In today’s AFC championship game, I’m picking the New England Patriots to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, earning a spot in the Super Bowl.

Enough of you read that and said to yourself, or maybe out loud, “He just jinxed the Patriots.”

Please, stop it. Just stop it.

As fans, we sometimes take our superstitions more seriously than we take our favorite teams. We scramble to find a reason when our team loses a big game. They were outplayed? Couldn’t be, they’re the best team ever. Too many people picked them to win? Makes more sense, right?

I have friends who implore me on Twitter, please, please, please do not pick the Patriots. Yeah, it’s meant in part in fun, but there’s still the underlying sentiment. Maybe you’ll be less disappointed if they lose and you didn’t pick them.

Again, I say, please stop it. Just stop it.

The Patriots care not that you, me or your dog thinks they’re going to win today’s game. The Patriots think they’re going to win the game, too.

Ray Lewis and Ed Reed aren’t exchanging vigorous high fives today, convinced they’ve got the game in the bag because enough sports pundits picked the Patriots.

If New England’s defense can’t at least slow down Baltimore running back Ray Rice a little, or turn third downs into turnstiles as it did early in the season, the Patriots could lose. If the Ravens defense consistently gets in Tom Brady’s face, giving him no time to find open receivers, the Patriots could lose.

We must know our superstitions are bunk, but we cling to them anyway, like a security blanket. Sometimes, we cling too tightly, as proven recently by one distraught fan.

A hysterical Green Bay Packers fan was all over the internet last week. She blubbered about the Packers 37-20 loss to the New York Giants. Evidently, she thinks the Packers lost because she wore a Clay Matthews jersey instead of Aaron Rodgers. She also whimpered something about sparkles, but I couldn’t make it out. Not that I tried very hard.

I guarantee you, somebody out there blames himself for the Boston Red Sox’ September collapse because he said in late August, “The playoffs are a lock.” I guarantee you, somebody out there takes a little credit for the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup victory, because he wore his old, faded and torn Cam Neely T-shirt on the day of Game 7.

I said somebody. Make that somebodies. Probably enough of them out there to fill a large high school gym. That’s kind of sad, really. Not that the athletes don’t fall into this trap, too. Many eat the same meal every game day. In 2002, Wayne Gretzky hid a Canadian loonie coin in the ice at the Salt Lake City Olympic rink, and don’t forget Bruin Nathan Horton pouring a bottle of what was TD Garden ice onto the Vancouver sheet prior to Game 7. You know, for luck.

You can find a group for just about everything on Facebook, including The Sporting Anti-Jinx Page. See, when one of your knucklehead buddies accidentally wears the wrong color socks, or sits on the wrong side of the couch, you can post to the this page, and rest with the knowledge that you’ve averted disaster for your favorite team.

But you haven’t. You’ve just written your team a phoney baloney excuse if it fails. Today, I don’t think the Patriots will fail. I see a New England offense with too many weapons for a good Baltimore defense to stop. I see a Baltimore offense ill-equipped for a shootout.

If the Patriots lose today (and I say they leave Gillette Stadium with a 30-20 win), it won’t be because I, or anybody else, picked them to win. It won’t be because somebody wore a Rob Gronkowski jersey when it was obvious the football gods demanded a Brady jersey, preferably the red throwback one the teams wears once a season.

Travis Lazarczyk – 861-9242

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