Mike Reiss assembles a team of five NFL coordinators who have game planned for both the Patriots and Jets to analyze this Sunday’s matchup between the clubs. Michael Felger reluctantly turns his attention away from the coaches handshake and onto the field, where he examines some keys to the game this weekend. Some pretty solid analysis in here as well, however, he concludes the piece by rehashing Bill Belichick’s history with the Jets and blaming Belichick for bringing all the media hype surrounding this game and matchup with Eric Mangini on himself. Eric McHugh has more on the grudge match between these two teams and examines some tangible factors that might impact this game on the field.
Jennifer Toland says that this game has all the makings of a daytime soap opera. Dan Pires says that the Pats/Jets rivalry, coupled with all the new subplots have really ratcheted this wildcard playoff game to a whole new level. Michael Parente observes that like the Patriots, the Jets have played their best football in December. Glen Farley has more on the Patriots/Jets rivalry heating up.
Tom King examines this edition of the Patriots as compared to previous editions, and notes that while the ’06 Patriots aren’t as good as the ’03 and ’04 clubs, neither is the competition. Christopher L Gasper notes that the Jets really took off after their 17-14 win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. That game was the turning point of the season for New York, and the point at which they became a team. Joe McDonald has a look at receiver Reche Caldwell, who has become Tom Brady’s favorite target, and put up by far the best season of his career. Caldwell is now looking forward to getting a chance to play in the playoffs. Alan Greenberg looks at Rodney Harrison sitting this one out, and possibly missing the postseason altogether. Farley looks at the Giants’ reported interest in Scott Pioli.
Gerry Callahan composes an apology to “Rib Boy” Eric Mangini for having doubting his ability to succeed as a head coach in New York. He ends by nothing that no one believes the Jets can win this Sunday, but Mangini has spent all season proving the doubters wrong. Jim Donaldson claims that neither team or coach wanted this matchup. The Patriots would rather be playing the Broncos and the Jets would prefer to be in Indianapolis playing the Colts. Mark Farinella puts together some mostly Patriots related thoughts, including his disapproval of the Vinny Testaverde touchdown pass.
Check the stories from the Big Apple on the New York Sports Pages.
Reiss’ notebook has James Sanders eager and ready to step in for friend and teammate Rodney Harrison this Sunday. McDonald’s notebook looks at a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign for Chad Jackson. Parente’s notebook has more on the loss of Harrison. McHugh’s notebook observes that holiday injuries are becoming a tradition for the Patriots.
Shira Springer has the Celtics really trying hard to put a positive spin on their 1-4 West coast road trip. Steve Bulpett has more on the Celtics growing pains. Mike Petraglia looks at the Celtics attempting to adjust to life without Paul Pierce.
Stephen Harris says that it is time for the Bruins to make a trade and obtain some help. He doesn’t offer any suggestions, though, and acknowledges that the chances of making a big trade in the new NHL are “slim.” Fluto Shinzawa reports on Hannu Toivonen being sent down to Providence once again to try and regain his confidence.
Mark Blaudschun believes that the BCS deserves kudos for putting together a system that allowed the Boise St/Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl game to take place.
John Molori hands out his 2006 “Blitzy Awards” for the best and worst in the Boston sports media for the last year.
Jeff Horrigan reports on Jon Deeble being named manager of the Lowell Spinners. Deeble, an Australian, was a big part of the Red Sox pursuit of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Brian Fraga reports on the death of likely the oldest Red Sox fan out there, Kathryn Gemme, who passed away Friday at the age of 112.
FSN has Celtics/Cavs at 7:30. FOX has Notre Dame/LSU in the Sugar Bowl at 8:15. CN8 has Holy Cross/BU at 7:00. ESPN has Penn/UNC at 8:00. ESPN2 has Xavier/Kansas at 7:00 and Gonzaga/Virginia at 9:00.