You know football is coming when teams start sending out packages to season-ticket holders.
And you know you're a Patriots fan if the block of tickets received in the mail is a little fatter than what fans of less prodigious franchises receive.
Yes, the Patriots aren't even going to imagine a world where they miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade. The Pats also presuppose that an eighth consecutive first-round bye is a mere formality. The package does not include tickets to a Wild Card round home affair.
The Pats have a "pay as you go" option that allows season-ticket holders to lock themselves into playoff tickets automatically. New England simply took the extra step of sending the physical tickets to fans who chose this option. The Raiders, who haven't won a Super Bowl in 34 years, did the same thing.
If the Pats don't host a game in the divisional round or AFC title game (ha!), the tickets simply become artifacts that will confuse historians in 100 years. But let's be honest here: Pats fans will totally be using these things.