Who knew being the favorite

Who knew being the favorite could be so insufferable? Two years ago during the Super Bowl run as underdogs, all talk on the airwaves was how the Patriots could win these games…what could they do to pull the upset? After a day plus of sports radio and TV discussions, I see that this year’s theme is different. Now the majority of the talk on the local airwaves is how the Patriots can/will lose this game and what the Titans can/will do to beat them. It was definitely more fun to be the underdog. Maybe we’re just not used to being favorites.

Yesterday Bob Neumeier said the Titans have no weaknesses. Today Gerry Callahan, (and Meter of course) says the Titans have the mental and physical toughness and great coaching to come into Gillette and whip the Patriots.

Maybe this will make people feel better. (Thanks Mark)

Against the spread this year New England is:
10-1 after consecutive wins
10-2 against the AFC
9-1 as a favorite
14-2 overall
13-1 on grass fields
8-0 at home
5-1 off a division game
7-0 when playing a team with a winning record.

No one knows what is going to happen Saturday night, but most people seem to agree that it will not be a repeat of the high scoring affair that happened earlier in the season at Gillette. Michael Smith says the game won’t be a replay, but one thing you can count on is Steve McNair and Eddie George playing. Tom Curran says the score if likely to be much lower in this contest. The Titans went up and down the field against the Patriots like no other team has this year. Plus, the Titans defense was injured that game and has been shored up since. Rich Thompson notes that Bill Belichick can’t help but be impressed with the toughness and effort of George and McNair. Lenny Megliola says to Belichick, every team he prepares for is the ’72 Dolphins. Alan Greenberg says that Belichick lost a battle with the NFL over a turf at Gillette. Mike Reiss has a mini-feature on Tedy Bruschi, and speaks to his brother, college coordinator, and Tedy himself to learn how much Bruschi loves football, and that New England is his home. Dan Shaughnessy says unlike baseball, history doesn’t mean anything in football. Michael Holley looks at the Titans 44 year old kicker, Gary Anderson, who made his first Pro Bowl in 1983. Smith’s notebook has the “Michael Vick of groundskeepers”, Dennis Brolin saying that the new turf will actually be an advantage to the Patriots. Thompson’s notebook looks at All Pro honors for Rodney Harrison, Ty Law and Richard Seymour. Curran’s notebook has more on the turf.

Bob Hohler and Jeff Horrigan look at a nervous Dennis Eckersley as he prepares for the 2004 Hall of Fame election results today. A former crony of Pete Rose tells Jack Sullivan that the former baseball star still isn’t telling the whole story about his betting on baseball. Mike Port says that when he interviewed for the Reds GM job recently, he was asked about Rose. Jon Couture wonders if anyone cares that Pete Rose supposedly came clean.

The Celtics shot a dreadful 29% last night in a 78-68 loss to the Piston. Links are at Fox Sports New New England.

Coach Mike Sullivan put his team through a double session at practice yesterday. Steve Conroy and Nancy Marrapese-Burrell update us on the reasons for the elongated session. Mick Colageo wonders if Patrice Bergeron could become another Joe Thornton. Conroy’s notebook gives us an update on the injury to Shaone Morrisonn.

Bill Griffith looks at the buildup to this Saturday’s Patriots/Titans playoff game.

Bob Ryan says the Sugar Bowl victory was sweet for Nick Saban, even if it didn’t appear that way.

ESPN and ESPN2 have college hoops tonight.


So just who is Ron

So just who is Ron Borges picking to come out of the AFC? Well, he seems to be all over the board.

12/29/03 (MSNBC):

Although the Patriots will be the favorite to win the AFC title, it says here that it will be the Titans or the Colts who survive the long march to Houston. Since I can only have one pick, let's go with the Titans as they are the most playoff-hardened team in the AFC.

1/1/04 (MSNBC):

When it comes playoffs, beware of the Broncos. No team

The Titans it is. Be

The Titans it is. Be prepared for plenty of talk this week about how tough the Titans are, how Steve McNair is a “warrior” and how this team will not be intimidated coming into Gillette. Michael Smith looks ahead to a tough game for the Pats. Kevin Mannix looks back at the first Titans game and how that was a turning point in the season for the Patriots. Nick Cafardo says it is time the Titans stepped up and won a big one, otherwise, “they could go down as one of the greatest close-but-no-cigar teams of all time.” Alan Greenberg says the Patriots will have their hands full with a highly motivated Titans team. Ian M. Clark says that the first Titans game just seems like ages ago. Chris Kennedy says the Patriots do not want their streak to end where it began. Michael Felger looks back at the highs and lows of the first Titans game. The ProJo says the Patriots have the pieces in place to build a dynasty. Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots by the numbers, 1-31. Jonathan Comey says that seeds and past history will have no bearing on the game Saturday night. Felger’s notebook looks at the new turf being installed at Gillette. Cafardo’s notebook says that Charlie Weis has seen his stock rise in Buffalo after his interview on Friday.

Ron Borges and Steve Buckley report on the Colts running all over the Broncos yesterday. Borges’ notebook looks at the change made by Tony Dungy on the offensive line to counter the rush of Denver’s Trevor Pryce. Buckley also looks at the end to Peyton Manning’s postseason jinx.

Bob Ryan looks back at LSU’s 21-14 win over Oklahoma last night in the BCS championship game. Mark Blaudschun says that LSU was impressive in claiming half of the National Championship.

Are the Bruins ready to shake out of their slump? Well, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris note encouraging signs in the recent play of the club. Russ Conway says the mystique of the “Original 6” is long gone in the NHL.

