Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Nov 2005

Pats Has a Nice Ring to It

OK, if you've been waiting for Bill Simmons to give his take on Pats-Colts, here it is. Guess who he picks. C'mon, guess. The idea here is that the Pats are just too hungry for the Colts to beat them. Which is fine and dandy, except here are a few names that Bill doesn't mention when talking about how the three-time champions simply will not accept losing: Duane Starks, Arturo Freeman, Nick Kazcur, Monty Beisel, and Heath Evans. This game isn't about Tom Brady and Tedy Bruschi. It's about whether those guys can fill the holes.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 04 Nov 2005

55 comments, Last at 06 Nov 2005, 3:53pm by PatsFan


by Bobby Mozitis (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:01pm

I love Simmons and bought his book. However, he is still too firm a believer in things like "hunger" and "swagger" (actually, i would like to read a good article about this whole "swagger" thing sometime.)

by djcolts (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:09pm

How could this prediction surprise anyone? I'm not saying he's wrong - but one thing it isn't is surprising.

by ajn (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:13pm

i think simmons really is engaging (anyone catch his comment on cassell in his nba preview...i couldn't stop laughing), but this is ridiculous. not to pull out the cliche-book, but the only way this pats teams beats this colts team is if peyton and company shoot themselves in the foot. or if an early snowstorm graces southern massachusetts...

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:23pm

Aside from the actual pick, this seems like a pretty good take on the situation. He's right that the Pats tend to play very well in big games, and he says directly that the Colts should win, etc... Of course, he then contradicts the more or less sound reasoning with his actual pick, but then he says that this game is their whole season. No word on if that's how the Pats feel.

That said, my favorite line in the piece is this one:

Tedy Bruschi sits in front of the camera, maybe four months after suffering a deadly stroke that could have killed him.

by cma (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:32pm

Interesting. By Simmons' logic, because the Patriots have won, they will never stop winning. Apparently the Patriots have also beaten the laws of physics.

by Shadow (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:33pm

I read half of that glurge article, waiting for the rest of picks, but, you know, way to ignore the rest of the games for one.

by Dan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:38pm

from page 2: "Before you hand the Colts a ring, Bill Simmons has a few reasons why you shouldn't count out the Pats."

Didn't Simmons already predict that the Manning brothers would face off in Super Bowl 40?

by Kuato (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:38pm

I'm so inspired.

by Harry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:39pm


Exactly what I was thinking. 'Skins-Eagles? Bucs-Panthers? Chiefs-Raiders? There are some other games this week, some of them probably more meaningful in the context of the season.

by brasilbear (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:42pm

One thing I have never understood is that a championship someone acquires more value because of who you beat to win it or get there. Let me get this stright. If the Colts lose on Monday night, but then win out, including the SB, it won't mean as much because they didn't beat NE?

What a load a bull.

by bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:47pm

This is why Simmons is a great fan, but neither a good analyst nor a good journalist. He's a weepy partisan hack. Eliminate the weepy part and he'd fit right in at FEMA or some other agency inside the beltway.

He can be funny, but more often annoying. How many Fredo Corleone jokes can we withstand per season? It's funny once, actually twice, but after that, pick on some other famous cinematic zero. At least Fredo, if Moe Green was telling the truth, was "banging cocktail waitresses two at a time." Pretty impressive. Neither Mikey Corleone (as Fredo called him) nor Simmons nor I have pulled off that feat.

Just how the heck did he do that? No, no, don't draw any diagrams. I'd rather not know.

You know what happens if the Colts win this game? Nothing. But The Pats will move to 4-4 and everyone can still claim that the 8-0 Colts have won only ONE game over a team with a winning record. Of all the Super Bowl champs, the 17-0 1972 Dolphins are the ones that faced the easiest (based on opponents' W/L records) in NFL history. How often does that come up? Never. If the Colts win it all this year (they won't run the table), how often will their opponents' records come up? I'm sure Simmons will trot it out a handful of times over the next couple seasons.

by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:52pm

Disclaimer: I will not be mentioning the upcoming battle between the two starting QBs for the Pats v. Colts Game. That is for the Patriots quaterback versus Colts quaterback thread only.

