TThe top 4 watched games of the year were all Patriot games:
Highest rated NFL games in '07.
20.1: Patriots/Colts (11/4/07, 4:15 PM CBS)
19.1: Patriots/Giants (12/29/07, 8 PM NFL Network, CBS, NBC)
18.4: Patriots/Steelers (12/2/07, 4:15 PM CBS)
18.0: Patriots/Cowboys (10/14/07, 4:15 PM CBS)
Now listen, I am not one to typically buy into the idea of a conspiracy theory. I used to work with a guy who thought every game, every race, every sporting event imaginable was fixed in one way or another. Some of you may think he has a point, but I tend to trust the integrity of the leagues, and most importantly the players themselves. In this case, however, I believe the ratings for the AFC Championship game would be so astronomically effected if the Pats were upset this weekend, that I wouldn't be surprised if there were some shady calls being made during the game Saturday night.
Consider what is on the line for the NFL and CBS:
Colts @ Pats - would easily become the most watched game of the year!
Chargers @ Pats - still strong ratings, but slightly off what could have been
Jags @ Colts - starting to lose interest already
Worst cast scenario:
Jags @ Chargers - who cares
If the Pats make it to the Super Bowl at 18-0, and they are playing anybody but Seattle - it should be the most watched Super Bowl, perhaps ever.
Officials have the power to directly control the outcome of the game, and based on what recently happened in the NBA, we have to believe that no game is safe from the possibility of a "fix". Plus, they can always fall back on the "we're just human" excuse.
So the question remains... would the NFL really encourage the officials to make calls in favor of the Pats and Colts? I honestly doubt it... but with all that money on the line, could you possibly blame them?
Here's hoping for a clean game with no questions for concern come Sunday and Monday morning.
Enjoy the games!