By Brian Cullen

All right, team, this is important. Sit down, and shut up. Now we’re — DAVIDSON! I SAID SHUT UP! SIT YOUR ASS DOWN! YOU’RE IN MY WORLD NOW.

Are we all good? Good. Because this might be the most important speech you hear all season.

Since week 1, we’ve bled together as tailgaters. We’ve braved freezing cold, blistering heat and everything in between to ensure that our friends and our families, that we have a game day experience for the ages.

Well guess what? It’s playoff time. Twenty-four teams are sitting on their couches at home, wondering what might have been. Their fans probably aren’t even watching. Their season is over. They won’t be tasting any tailgate bratwursts for another nine months.

What’s left? Only eight teams. After this weekend, four. And then, the Big Enchilada. The takeaway here, ladies and gentlemen, is that, at this point in the season, every game day could be your last. So your job is to savor it, and not take it for granted. Drink that daytime beer without fear of social repercussion. Go on — have another burger, while there’s still time.

Today we’re going to review some game tape for a few of the teams still standing, and learn some DOs and DON’Ts for how to suck every last bit of joy out of your 2012 tailgating season. Pay attention, people: the lessons you learn today could be the difference between a playoff run to remember and an off-season to forget.

New England fans have a reputation for being completely effing insane. Let’s go to the tape to see what we can learn about our final tailgates.

DO: Eat as much meat as you can. For one thing, you don’t want to see any food go to waste. That’s disrespectful of the farmland animals that gave up the ghost for your tailgate, man. But more importantly, if you’re going to make every second count, you’ll want to make your meat consumption as efficient as possible. At around the 00:34 mark, our host, Nick Stevens, passes right over a meat thing wrapped in bacon in favor of a singular lamb stick. Now, in fairness, this was filmed during the regular season, so the steaks stakes weren’t quite as high. Come playoff time? Grab the bacon.

Photo Credit: CBS Local

Photo Credit: CBS Local

DON’T: Make weiner jokes about the meat. Now, everyone likes a good “just the tip” gag, but by the playoffs? Those jokes have been played out since week 5. The challenge of any good tailgate banterer is to keep coming up with fresh, new angles week after week, unlike that one hack tailgate writer that keeps ragging on Cleveland again and again and again.

DO: Try the local delicacies. Did you see that pumpkin soup? That’s almost offensively New England. I’m not sure you can eat that unless you drink some cider, fondly remember the Hartford Whalers and rock your favorite Dave Matthews t-shirt.

DON’T: Come to the game without plans. In the video above, these two fellas showed up to a tailgate with nothing to show for it except a sixer of Killian’s between the two of them. And while this kind of bullspit might have a certain hobo charm during the regular season — you don’t want to risk ending your 2012-2013 campaign like this. It’s sad and unbecoming.

Photo Credit: CBS Local

Photo Credit: CBS Local

DO: Get your hands on some chowder. After all, it’s New England, it’s one of their staples.

DON’T: Chug chowder, you gross idiot. Did you see those two guys plowing through that stuff? I say this without exaggeration — that literally made me feel queasy. Now, don’t get me wrong. I dig a good chowder. But all I can think about is how much that looks like someone doing the milk challenge, except it’s hot and seafood is involved. And to me, that leads to tossing your cookies.

So don’t ruin your playoff tailgate with hot seafood vomit. Enjoy your chowder with a spoon like a grown up human being.

Photo Credit: CBS Local

Photo Credit: CBS Local

DO: Learn to open a bottle of beer with your ring. This will save time, and actually give your sham of a wedding band some real inherent value. Worst case scenario, you can always claim it as a bottle opener in your alimony proceedings.

DON’T: Fry up fish and chips without proper training. I’m no expert at avoiding getting set on fire (there was an unfortunate incident in Whistler Village one time around ‘02), but I’m pretty sure working with a deep fryer can land you in hot water — or hot oil — if you’re not careful.

Got that so far, team? Those are some important lessons. Tailgate Fan checks in tomorrow with Denver to see what we can learn from the Mile High fanatics. On Friday, it’s on to San Francisco.

Read more about the tailgating fan.

Stop in at the Man Cave Daily, where the women are hot and the beer is cold.

Brian Cullen will be pulling for the Patriots, no matter how much their team resembles the football Spurs. Follow him on Twitter @bucketcullen.

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