The Patriots start the post season in unfamiliar territory…as favorites. Michael Felger looks at this new position for the team, which comes with increased expectations. The team however, continues to have tunnel vision in regards to their approach and goals. One person who does not consider them a favorite is Ron Borges. Writing for MSNBC, Borges picks the Titans as his choice to come out of the AFC. His reasoning?
Can the Patriots go all the way when their margin for error seems so slim? I think not. A Super Bowl title would put the Pats' winning streak at 15 games in a row, an unlikely occurence in any circumstance, but particularly so in this day of NFL parity.
That’s pretty much his entire argument. They can’t do it because it’s impossible to win 15 games in a row in the NFL. A specious argument at best. He says they struggled to beat Denver, and only beat the Titans because “Tennessee was not playing its best football yet.” Right. And the Patriots were? That victory over the Titans was following a loss to the lowly Redskins. It kicked off the current 12 game winning streak. Also, just when did the Titans play their best football? Was it in December, when they lost to the Jets and Colts, and then beat the Bills and Texans — by a combined five points? As for barely beating Denver, the Broncos were 6-2 at home this year. One of those losses was to the Patriots, who were without 2/3rds of their defensive line. Richard Seymour and Ted Washington both missed that game. Oh well. Like I said yesterday, I actually prefer the Borges approach. Disrespect the Patriots. They love that. I think I’ll also pull one of my all time favorite Nick Cafardo quotes out for reflection. This was obviously from the beginning of the season.
I don't think I've ever seen a team do so much to help a competing team within the division get so good so fast. The Bills were in ashes just two years ago. The trade to Buffalo of Bledsoe, sparked their offense. Their offseason moves to revamp their defense has worked well, and taking Milloy away from the Patriots has made them a worthy contender. We don't even know what Willis McGahee can do yet. It didn't take long thanks to a little help from the Patriots.
We still don’t know what Willis McGahee can do yet. Whatever it is, I just don’t think it is more than Travis Henry can do. Alright, back to the present. What? More from Nick. Just one more today. Enjoy.
Don't forget, Buffalo re-tooled there when Tom Donahoe came in. They got rid of a lot of expensive vets and brought in younger guys. They won three games. Then when they thought they had a chance to get back into it, they traded for Bledsoe, spent about $22 million of their cap dollars on defense, and got Lawyer Milloy as the cherry on top with about $3 million top spare. That's why I've always felt Donahoe is the best at what he does in the league.
What is it exactly that Donahoe does better than anyone else in the league? 17-31. That’s Buffalo’s record since Donahoe took over. Don’t try to say that he had to rebuild when he got there. If you make that argument you must also remove Belichick’s first year 5-11 mark with the Patriots and his early Cleveland years as well. Those were rebuilding projects. Before anyone gets upset at me here, I’m merely pointing out Nick’s record here. Sort of like he does whenever he trots out Belichick’s career record. Lest you think I’m just picking on one writer, I haven’t forgotten the borderline slanderous comments made by Kevin Mannix the week after the first Buffalo game either. Those will resurface at some point here as well. Am I picking on these guys merely because they were wrong in their assessments? No. We’re all wrong at times. It’s the smugness of these comments, along with a stubborn refusal to admit what has happened here which results in these quotes resurfacing. Yes, yes, back to the links, I promise.
Michael Smith says Bill Belichick is coach of the year, hands down. Tom Curran says we likely don’t have to worry about Scott Pioli going anywhere soon. Gerry Callahan has a pay column in which he says the Patriots have it all, motivation, preparation and home field. Eric McHugh gives us the best and worst of the 14-2 regular season. Jim Donaldson looks ahead to the playoffs, noting that the Patriots are a cut above whomever they have to go against. Nick Cafardo looks at Brian Billick and the Baltimore Ravens, who have made plans all the way to February 1st. Tom Curran has 10 quick questions with Troy Brown. Hey I had a Green Machine, too. Felger’s notebook looks at the interest in Crennel and Weis, and Smith’s notebook also carries that theme.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris have the details of the Bruins 3-1 win over the Capitals last night. Both the Globe and Herald notebooks focus on defenseman Shaone Morrisonn.
Celtics also got a win last night, by the score of 100-91 over the Golden State Warriors. Links are at Fox Sports Net New England.
Bob Hohler looks at the return of Brian Daubach to the Red Sox. Dan Shaughnessy has a “clearing out the desk drawer” column. On the subject of the Red Sox, one thing he says is
People in the A's front office think Keith Foulke made a mistake coming to Boston. Maybe that's sour grapes, but some fear he won't react well to the fallout that comes when a Sox closer blows a save against the Yankees. It takes a specific mentality (think Dennis Eckersley), and some of the A's believe Foulke is too sensitive. I tend to agree, but then again, I didn't think David Ortiz would help.
While I don’t like the Foulke assessment, I have to give Dan a smidgen of credit for the Ortiz comment. I don’t think others at his paper could make that kind of statement. (Can you imagine: “Then again, I thought Tom Donahoe was a genius.” Didn’t think so.)
Bill Griffith has a look at the Patriots playoff in Prime Time and a bunch of other assorted media notes. John Molori looks at Glenn Ordway’s new WEEI deal.