I am an advid Pats fan, have been since the glory days of Dick Macpherson and years prior. Needless to say, I tend to view my N.E. sports teams through a bias prizm. That said, I think Bill tries to be non-bias in this particular post, but comes of as a complete "homer" living on the West Coast. I enjoy reading his columns, and become dissapointed when he doesn't post one daily. But sometimes he can be a little too one-sided. Although, I feel the same way as he does, I'm sure the colts will actually win this game, but I have a hard time picking against the Pats because of the history. Good thing I don't gamble that often. I was also dissapointed that he didn't even mention the other games of the weekend.

by Bracey (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:57pm

Damn you people bitch about everything. If your pissed about Simmons ignoring the other games....you obviously haven't been reading him long because this is common. His basic premise is that he's going to pick the Pats to beat the Colts until they lose...and I don't blame him.

by admin :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:58pm

I will note that Bill picks Miami to upset Atlanta, an upset I like as well. Great run O with lousy run D goes on the road to face good run O with great run D. Also, nobody can pass. Tasty.

by DMP (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:23pm

To think that emotion, "swagger" or "hunger" alone wins this game is ludicrous, but to think that some players don't think and react to certain games differently is also ludicrous, since we are all human and subject to irrational doubts and fears when things just don't seem to go your way. The link is the Marcus Pollard's thoughts on his old team against the Patriots.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:25pm

"I will note that Bill picks Miami to upset Atlanta, an upset I like as well."

Maybe the weekly game discussion thread is a better place for this, but whatever. Is there anyone that reads this site that doesn't like Miami over Atlanta?

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:31pm

RE 14,16: If the game was in Atlanta, I'd pick Atlanta. I don't really see any difference between the Dolphins and the Jets. Is Gus Ferronte really any better Vinny? I know the Jets are missing thier center, but Miami's O-line isn't terribly impressive. But Atlanta isn't as good on the road as they are at home, so I'm picking Miami

by charles (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:32pm

i don't like miami over atlanta, something to do with gus frerotte playing, miami's suddenly suspect run d, and atlanta's knack to score random return tds (which are not scored in dvoa).

by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:38pm

Bill, if you're reading this, please emulate your basketball life and adopt another team as you adopted the Clippers. I know there's no LA team right now, but I reather enjoyed your articles on becoming a Clippers fan. Could you do the same thing and write as obsessively about the Chargers? Or the Niners? The Raiders?

Just askin...

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:45pm

Pawnking (#19 )--

A Patriots fan cannot adopt the Raiders (Just Whine Baby!) or the Chargers. Or any AFC team, really. The Niners have a shot. Email him -- you might get an amusing mailbag entry out of it.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:54pm

not to pull out the cliche-book, but the only way this pats teams beats this colts team is if peyton and company shoot themselves in the foot. or if an early snowstorm graces southern massachusetts

Exactly. The Patriots have no chance. They are going to be stomped. They will lose by 14 easy, maybe by 28. The Colts have a strong defense, no one can stop the running of Marshall Faulk....I mean Edgerrin James, and don't forget the accurate passing of Warner....I mean Manning. What playmakers do the Patriots have? Nope, their done, it's over, completely hopeless. They Patriots have been lucky to do as well as they have.

by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:10pm

He picks the Colts but much of the article is about how the Colts should win.

The Pats will win unless they don't!


by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:11pm

Another tedius exercise in Patriot worshipping by Simmons, who at least has the benefit of being out of the closet about it, as opposed to some other conspicuous members of the media (not you of course, Aaron). I don't mind the pick- to carry the Brett Favre versus the Packers analogy along, Favre continued losing to Dallas even after he had the better team, and it's entirely possible for the Colts to lose tonight. The pick is fine. The decision to ignore every other game on the schedule so Bill can wax rhapsodic about the ring ceremony, that doesn't sit so well for me.

