Despite being the Wednesday before the AFC Championship game, articles are surprisingly few in the papers today. I expect that to change over the next couple days, but for now, it’s the calm before the storm…in print anyway. Some of the articles below are from yesterday’s afternoon papers. Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider has legendary Steelers coach talking favorably about the current Patriots. Apparently unable as of yet to get a hold of Curt Schilling, (he promised in his mailbag he was going to pursue the Schilling as a Steelers fan angle this week) Nick Cafardo settles for another of his favorite topics, field conditions. He looks at whether Heinz field will cause problems for the Patriots or not. Alan Greenberg looks at the Patriots being installed as three point favorites despite playing on the road against the 16-1 Steelers. Chris Kennedy looks at the decided lack of trash talk between the teams thus far. Mike Reiss looks at what is likely the key to the game for the Patriots – stopping the run.
Dan Shaughnessy writes a nice piece today on the premise that the Patriots have proven themselves to be a model organization, one that even youth coaches want to emulate. Jonathan Comey looks at what many people perceive to be the edge that puts the Patriots over the top – Belichick. Michael Parente writes that Sunday will be the Patriots toughest and most physical challenge of the season. Karen Guregian says that all of a sudden the prospect of a future without Ty Law doesn’t seem all that daunting to the Patriots and their fans, thanks to the emergence of Randall Gay and Asante Samuel. Jim Donaldson looks at the impact that former UMass coach Mark Whipple has had on Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger as his position coach. Rich Thompson has a look at Rosevelt Colvin, who is happy to have a role in this playoff run, even if it is still limited due to the lingering effects of his injury. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots aren’t getting ahead of themselves this week. Hector Longo has a look at the Patriots unsung heroes coming through again. Michael Felger looks at how Jarvis Green helped to fill the void left by the absence of Richard Seymour on Sunday. Cafardo’s notebook has the 49ers calling the team for advice on building an organization – who would’ve imagined that would ever be case 15 years ago. Parente’s notebook looks at the Patriots role as favorites this weekend.
Dennis and Callahan had Mark Schlereth from ESPN on this morning to discuss his prediction that Tom Brady was going to choke against the Colts. Schlereth good naturedly ate crow and even took at couple calls from Patriots fans. However, it doesn’t really take away from the fact that his prediction was admittedly based on nothing more than feeling that the numbers had to “catch up” with Brady sooner or later. In contrast to last week’s media fascination with the “unstoppable” Colts offense, this week the trend seems to have swung too far in the opposite direction, something the media is prone to do. It seems the majority of the “experts” are now picking the Patriots, and seemingly ignoring the Steelers, all based on one game. Still no real insightful analysis to be found for the most part.
From the Steel City
Ed Bouchette looks at Jerome Bettis, who made many sacrifices to remain with the Steelers this season and get a shot at the Super Bowl which has eluded him thus far in his career. Jerry DiPaola has Merril Hoge saying that the Steelers are more physical than the Patriots and that that is something that Bill Belichick can’t scheme for. Chuck Finder looks at how the Patriot players have bought into the coaching of Belichick and his staff. Joe Starkey looks at how these are the glory days for New England sports fans. He also looks at Pittsburgh native Scott Zolak, who is enjoying his life in the Boston area. Bouchette’s notebook says the weather will be cold on Sunday. DiPaola’s notebook looks at the short Steelers’ injury report and that Bettis will likely get the start on Sunday. Finder’s Patriots notebook looks at Josh Miller’s return to the Steel City.
Steve Bulpett looks at how Raef LaFrentz is thrilled to have been healthy this season and able to contribute to the club. Mike Fine looks at how Doc Rivers and the Celtics have been attempting to learn from the Patriots. Shira Springer looks at the improvement in the Chicago Bulls, who have won seven in a row and hit the FleetCenter tonight. Bulpett’s notebook says Paul Pierce hasn’t seen the need to talk to Ricky Davis about the incident in practice from Sunday.
Who’s on First
Chris Snow gives some good analysis on what is probably the last major decision the Red Sox have to make this offseason – who to keep, Kevin Millar or Doug Mientkiewicz. Gordon Edes looks at Roger Clemens asking for 22 Million dollars in arbitration from the Astros. Jeff Horrigan, David Heuschkel and Snow look at Bronson Arroyo and Mark Bellhorn.
Russ Conway looks at today’s last ditch effort to save the NHL season.
FSN has Celtics/Bulls at 7:00. ESPN has Duke/Miami at 8:30 and Timberwolves/Lakers at 10:30. ESPN2 has Charlotte/Cincinnati at 7:00.