Kudos to the New England Patriots who, despite losing all-universe quarterback Tom Brady 7 minutes into the season and a number of other key starters over the course of the season, still finished with a sterling record of 11-5. Matt Cassel stepped up along with the rest of the team, Bill Belichick and his coaching staff stepped it up a notch, and the Pats finished the season as perhaps one of the top 4 teams in the league.
Sadly, 11-5 wasn't quite good enough to make the playoffs in the face of the resurrected Dolphins (1-15 to 12-4 in one season? Are you kidding me?) and a pathetic New York Jets team that rolled over and died in the final weeks of the season, led into ignominy by Brett Favre (2 TDs, 9 INTs in the final 5 games). It's just too bad that the playoff setup allows an awful team like the 8-8 San Diego Chargers (assuming they hold their 38-13 lead over Denver) to get into the post-season simply because they happen to play in a miserable division.
Regardless, well done Patriots! You deserved (and earned) better. See you next season!