I'm on record as saying this game means absolutely nothing. Win or lose, the Colts are going to be the #1 seed in the AFC, and nobody is beating them in their building in January. But I guess we can all hyperventilate about the game, just for the sheer fun of it all.

by Rodafowa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:29pm

It seems to me (and appreciate this comes from someone who's only seen the Colts play a couple of times this year) that Indianapolis have had the most problems dealing with opponents who commit to running the ball at them - see the Rams and Texans in the early going of both games.

Problem seems to be, of course, that New England have a banged-up o-line and not a single halfback left who's got full use of all of his limbs.

Be ironic (and not in an Alanis Morissette sense) if the Colts get the Patriot-shaped monkey off their back, then get shellacked by Denver in the playoffs, wouldn't it?

by David Mazzotta (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:31pm

Well, in Simmons defense, I don't think he ignored every other game just so he could focus on the Pats. He had just written a fabulous two part preview of the upcoming NBA season (Simmons is an NBA fan above all else) and probably just didn't have the juice leftover for a full accounting of the games.

I don't know if I agree with his pick, but I think he has the zeitgeist about this game right. There is no reason why the Indiana shouldn't win handily, and yet I would still quiver uncontrollably at the thought of having money on the Colts.

by OMO (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:38pm


Another hyperbole-ridden, I've never played the game, Bill "crawl up the collective colon of the Pats/Red Sox organizations and snuggle" Simmons puff piece.

You know...I can't really be ticked with Simmons...he knows his demographic and he caters to it...but last time I checked...isn't ESPN at least supposed to try to cover sports not in NYC or Boston?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:43pm

If the Colts can't win the game Monday night, they don't deserve to ever beat the Patriots. I've been a Pats fan since 1976, am going to the game (which means parting with a good amount of hard-earned cash and not getting to bed until 3am given how long it takes to get out of the lots), and I still expect the Colts to have an easy win:
* The rumblings in the press are that Seymour still won't be able to play. Bye-bye any hope of a pass rush.
* It's looking more like Dillon and Pass will be out. Can re-signing Mike Cloud be anything other than an act of "my god, we need to have at least one theoretical running back" desperation?
* To sign Cloud, they cut safety Arturo Freeman. Ought to be interesting to see who plays alongside Wilson.

So let's see -- the Pats will have no running game, will have no pass rush, and won't be able to blitz because there's no way their secondary will be able to cover the Indy receivers one-on-one.

I never bought into any of the hype the past two playoff seasons of how the Patriots had no chance against the Colts, because the facts of how the team was playing didn't support the hype. But it's different now -- the Pats D is clearly and unrefutably much degraded. Now add two rookies on the left side of the OL and that the starting RB will likely be someone signed a couple of days before the game...

The most likely result is a Colts win by at least two touchdowns (something remiscent of the San Diego debacle). The only way I can see the Pats winning this game is in a shootout. Now, from what we saw from STL before Bulger went down, the Pats certainly could win in a firefight, but, sad to say, it's not likely.

Hey -- I fervently hope I'm wrong, but it's hard to ignore reality.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:51pm

Bill Simmons is a great read, and I've been reading every article for years. It seems like he mailed this one in - after a pretty long NBA Preview and a surprisingly emotional account of his take on Theo Epstein leaving the Red Sox, I can cut him some slack. Still, I don't understand why this was linked on FO except to drive up the flamewar quotient.

by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:02pm

Any bets on Belichick leaving the sprinklers on to mess with the footing? How about letting the grass grow long?

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:29pm


We hear the whining about the 1972 Dolphin schedule every time someone ranks the SB winners, and has to justify not putting the only team to win EVERY GAME THEY PLAYED on the top of the list.

You usually also hear about it when someone writes their annual "I'm PO'd about Buoniconti and friends and their champagne stunt" column.

