The Patriots have begun their preparations in earnest for the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom they will face in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this coming Saturday night.

On sister site Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has a look at how the Patriots are dealing with the so-called playoff pressures. He also provides five things to look for in the battle with the Jaguars.

Christopher L. Gasper and Karen Guregian each have a look at Ellis Hobbs, who some have pointed to as the weak link in the Patriots defense. As usual though, Hobbs doesn’t lack in confidence. David Heuschkel also looks at Hobbs, who says that technique, not size is what will help him bring down the much larger Jaguar receivers. Dan Pires has all the criticism just rolling off the back of Hobbs. Douglas Flynn notes that the Jacksonville passing attack, led by QB David Garrard is going challenge the Patriots secondary. Robert Lee has a look at the Jaguars rushing attack, but notes that they are no one-dimensional squad.

Mike Reiss looks at the business side of things for the Patriots, noting that a recent contract tweak with Kyle Eckel will save them $5.6 million on their 2008 salary cap. This is important with the likes of Randy Moss and Asante Samuel to deal with following the season. Reiss notes that the Patriots were so conscious of their budget that they finished 2007 just $536 under the cap. Steve Buckley has Wes Welker set to play in his first postseason game, and very glad that he’s not watching this one from Oklahoma. Jennifer Toland has Tom Brady bracing for some hard hits from the Jags this week. Mike Lowe has the Patriots offensive line aware that they’re going to need to step up their protection of Brady this week. Tom King has more on the Patriots preparation for the physical Jags.

John Tomase says that the Jags are going to play physical in this game, no matter the conditions. He also looks at the top three tough teams that the Patriots have faced this season. Hector Longo claims that the Patriots “trio of elders” in Bruschi, Seau and Harrison, who “didn’t exactly cover itself in glory in the finale with the Giants” will be in for “the week of their lives” against the Jaguars. Christopher Price has some of the Patriots veterans recalling their first taste of playoff football. Jeff Horrigan has the Patriots ignoring (at least publically) the comments by the Jaguars’ Paul Spicer, from both the start of the season and yesterday. Buckley has Adalius Thomas brushing off a question about home field advantage, noting that the Jaguars won on the road last week. Horrigan has Brady focused on the Jaguars this week, not on his MVP award. Mark Farinella also has Brady keeping his individual award in perspective.

The lone voter who chose Brett Favre over Tom Brady in the MVP balloting appears to have gotten a lot of inquiries about his decision, and has explained them. I first read his reasoning for the vote in Cold, Hard Football Facts, but I see that the same text (or parts of it) also appears in the Globe (Reiss) and Herald (Tomase) this morning as well.

Gasper’s notebook has Brady up for the AP Offensive Player of the Year today. Guregian’s notebook has Richard Seymour and the defense well aware of the challenge that they will face in the Jacksonville running game. Lee’s notebook has another look at Spicer’s bulletin board material for the Patriots. Glen Farley’s notebook has the Patriots knowing they’ve got to play a few 60 Minutes to beat the Jags. Toland’s notebook has Jabar Gaffney ready to step it up once again in the postseason for the Patriots. Farinella’s notebook has more on Gaffney hoping to elevate his game in the playoffs.

Jim McCabe has a Jaguars notebook in which the team claims that they’ve been game planning for the Patriots ever since the end of last month.

Baseball/Clemens

Gerry Callahan says that an arrogant denial is not Roger Clemens’ best, or smartest defense.

Nick Cafardo has Clemens going on the defensive with his press conference yesterday, including a taped phone conversation with estranged trainer Brian McNamee. Rob Bradford has Clemens brushing off his lawyer’s advice that he “lighten up” during yesterday’s session. Dom Amore says that the recorded phone conversation doesn’t really reveal much. Jeff Howe says that Clemens is nothing if not a fraud.

Art Martone says that Jim Rice may still yet lack the necessary votes to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bradford has some rivals from Rice’s playing career, including Danny Darwin, saying that the Red Sox slugger should be elected to the hall. Cafardo says this is a strange time in Hall of Fame voting with steroid era players such as Mark McGwire reaching their eligibility.

Celtics/Bruins/Misc

Peter May says that it’s still too early to measure how great this Celtics squad is, but reminds us that regular season greatness means nothing if they don’t win the championship. Thanks, Pete. Mark Murphy has Eddie House providing instant offense and spark off the Celtics bench. Jim Fenton says that Glen “Big Baby” Davis appears to be another find for Danny Ainge in the NBA draft.

Stephen Harris has Bruins coach Claude Julien receiving positive feedback from fans at the recent wives charity event. Fluto Shinzawa has Andrew Alberts making slow improvement in his recovery from post-concussion syndrome. Harris’ notebook has Patrice Bergeron still taking things very slowly in his recovery from his own severe concussion.

Bob Ryan weighs in on LSU’s convincing 38-24 dispatch of Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game last night.

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