The Patriots backed into the #1 seed in the AFC last night as the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.

It wasn’t anything the Patriots did, the other teams just collapsed and laid down, gifting New England the number one seed and home field advantage through the AFC playoffs.

OK. OK. Some people don’t like it when I play the role of certain sports media members before they get a chance to use the same hot takez.

The painful part of the next few weeks will be the focus on not how the Patriots can win their next game(s), but rather how they can lose them. I should be used to it by now, I guess.

Get all the Patriots coverage from PatriotsLinks.com.

If you’ve got time to kill today, I highly recommend a trip to Dan Shaughnessy Watch. Some great riffs on Dan’s Twitter feed.

Four links, one for each team:

Do the Red Sox really need to get an ace pitcher? – Paul Swydan in the Globe has a really interesting look at how Rick Porcello could actually rank among “ace” pitchers.

Film review: What happened to the New England Patriots offensive line versus New York Jets?  – Kevin Duffy looks at why the O-line struggled so much against the Jets.

Bergeron: Bruins need to stay hungry – Joe McDonald has the Bruins veteran speaking about his team needing a wake-up call.

New Celtic Jameer Nelson must adjust to lower expectations – Gary Washburn has the veteran point guard sounding thrilled to be here.

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58 thoughts on “With Denver Loss, Patriots Back Into #1 Seed in AFC

  1. Yeah you’re right, it wasn’t anything the Patriots did. They only won 12 games, and beat Denver and Cincy head to head. But they didn’t get the #1 seed because of anything they did. They only won.

  2. I understand that we are in fill-in week (or weeks considering X-mas and New Years fall on a Thursday) but WEEI seriously needs to rethink Buckley and Sterns. On the day the Pats clinch the first round bye, during the week the Celtics traded Rajon rondo and during the month the Bruins apparently collapsed…what are Butch and the Buck discussing…why that would be… Dwight Evans Hall of Fame credentials. I know I have typed this next sentence before but this time I really mean it…it was arguably the dumbest segment of talk radio evah! What made the segment worse is they took phone calls on it. Old bastards saying things like Evans led the 1980s in HR’s by a right fielder, or that he was clutch. I debated wrapping my car around a tree just to get the words out of my brain.

    I am going to be unpolitical correct for a moment. If this is the type of radio show Buckley wants to do when he fills in then memo to WEEI…don’t let him fill in. I never understood why the Big Show had Buckley on regularly. I do not understand why he still has a job at the Herald. But most of all I do not understand why, when the words Dwight Evans came out of his mouth some Entercomm exec was not running towards the studio to pull the plug. Dead air would have been a better alternative to that segment. UGH!!!!

    While I am on the rant…someone please put the Mayor out to pasture…maybe ship him back to Braintree with a one way ticket. I do not care but as bad as Buck is…sterns is just as stupid.

    1. I may have been driving in front of you, or perhaps behind you. I saw that tree and thought the same. Especially when comparing pitchers who lost their fastball to manning. Reminds me of the Brady Bunch movie . . . Everything Mike designed was a gas station with a new sign on it. It was like creature double feature on 56 in black and white. Pretty good for 1979 but I wouldn’t watch it today. . Thank God I have friends I can call during morning drive time.

    2. Probably brought up the Evans thing since this week is HOF ballot submission time for BBWAA guys like Buckley, so it’s not entirely inappropriate to bring up the subject. I agree with you, however, that it warrants maybe 10-15 minutes of discussion, not an entire afternoon…..and Stearns really is not very bright. I’ve been saying that for years.

      1. I think you missed the point. It doesn’t deserve airtime because Dwight Evans doesn’t deserve to be in the HOF. There’s no need to discuss it, let alone warrant 10-15 minutes of discussion. If he were HOF worthy, then he’d be in already. But he isn’t, so he isn’t. And the fact that Buckley believes Evans deserves consideration and/or thinks anyone wants to talk about the possibility is why he shouldn’t be on the radio, on TV, or even writing for the dying newspaper industry.

        1. In the wake of the steroids era. Evans’ offensive production, combined with his status as the best defensive RF in baseball for nearly a decade, at least warrants a little inspection, I’d say. Remember, Jim Rice likely wasn’t getting in to the HOF until all of the steroid news came out, and then voters who were disinclined to vote Rice into the Hall suddenly took a second look because there was little doubt that Rice put up his numbers without chemical assistance. Evans, clearly, wasn’t the offensive force in his prime that Rice was, however, Evans’ offensive numbers are pretty good and he was an absolute stud defensively. His Hall candidacy does at least warrant a second, if cursory look IMO. Also, it’s worth mentioning that of all the Red Sox “regulars” who suited up between 1975 and 1990, Evans was the best clutch performer in the bunch–he was their best, most consistent player in both the ’75 and ’86 World Series, in fact.