Should Indy win out, they'll have beaten NE, Seattle, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Cincy and Jax (again). They'll get the respect they earn.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:36pm

Wow, there is a lot of animosity toward li'l Billy here today. He writes for Page 2, not the 'main page' of espn.com. It seems to me that his writing is for entertainment purposes only, not journalistic information dispersal. I don't think he has any responsibility to cover the rest of the games if he doesn't want to.

Furthermore, of course he's a Boston sports homer. You can type in www.bostonsportsguy.com and it redirects you to his espn page. He recently stated in a column that his dream as a sports writer was to cover a Boston team winning a championship. Unless you read this essay with no idea who Bill Simmons is beforehand, how can you possibly be angry about its contents?

I thought it was a pretty good column.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:36pm

The good news is that with the game being on Monday night and not Sunday night, there'll be one less guy in the booth to nuzzle Bruschi.

And I don't think Atlanta's a playoff team, but I don't see any Miami QB having any kind of success vs. the Atlanta defense. I almost took Miami, but had to reverse field.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:41pm

MCS (#29 )--

I'm pretty sure Belichick's plan is, to have a couple of pro soccer teams tear up the field the day before. (Earlier post with link to game-page has been disappeared.)

by BMF (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:53pm

Amen, noahpoah.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 7:12pm

It sure seems like the Colts should destroy the Pats, but the problem I have with that is the line. Colts -4 seems too good to be true, and when that happens, you go the other way. My pick is the Pats.

by ElAngelo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 7:47pm

That line's gotta be a function of a bunch of NE nimrods just blindly betting the Pats. A realistic line would be -6 1/2 or so.

by Tim Gerheim :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 8:23pm

He called it "Foxborough." Am I crazy, or is that the first time I've ever seen it written like that?

by Jeff F (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 8:28pm

As an avid Pats fan, I'd be putting my money down on the Colts at -8.

The Patriots only hope here is a major offensive shootout (With a carreer game from Branch, Givens, Brady, or some combination of the three) or injury-fest that handles one or two of the Colts' star players.

But, the Pats are just too injured to really do it, I think.

About the most comforting thing I can think of is Brady's performance in domes, but I don't think he's going to be undefeated in them any longer.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 8:28pm

Re: #37

Maybe you're crazy :), but it's written like that all the time. Especially in bylines in the birdcage floor covering known as the Boston Globe.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 8:29pm

Re: #38

Did they put a dome over Gillette when I wasn't looking?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 9:29pm

Did they put a dome over Gillette when I wasn’t looking?
Dang. Belichick's better than I thought.

by Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 9:48pm

Arturo Freeman isn't even on the team anymore.

Really though, is it that big a stretch for the Pats to win? If Seymour and Gay are back, they'll have the same starters on D as last year's playoff game minus Harrison. They'll be a home underdog at home. Its still Bill "I'm in Peyton's head" Bellichick. Is it really that big a stretch?

by Hank (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 10:23pm

Since Simmons didn't post his gambling quick hits: where do y'all go for gambling advice? Stats about the way the spread is behaving this season and in past years? Simmons doesn't do terribly well against the spread, and a lot of his analysis contains potential forces I don't believe exist, but every week he comes up with a great reason to copy a few of his picks. Eg. So and so is starting on the road, such and such injured player really matters, etc etc.

by masocc (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 2:30am

Re: #24 Actually Rodafowa, you *have* just given a classic example of Morrissettian irony.

by Sergio (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 2:34am

With regards to the Dolphins' '72 season - and I can't say this enough:

Yeah, easiest schedule. Whatever. They still beat Pittsburgh AT Pittsburgh at the AFC Championship...

That alone should nominate that team for sainthood. Or at least get them a cookie...

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 1:00pm

Hey, Jake, not to put too fine a point on the very fine point you have made, but Seymour was inactive in the playoff game against the Colts last year--out against the Steelers, too--in what turned out to be two of the most remarkable back-to-back playoff wins in NFL history.

by Led (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 2:41pm

"Simmons doesn’t do terribly well against the spread"

He's 61-53-1 this year. That's pretty darn good. Not sure about the results in past years. I'd assume not as good or Simmons would be working in Vegas, not for ESPN.com.

