Brett Favre and Chad Pennington Suck
Twice since the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, they have missed the playoffs.
Both times, it's because the Patriots were in a tie for the best record in the AFC East, but lost the tiebreaker when Brett Favre lost to Chad Pennington on the final day of the season, giving Pennington's team the division title instead.
On December 29, 2002, Favre's Packers made too many mistakes and wound up losing to Pennington's Jets. The Pats and Dolphins and Jets tied for first, but Pennington and the Jets won the tiebreakers, and won the AFC East title. The Patriots and Dolphins stayed home.
On December 28, 2008, Favre's Jets made too many mistakes and wound up losing to Pennington's Dolphins. The Pats and Dolphins tied for first, but Pennington and the Dolphins won the tiebreakers, and won the AFC East title. The Patriots stayed home.
So Patriots fans forever will hate Brett Favre. And it's not because he beat the Pats in Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. No, he won that one straight up, with a little help from Desmond Howard. It's because he let Chadley Pennington win twice, and in doing so kept us out of the playoffs twice.
In 2002, the 12-3 Packers had no business losing to the 8-7 Jets, but on the other hand, the 9-7 Patriots, with a battered defense that couldn't stop the run, didn't have much to complain about in not going to the playoffs.
In 2008, the Jets were rolling, but they just ... stopped. They couldn't even beat the Niners or Seahawks. But playing for a potential playoff spot, I figured they would finally pull it together and win the last game. They didn't. And the Patriots became only the second 11-5 team in history to not make the playoffs.
I don't know what can, or should, be done about it. It's terrible to have an 11-5 team sit home for the playoffs. It's not good for the league. But I can think of no solution to the problem.