          1. I’m not saying Evans was a bum. But he just isn’t a HOFer. Taking the steroid era into account: Still no. I mean, it doesn’t require a second thought. Should the idea to discuss his credentials come up during show prep? Sure. And the host(s) should quickly decide that it’s not worth even one segment. I’d say he’s borderline for the Hall of Very Good. If the Baseball HOF were like the Basketball HOF, he’d be a no doubter. Oh, and I don’t think Rice really deserved it either. But that’s me.

          2. Steroids were being used as far back as the 60’s. So I don’t think players from that era should be held up as saints compared to the players today.

    3. It reminds of of another old and lazy subject fill-ins like Butch used to do and that was debating the pros and cons of the salary cap. Ugh…that one went on all through the the 90’s.

  3. I know the Pats-Bills game now, “doesn’t mean anything” but hoping the O-Line plays decent or “Logan Mankins- Dante Scarnecchia Part Deux” will start gaining speed again ( among the usual suspects)

  4. I know this is unbelievable to some, but driving home from work tonight, while scanning the FM dial, I paused on 93.7 WEEI for a mere 30 seconds and was scorched by what was said in that extremely short window, before quickly changing to the next station.

    According to Mike Nitwitsky, the Bills have ‘more to play for’ than the Patriots this weekend. How is this determined? If the Pats have nothing to play to for and will undoubtedly rest some regular contributors, couldn’t (wouldn’t?) a Bills victory be termed as ‘hollow’? If Jimmy Football starts and plays the entire second half, does he not have any incentive to play well and attempt to win the game?

    The Takes simply don’t get any hotter than what Nitwitsky has to offer.

    1. “Nitwitsky”….So someone makes a comment about sports, something that in the grand scheme of life, matters very little, and you feel the need to make a personal attack on the guy because you don’t agree. Par for the course for this forum. The personal insults and attacks on good people like Mike Mutnansky, who is one of the nicest people in Boston media, is sickening. I know it is hard to believe, but his opinion is just as good as yours, and if you disagree, I am pretty sure you can call in and debate him. But cowardly hide behind a screen name on a hateful Internet forum, and take pot shots. Good to see you are in the Christmas spirit.

        1. No, just someone who is tired of people’s professional criticisms spilling over to personal criticisms. This truly is the fellowship of the miserable. This is supposed to be a sports media discussion site. 99% of the crap spewed on here is negative, most of it with hostile undertones. In some cases such as Shaughnessy, I understand. Most cases, its simply a non stop bitch session. Everyone talk show host in the city sucks. Every writer other than Alex Speier, Mike Reiss, and Tom Curran sucks. Peter King sucks. Mike Florio sucks. Adam Scheffter sucks. Everyone sucks. Would be nice if this site was balanced, but clearly that is now the case. Almost seems like jealousy. Once again, sports is such a trivial matter in everyday life. The fact that people get so angry as to resort ro personal attacks on the individuals fortunate enough to cover them, most of whom paid their dues for long hours and little money in Small Town USA, speaks more to those individuals. Save the hostility for more important topics.

          1. They don’t cover anything. You’re confusing Sports Radio Nitwits, like Nitwitsky, with people that do real work, such as the some of the high quality beat reporters that work in New England. No, it’s not just Reiss and Alex Speier. I follow closely and and very much enjoy the work being done by the MassLive (Springfield Republican) .com crew.

          2. Sure seems like you have a personal relationship with Mike Mutnansky. And your criticism of this site as strictly one-sided negativity is flat out wrong. I could go point-by-point, but I’ll stick with the glaringly obvious: The same poster who riled you up with his anti-Mutnansky comments is pro-Dale Arnold. I, on the other hand, can’t stand Dale’s boring, Ned Flanders-esque personality. I also think Dennis, Callahan, & Minihane are a good listen for level-headed sports talk. Meanwhile, a lot of people on here can’t look past their political views. And several posters have criticized Felger for his shtick while also voicing their belief that he would be great if he had a real co-host. It seems like you just didn’t like someone’s critique of Mutnansky and, for whatever reason, took it personally. EEI isn’t too big on Mutt either seeing as they relegated him back to weekends and fill-ins after his failure as a full-time host. I think Merloni was the real problem, but that’s me. IMO, Mutt shouldn’t have taken the lap dog approach to his hosting duties. The larger point, sir, is that there is just as much positivity and negativity for local sports media on here. And there are posters who disagree on their viewpoints. In fact, you’ll see that if you take the time to go through the posts on this very article!