Simmons' homerism can be offputting at times, and he can go overboard with the pop culture schtick (I couldn't even get through his self-indulgent exchange with Chuck Whatshisname), but the guy is incredibly knowledgeable about a wide range of sports. I can't think of another national writer that has as deep a knowledge about NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and boxing. Not to mention pro wrestling and Play Station.

And re: #28, I'm pretty sure FO linked to this column in response to popular demand to link to Simmons' NFL picks each week. This week, Simmons just happened to bury his picks in one his unfortunate Patriot gush pieces.

by Hank (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:07pm

Re: 47

I'm speaking of past years.

by 2 cents (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 4:48am

I think Simmons passonately loves his teams and thats his prerogative. The article missed the point I would say. The point being, its not about the Pats. Its about the Colts! Its has always been about the Colts - since being stopped on the final drive in Indi 2 years ago.

This time, if inspite of everything pointing to a Colts win on paper, if after being so remarkably injury free while facing a team with perhaps the most significant injuries, playing at a time when the weather isnt that terribly uncomfortable to a dome team playing outside, after repeatedly marking this team out on their calenders:


1. Dungy will never reach that pinnacle of coaching greatness, as accomplished a man he is. Becomes a part of Marty, Cowher, Dan Reeves club.
2. Ditto Manning. Joins the Marino, Karl Malone club.

If Pats win, the only team that stands in their way to a 4th title:
Broncos, especially if Broncos end up as a higher seed.

Iam not a Broncos fan, but I have a lot of respect for them this year. In the playoffs I would pick them to beat ANY team in Denver.

by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 9:55am

"He’s 61-53-1 this year. That’s pretty darn good."

Not really. That's about the break-even point. Don't forget that the house takes a cut.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 10:54am

MDS (#50 )--

You only worry about the house cut, if you actually track the amounts bet on each game. Since Simmons is only betting his reputation as an ESPN columnist, the 10% house take of zero is zero. :-)

You want to see a columnist who keeps track of amounts wagered, try the San Francisco Chronicle's "Betting Fool." He starts the season with a bankroll of 1000 "simoleans," and bets different amounts on various college and pro games throughout the season. (Unlike Simmons, he doesn't bet every game. I think he also doen't account for the vigourish.)

The past two seasons, the Fool has lived up to his moniker by losing his entire bankroll. Still entertaining to read if you like that sort of thing.

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 11:21am

Two quotes from this morning's Boston Globe:

'''They run the ball more because they believe 21 points wins it for them now,' said an NFC defensive coach who has faced the Colts. ''In the past, 35 points was usually necessary for them to win. Now that pressure is off Manning.'"--Ron Borges

"Yet, looking at it objectively, Manning has never had the support of a great defense that Brady has had. Any great quarterback will tell you how difficult it is to have to put up 35-40 points to win week after week."--Nick Cafardo.

Of course, the mythology crumbles once you look at the score of last year's playoff game and realize that, yep, 21 points would have done it for Manning all right, even without Brady's defense.

by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:00pm

Starshatterer, thanks for the link. I like that approach to making picks. It's a lot more useful than just picking every game against the spread.

Dan Riley, are you suggesting that the Colts have had a better defense than the Patriots the last four years? Obviously, you're right that it's ridiculous to say the Colts needed 35-40 points a game to win last year, since they went 12-4 while averaging less than 35 points, but if you think the Colts' defense has been as good as the Patriots', well, I guess we're all entitled to our own opinions.

by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:31pm

No, I don't think the Colts defense was as good as the Pats. But I don't think, and I believe you guys can back me up on this, that he needed to put up 35-40 points to get to the Super Bowl in either of the last two years. The idea that Manning was weighed down by his defense is just nonsense. He easily got to the title game with that defense, and that defense played well enough for him to win either playoff game against the Pats if he and his offense had come through.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 3:53pm

Dan -- why did I know those quotes were from Borges and Cafardo without even having to wait to see what the names were? :)