Patriots on Saturday

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Huge game coming up: the Patriots, the only regular season 15-0 team in NFL history, is going for a perfect record, 16-0. There's other season records on the line too -- most TD passes by a QB, most TD receptions by a receiver, most points scored by a team, biggest cumulative point differential, longest consecutive winning streak, and so on.

This unprecedented game was scheduled to be seen only by about 40 percent of the normal NFL audience, because it is going to be on the NFL Network, which is only available via some satellite and cable providers. But tonight the NFL announced it would be simulcast on NBC and CBS, getting 100 percent nationwide coverage, and marking the first time since Super Bowl I that a game would be shown simultaneously on more than one U.S. network, and the first time ever to be shown on three.

Tom Brady jokingly said he wants the Giants starters to take the game off, since the game is meaningless for the playoffs. But as a longtime Patriots fan, I say no: sports is about rising to a challenge. That's why no one cared about The Dream Team after it won its first Olympics. The tougher the challenge, the greater the glory. There will be 11 other teams in the playoffs, and the Patriots will have played at least five of them (Cowboys, Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Giants; and maybe seven, if the Redskins win, and the Browns win/Titans lose).

Going 16-0 while beating a lot of top teams would be a great accomplishment, but if one of those top teams intentionally didn't play its best game, that would diminish it a bit, for many fans. Granted, it's already slightly diminished in that the combined wins by the rest of the Patriots' division is only 11, four less than the Patriots have won by themselves, and that accounts for six of the Pats' games. So the competitor in me really wants to see the Patriots play all the best teams en route to a perfect season, and, eventually, to another Super Bowl championship.

Bring it on, Coach Tom Coughlin. If the Patriots can't go 16-0 against the best you have to offer, then they don't deserve to get a perfect season.

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