          3. But let’s look at why there’s a site like this in the first place. Boston has a plethora of very passionate fans _ with high standards. The issue for a vast majority of these fans is that the coverage of sports here just isn’t that good. I don’t know where it went wrong, but there is a huge lack of accountability, or laziness and of self-righteousness that bores me and many others. We’re not idiots _ although people like you, sir, believe we are. We’re not fanboys. If a team or player is bad, it’s worth a discussion. I go here to see what people are talking about before I go anywhere else. And I’m not alone. What does that really say about the pack mentality of the sportswriters in Boston?

      1. Aren’t you hiding behind the so-called “Christmas Spirit” with your own anonymous response? Yes you are.

        My name is Dan Babbitt and I currently live in Lynn. Do you want to meet for coffee or a stiffer drink and discuss sports? If you respond positively, I’ll post my email address.

        The only subject I don’t speak about with other people is politics. I work seven days a week, 8 hours a day, but can certainly find the time for my critics. I’ve called many shows, including Mike Nitwitsky’s (Dan from Wakefield, Dan from Peabody, Dan from Lynn). There’s no one hiding on this end.

        1. don’t ya love it when these people (though few and far between) come here and tell us we are “too negative” towards the sports media?… oh, the irony…

  5. The hottest take I heard in the last two days is how you don’t want to play the Pittsburgh Steelers because (wait for it) they really get after the qb! It was all over the radio yesterday and all over my gym this morning.

    Well, if you watch the Patriots, who have allowed only 22 sacks (while accumulating 38) through 15 games, they struggle the most with outside rushers.

    The Steelers have 30 sacks through 15 games. Know how many came from outside rushers? 18. Compare that with other defenses the Patriots have faced…

    Buffalo: 50 sacks, 24 from outside rushers–2 vs NE
    Detroit: 41, 14 from outside rushers–None vs NE
    Minn: 40, 16.5 from outside rushers–1 vs NE
    KC: 39, 24 from outside rushers–3 vs NE
    Denver 38, 25.5 from outside rushers–1 vs NE
    Miami: 38, 18 from outside rushers–4 vs NE, all in week 1.
    NYJ: 38, 16.5 from outside rushers–5 vs NE, four in week 16.
    Colts: 36, 7+ from outside rushers (depending on how guys lined up)–None vs NE
    Chicago: 36, 16.5 from outside rushers–1 vs NE
    Green Bay: 29, 19 from outside rushers –1 vs NE
    San Diego: 22, 5 from outside rushers–1 vs NE
    Oakland: 21, 7 from outside rushers–2 vs NE
    Cincinnati: 20, 10.5 from outside rushers–1 vs NE

    Some teams have very real pass rushing threats, particularly from the outside. If you put the Steelers in there, they are near the bottom in sacks, right in the middle in sacks from the outside rushers.

    In other words, the Steelers fears are widely based upon historical perception, not reality. However, to expect Boston sports media types to do the research is folly.

    1. At least they’re not hyping the Ravens as much since they lost to Houston on Sunday. Because, you know, Baltimore isn’t afraid to come into Foxboro! They have a history of whupping on the Pats here in the playoffs! They won’t be intimidated! (Of course, those Baltimore teams between 2009-2012 were far different than the current version, which pretty much relies on Flacco and the passing game to win, doesn’t run the ball nearly as well, and isn’t nearly as good defensively; but, the hotsportztaker’s can’t allow that reality to enter into the conversation).

    2. The funny thing is there is no historical perception to go off of. In the Brady-Belichick era, the Steelers have never beaten the Pats in an important game. I think they’ve only beat the Pats twice in that span, one of which was the Matt Cassel year. Felger *used* to say such things, that the Steelers didn’t scare him, that the Pats always beat them when it matters, etc… Now they are “Team X” that the Pats need to fear big time.

      Now that huge target Rajon Rondo has finally been traded, which the media elite have desired for years, their next target is Brad Stevens. Less than 2 years into his deal, he suddenly no longer wants to be here and is going to bolt.

  6. Good to see D&H doing strong. I don’t think anybody had any thought they’d beat DB&YARM but that’s a pretty strong number.

    Seeing T&R back on top is kinda sickening. A non-sports show on a sports station, for the most part.

    1. Yeah, surprisingly high number for Dale & Holley. Might cause the station to make the mistake of keeping the show as is.