Celtics take on Detroit tonight, links from today and the weekend can be found at Fox Sports Net New England.

Norman Chad has 23 thoughts on Sports on TV.

Worst quote of the weekend, in a weekend full of awful ones. Chris Berman, prior to the Panthers/Cowboys game Saturday night. There was a segment detailing Panthers linebacker Mark Fields and coach Sam Mills and how they’ve both been diagnosed with cancer during the season. Berman spouted that both were devoting their lives to the “battle against beating cancer”. We know what he was trying to say, but still…

FSNNE has Celtics/Pistons at 7:00. ESPN has college hoops with Texas/Providence at 7:00 and Kansas/Colorado at 9:00. ESPN2 has Wild/Blues at 8:00.

Sunday Links from Len. The

Sunday Links from Len.

The NFL has taken center stage even in Boston with weekends full of football. Tennessee had lost five straight to the Ravens. But last night, the Titans won 20-17 on a late field goal by Gary Anderson. Paul Kuharsky believes the left ankle and right calf injuries had some effect in limiting the performance of MVP Steve McNair. Kuharsky also has the story on another injured Titan, Eddie George, who ran for 88 yards against the vaunted Ravens defense. Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun believes the Titans exposed the Ravens. It

Alan Greenberg and Dan Pires

Alan Greenberg and Dan Pires look at Rosevelt Colvin and how his rehab is going these days. Colvin is forced to be content fulfilling his competitive juices by beating up on his teammates at dominoes. Tom Curran looks at how Bill Belichick is coaching differently this season than he did back in 2001. Michael Felger has his Patriots Insider today, and he compares the 2003 Patriots with the 2001 edition. Towards the end he does make an error when stating that “Vince Lombardi married Matilda Izzo in 1912.” He’s making the connection that Larry Izzo is related to Lombardi. He is related, but to Lombardi’s mother, not his wife. Vince Lombardi was born in 1913. Michael Smith has a look at Eugene Wilson, who calls not only an impact player, but a great player…making those around him better. Rich Thompson has a look at Roman Phifer, ready to begin only the second playoffs of his 13 year career. Christopher Price queries veterans on what the rookies can expect in the post season. Nick Cafardo is raving about the Ravens. Ian M. Clark says the Patriots are not taking the playoffs for granted. Karen Guregian looks at how Bob Kraft has become the idea NFL owner. Frank Dell’Apa reports on how Patriot reserves Matt Chatham and Larry Izzo have a huge role in the success of the team. Bob Ryan examines the failure of the Steve Spurrier experiment in Washington. Thompson also has a look at Antowain Smith, hoping to revitalize the running game for the postseason.

Maybe a new year means a fresh start for the Bruins? Stephen Harris and Nancy Marrapese-Burrell look at a rare home win for the Bruins, over a top NHL team in the Maple Leafs. Steve Conroy looks at Felix Potvin’s first victory at the FleetCenter as a member of the Bruins. Chris Forsberg, Joe Haggerty and Conroy look at Shaone Morrisonn getting his first NHL goal. Harris’ notebook looks at a demotion for Rob Zamuner. The Globe notebook also looks at the demotion.

Celtics links are at Fox Sports Net New England.

Pete Carroll is jacked and pumped. Maybe feeling a little dangerous right now, too. Mark Blaudschun says USC is number one, no matter what the BCS says.

FSNNE has Celtics/Pacers at 7:30.

Another item of interest today

Another item of interest today is over at Football Outsiders. Aaron Schatz, with a little input from myself put together in interview with the Providence Journal’s Tom Curran, who talks about not only the Patriots, but the effect of the internet on sports media and what the future might hold for all entities involved.

For Bruins fans, there is an interesting thread on the Bruins message board over at HFBoards. It is entitled “Media accountability” and Kevin Paul Dupont and Dale Arnold are among the participants in the thread. Dupont expresses frustration in trying to keep readers interested in a team that has been doing pretty much the same things for 25 years:

for the first time in, what, 30 (THIRTY!!) years, I got Jacobs last week to address the disarray of his franchise. Now we get to see what follows. Isn't that more important than me, Bob Ryan, Dan Shaughnessy, (fill in the blank) writing some lame open letter to Jacobs. Hell, he owns the team, let's see what he does (many more stories to follow, some he may even participate in).

I'll also remind those who might have seen it, I spent upwards of 2000 words on this very subject, devoting the entire Sunday notebook to it, the Sunday following their demise to the Devs this past April. I also did it when they finished dead last in spring of '97--with poignant quotes from guys like Middleton, Lemelin, et al. From a writing standpoint, it gets a little redundant.

Believe me, I know the frustration. Try spending 25-plus years at it, looking for ways to keep people interested, put a new spin on it, stay fresh, entertaining and informative (crying face here).

Later in the thread, Arnold weighs in, and counters those who may feel he is just a Bruins employee and will not criticize them.

I have criticized the Bruins for everything from coach firings (see Sutter, Bowness, Burns) to coach hirings (see Keenan, Kasper). I have criticized them for poor to awful drafting (see Evgeny Ryabchikov) to poor to awful free agent signings (see Coffey). Never once --- I repeat for emphasis --- never once, has anyone from the Bruins ever tried to stifle my opinions or questioned my right and duty to give them.

Dale goes on to say that he just doesn’t feel that his play-by-play gig on NESN is the proper place or time to debate the merits of Bruins ownership and management.

My job is to bring the game into the living rooms of people who would be there if they could, but for whatever reasons cannot. If you were at the game, you would not want me barking in your ear for a full sixty minutes about Jeremy Jacobs, Harry Sinden, Mike O'Connell, etc. You would want to watch the game.