, the more leverage the NFL figures it will have to force cable operators to carry the network on the lucrative basic cable tier. By far the most valuable game left this year will almost surely be Pats/Giants.

Take away the historic angle and it becomes a meaningless game between two teams most likely resting their stars for the playoffs. Make it mean something big and the NFL has a golden opportunity to force the hands of the cable companies.

The stakes are huge. If the NFL signs up all the major cable companies, it could be looking at revenues perhaps as high as $1 billion a year just for the network itself.

So do the referees have instructions to make sure the Patriots get the benefit of the doubt on crucial calls so they remain unbeaten? Hardly.

NFL officials have historically been unimpeachable, and not even the craziest of the conspiracy crazies have any evidence that there is a Tim Donaghy out there.

Then again, might they be subtly influenced by the rich intersection of history and money to bend just a little at just the right time?

Sure seemed that way Monday night to a lot of casual viewers when the Patriots survived three apparent fourth-down stops by Baltimore on their final drive to score the game winner on a pass that could have been called either way.

Sure seemed that way to Ravens linebacker Bart Scott, who was penalized 30 yards for yelling at the referees and throwing a ref's flag after the winning touchdown.

It was a brutal loss for the Ravens, who were hoping to salvage a dismal season by winning their biggest game of the year. They might be excused for reacting the way they did, though it's not likely the NFL will excuse what they had to say.

Fines will be had, mouths will be zipped, and the Patriots will move on.

http://sports.excite.com/news/12042007/v8570.html
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

The Cheaters got the NFL on their side. Now what else is not shocking?
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

I really don't like these conspiracy theories, as they only serve to legitimize the whiny-ass crybabies that tried to taint our win in SB XL. Think about it. The fact of the matter is, there are a LOT of lousy teams in the NFL this year, and even the so-called "elite" teams, including the Patriots, have glaring weaknesses. Welcome to the free-agency, salary cap, and expansion-watered down NFL of the 21st century.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

With all the conspiracy theories in hand, don't be surprised if the patria-cheats don't get so many calls this coming Sunday!!!
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

As long as there arent any questionable calls, I wont jump on that bus.


If there is one or two though...that would make 3 weeks in a row of questionable calls and it will only build momentum going into the last few games.
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Old 12-05-2007, 05:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

Nobody seems to mention the fact that the Ravens were holding the Patriots for the entire game. But the refs finally call one and suddenly it's a conspiracy? Was it a borderline call? Probably. But conspiracy? Give me a break! What in the hell would be the motivation for the NFL? Yeah, cause the commish loves the Pats. The last thing the league wants is a 16-0 team. They want parity. conspiracy talk is for whackjobs.

The Ravens came in with a game plan: Jam, knock down and hold the Pats until they got called for it. It worked for 3 and a half quarters. Don't whine when they finally get called for it. If anybody got an advantage from the officiating it was the Ravens. If the game had been officiated in the spirit of the rules (especially with the new emphasis on holding after the Colts cried about being knocked around by the Pats in 2003) the Ravens lose by a lot more than three points.
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Old 12-05-2007, 05:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

Well..........since they obviously gave the game to us in Detroit.....maybe they'll tip it our way on Sunday.

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Old 12-05-2007, 08:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

This is a bit much. Did the NFL somehow influence Billick to make poor coaching choices? Is it the NFL's fault that the Ravens make more excuses then any other team in the league? That the team is filled with hotheads like Bart Scott?

The Partriots aren't even particularly liked oiutside the northeast and the frontrunner market. Why would the NFL back a franchise that cheated?

Sure, the refs are a little easy on the superstars of the game, and it's the Pats turn to get away with a lot of holding to protect Brady, but every sport has their exceptions. The announcers nuthug Manny Ramirez for his "great eye and ability to lay off bad pitches" when the reality is the dude has the smallest callable strike zone in the history of the MLB. But that's just the way things are.

Also, did anybody mention anywhere that the Eagles used hand signals in their game instead of headphones?
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Old 12-05-2007, 08:28 AM   #9
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

Nobody wants to mention that the Ravens had them and they screwed up when their coach called a timeout.

That had nothing to do with the refs. Baltimore, as well as they played, were just too damn tanglefooted as a team top to bottom to put away the best in the NFL.

Go back to the Steelers/Colts playoff game in '06. The refs got caught up in the game and started making some strange calls; they "cracked". Not intentionally, but it happened. Then all the weird stuff started going the Colts' way... and Bus fumbled.... Someone needs to step up and break the chain of fortune, someone has to overcome the confluence of events. For the Steelers, Ben stuck his arm out and tripped up the Colts' DB who was taking the fumble for a TD, and we know the rest of the story; whats-is-name missed the FG, and we win it all.

No one did that for the Ravens. The play it needed to happen on was the one after the motion penalty, the 4th and 6 Brady scramble. They needed to bring 6 guys and pressure the Pats like they'd been doing all game. But they didn't, they rushed 3 and we know the rest of the story.

No one lost that game but the Ravens. They had them where they wanted and they let them off the hook.
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Old 12-05-2007, 08:48 AM   #10
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Default Re: Who Wants the Patriots to Win? the NFL Surely Does, for 1

I dont think its a conspiracy...just incompetance
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