  7. Yep. Heard that too. I also “heard” Gresh and Flynn just biting their tongues and letting him spew this BS. This year, more than any in recent memory, this team EARNED everything they fought for this year.

    1. Gresh is better than that. Why do they still have shank on? He used to torch that guy when he was on the Score in Providence. Same for Felger. Gresh used to comment on his articles back in the day and call him a moron.

  8. Merry Christmas to all my Santa believing friends. I hope the Jolly man brought you and your family nice things and life long memories. In that vein I thought I would make a Christmas morning post about the gifts Boston Sports and the Boston Sports Media have given us this year.

    – Tops on my list is the return of Dale Arnold. For as much as I can’t stand Michael Holly, I still listen to that show in bursts because I think Dale is that good. Having him on the radio full time is a welcome break from Hotsportztakes, uninformed sports talk and the schlock that most hosts (both local and national) push off as “quality” sports talk. I know there are people who do not like Dale. They think he is too milquetoast. I have never understand that as I think he truly is the most consummate talk radio pro in the Boston market and maybe the best local one ever besides Chuck Wilson.

    – The New England Patriots. For the 13th year in a row they have a winning season and give us fans hope that they can win the Superbowl. It must be very difficult to cover this team on a daily basis because all the synonyms for “excellence” were used up a long time ago. On a quiet morning as I sit in my window seat and reflect I think about how much enjoyment of their games I have had over this past year and then over all the games in the Bill Belichick era (I would have said Bob Kraft era but there were those 3 Pete Caroll years…ugh) and wonder why the media in this town, especially the Globe can’t stand this team. It boggles my mind.

    – This year’s New England Revolution. There are not many soccer fans on this board which is fine. But for two weeks this year people who are not soccer fans were paying attention and at least aware of the Revs. The playoffs were filled with exciting games and the final against the Galaxy was a good game…they just happened to lose. If the Krafts can get an inner city soccer stadium built, I predict the Revs will draw more fans yearly than both the Bruins and the Celtics. I am not saying Soccer has arrived. I am saying that the Revs and MLS this year made strides. They were a fun team to follow and their games were great.

    – If you are a fan of Hotsportstakes then there was no bigger gift than the last place Boston Red Sox, their complete bungling of all things John Lester at least from the Media’s perspective, and how they have set themselves up to be completely second guessed all through next season. From having too many outfielders, to not enough pitching, to whether Larry or Ben is making decisions, to whether John Ferrell needs to go (he really does…he is not a good manager…his one flukey title not withstanding) the Sox are a ready made summer soap opera with Hotsportztakes that write themselves.

    – Lastly, the biggest gift of all to Boston Fans this past year had to be Meb Keflezighi’s amazing win at the Boston Marathon this year. His story, coupled with his gutsy win coming one year after the bombing represented all that is good in the world of sports. I don’t think enough time or credit was given to that not so young man for his accomplishment but to me watching him run for those 2 hours and 8 minutes was the best sports gift I received this past year.

    1. I look at Dale as a pros pro. Who ever he is with, he makes them sound good. Him and John Dennis can keep a show moving

    2. Great post! I agree with every last bit of it.

      I use to really dislike Dale. I found him SO pompous and arrogant. I don’t know what happened, but I’ve totally changed my tone on him. I enjoy listening to him and Holley, however I feel the show could benefit greatly if they just let them be themselves. Who else thinks that they get irrelevant talking points (fights at the station, Dale’s diet, Holley’s car/girlfriend troubles) from the higher ups? It can become incredibly annoying listening to this dribble for entire segments during RUSH hour of all times.

      The Revs are a great story. I want to watch more soccer and get more into it. Being a son of European immigrants, I feel a strong connection to the game and love that it’s making strides in this market.

      And the Patriots have been a team that we have all been lucky to watch. We are literally witnessing history, and none of us need allow any of the negatively to enter into our way of thinking. We can certainly be critical and point out flaws, but similar to the Big Show in it’s heyday, the Hub have set a narrative based on the extreme, in this case however, pessimism.

      That’s okay. We have a choice. And I choose to sit back and enjoy the last few years of the Brady/Belechick era.

      1. They’re really at the mercy of management since Dale is on weekly contracts and Holley is up in February.

    3. Dale actually enjoys sports and watches games…and he stands up to phony contrarian nitwits like Pittsburgh Salk (Benz) when they attempt to make fun of him for doing these things.

      What’s not to like?

    4. I found a new appreciation for Dale Arnold this year. I was never much of a fan during his long run in the 10-2 slot, but Mutansky, Salk, and especially Benz were so hideously awful that I gained a new found appreciation of the difficultly talking local sports for 20 hours a week.

      1. I’ve always enjoyed Dale even going back to his days with Eddie. That was great tension radio if youre into that. His best battery mate was Bob N. Anyone know how he’s doing now?

  9. I’m surprised that MFB. had that good of a rating. Benz is worst…. About the D&H. Rating it might make Mr ever thing sucks tone it down a bit. Yes and Santa brought my presents that were under the tree

  10. For Bruce, ESPN . com headline. Because it’s a big story now, every time a big free agent changes teams and his former fans either boo or cheer for him: These nitwits have nothing better to write about.

    Miami nice: Fans cheer LeBron

  11. Adam Jones filling in for Gresh & Zo and now I hear why people hate this guy. Paranoia-radio at its finest. Gronk is gonna get hurt!! Gotta protect Gronk!! Don’t let him in the stadium this Sunday!! Cancel the game. Don’t even play it!

    They’re football players. Football players play football. And yes, they get hurt. It’s the most violent game on the planet. There’s 53 guys on the roster that are dealing with an injury of some kind. Ugh….I was able to tolerate about 4 minutes of it.

    * I stand corrected. As I switched the station I heard him identify himself as ‘Kauffman?” No idea…

    1. Butch Stearns breaking down baseball stats (J.D. Drew, no less) is even more suicidal radio. Bullet me now. No radio today, I guess.

    2. Lol. Paranoid talk show hosts. I’m surprised they drove to the radio station they could have had a car accident . If they made it to the studio in one piece I hope they took the stairs and not the elevator it could get stuck

    3. Jones is the World Champion of “Sky is Falling” radio.

      On this particular point though, I am very amused.

      It’s almost as if no NFL players have ever been injured (from the most minor bruise to season-ending) during week one of the regular season. This is an issue of probability. We have seen it enough times (or rather, I have and perhaps you, for that matter) to know that the probability of an injury does not increase with the amount of snaps in a single game, or even the number of games played. I’m speaking specifically about the NFL here (there are major injuries in week one, week two, week three and so on), but there is at least one exception.

      There is a known history (not really anymore, because there are no more ‘workhorse’ RBs, possibly for this very reason), of ‘workhorse’ RBs carrying the ball 360+ times in a regular season and suffering an injury or in the very least, suffering a serious decline in production, in the following season.

  12. So much for all that smarmy bragging that morning Klan show on WEEI was doing about their one month they won in August when Rich was away dealing with his wifes ilness.

  13. Are there any two people more irrelevant to the sports talk scene than Butch and Buckely? These two guys sports knowledge stops at 1997. That fact that they still collect a check for doing this is welfare.

  14. Did anybody catch Minihane hosting the Early Edition on Comcast last night? If yes, I have empathy for you. If no, PLEASE don’t try and
    view it on-line. The suits at Comcast might think that it was a success based on views. It was unequivocally the worst hosted show in Boston for as far as I can remember.

    My main question is to Comcast Sportsnet. Why would you
    allow someone with zero TV talent (or sports knowledge) host a show. I’ll give you it was a holiday week but c’mon. Minhane is the same guy who criticizes Erin Andrews, Jenny Dell, et al for their supposed flubs. He then gets a chance to show the world how it should be done on TV and it turns in to worse than “Johnny Football “. And I mean WAY worse.

    I know WEEI has tried to pump Minihane as a ratings magnet
    with his supposed edge. They started with “ask Kirk anything”, that lasted about a week. He ran out of edgy material, because he had none. Then, headlines, headlines, headlines, which is just a regurgitation of the NY Post front page. Then the nonsensical, I quit, garbage. And then tired “can we all agree”. Blah, blah, blah.

    Poor guy is trying to become the next Felger. Um, no, and I am sorry for bringing Felger’s name it to this. Please. Um, He needs to set the
    bar a smidge lower. Like Barry White lower. Minihane should try and get to the level of Dalen Cuff or Adam Pellerin first.

  15. The Gold Standard on JoJo Lafell: “Receiver finished with four catches for a team-high 70 yards and earned an additional $100,000 in incentives in the process.”

    I am stunned, shocked and chagrined that the well known cheapskates, H.C. B.B. and team owner, Krafty Bob, allowed this to happen. It must been an oversight on their part. Either that or H.C. B. B. allowed it over and above Kraft’s bottom-line decision making and Kraft is fuming in the background! How delicious a narrative that would make!

  16. I love listening to sports commentary. Is there a good sports talk radio station in the area? I just can’t get enough of my local sports. I just moved to the area and I don’t know much.
    Mark Leach | http://1037thegame.com

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