NFL Opening Night

As you might imagine, there are a ton of links today. Both the Globe and the Herald have their Patriots/NFL previews today, each has pullout sections devoted to the Super Bowl champs. I’m not going to be able to get to all the links today, but I’ll try to highlight the good stuff, and the two links above will take you to the Preview sections so that you can see all the links for yourself. Before he left for ESPN, Michael Smith penned a number of pieces for the preview, including the lead piece, called Dream Team, where he looks at the team concept that his emphasized from the top down in the Patriots organization. Michael Felger looks at the challenge of defending their title, and how the team has the example of 2002 to look back upon and learn from. Jim Donaldson says there is much to be optimistic about regarding these Patriots. Alan Greenberg shows how Bill Belichick stresses that this is a new team, and that all glory and achievements from the past stay right there, in the past. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that it is hard to find things to pick on with this team, even though some do:

Maybe we can remind Ty Law again how much less money he's making than Champ Bailey. Or maybe Tom Brady hasn't heard about Chad Pennington's huge signing bonus. Or maybe we can stir up some righteous indignation by pointing out that loyal season ticket-holders were charged full price for that last preseason game, which featured none of the Patriots starters! It's consumer fraud, I tell you! A blatant rip-off!

Bob Ryan compares this Patriots era to the glory days of Boston’s other sports franchises. Steve Buckley (subscription only) has a very similar article in the Herald. Michael Parente looks at the great expectations upon this Patriots unit. Mike Reiss looks at the influence of the coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Felger assures fans that Belichick is firmly planted here in New England. Bill Reynolds wonders where the Patriots go from their position at the top.

The baseball dude Steve Buckley (subscription only) says the Patriots are the headline act tonight, and seems to only grudgingly admit even that. He refers to their “know-it-all” fans, a curious reference. Ian M. Clark looks at the high hopes for the Patriots going into tonight, he looks at what identity this club might emerge with this season. Ron Chimelis is is a little uneasy going into tonight. He doesn’t like what he saw in the preseason. Christopher Price looks at the bullseye on the back of the Patriots going into this season. Kevin Mannix looks at rookie Vince Wilfork and veteran Keith Traylor, who try to fill the hole left by the departure of Ted Washington. Joe Burris and Alan Greenberg both have articles on Tom Brady, who is now a household name across the country. Michael Gee compares and contrasts Brady and Peyton Manning, who have developed a friendship from competing against one another. Michael Smith looks at how Rodney Harrison helped get Corey Dillon here.

Alan Greenberg has a positional breakdown of the Patriots roster. Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots linebackers. Michael Smith has a piece on fan favorite Tedy Bruschi, who just keeps going and going. Rich Thompson looks at Ty Law, who yes, is still on the roster and didn’t get cut for salary cap reasons. There was no real chance of this happening, but several media types raised the possibility all during the preseason on the distant chance that if it happened, they could promote themselves. Thompson also looks at the punting game, and the offensive line as well as the defensive backs and special teams. Busy guy. Michael Gee (subscription only) says Bill Belichick is on the cusp of greatness, and starts to consider what his legacy is going to be. Felger looks at what Belichick is doing differently in his second attempt to defend a title.

For tonight’s game, Tom Curran reports on the Colts revamped secondary. Nick Cafardo looks at the excitement and hype for the season opener. Michael Felger wonders what Bill Belichick might have up his sleeve for the Colts tonight. Dan Pires says the new NFL point of emphasis on the chuck rule will effect both clubs, but predicts a Patriots victory.
Michael Parente writes that season openers don’t get much better than this one tonight. Felger’s notebook wonders who is going to return punts tonight. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the release of Bob Hallen.

Oh yeah, the Red Sox continue to streamroll West coast opponents.They breeze over the A’s last night 8-3, completing a three game sweep of the West-leading A’s. Games stories: Bob HohlerJeff HorriganSean McAdam and David Heuschkel. Along for the ride, Dan Shaughnessy compares the team to Delta house (just as Ben did on this page on Monday) not the more general “Animal House” – Shaughnessy favorite, but specifically “Delta” house. His whole column is on the hairstyles of the Red Sox. Hard hitting journalistic coverage of the hottest team on the planet. He does manage to poke some fun at himself with a CHB reference, so it’s not all bad. Tony Massarotti says that the computer nerds in the Red Sox front office don’t have numbers for defense. Howard Bryant (subscription only) urges caution for Red Sox followers:

Certainly, the Red Sox die-hards must enjoy this run, for the simple fact that they don't happen often. But, as a game equivalent, the Red Sox are only in about the sixth inning. The World Series, i.e., the bottom of the ninth, is a long, long way away.

In other words, it’s early yet. Bryant has Johnny Damon comparing this Red Sox team to the powerful Oakland one he was a part of a few years back. That one seemed to have it all, and didn’t make it out of the first round. Devoted Colts fan Buddy Thomas tells us Manny isn’t the league MVP, (He seems to favor Sheffield) he’s not even the MVP of the Red Sox. He says it’s Johnny Damon. Massarotti also has a look at Ichiro, who the Sox will face next, as he makes his run at the single season hit record. Bryant also has a piece on Pedro Martinez, who won his 16th game last night. Hohler’s notebook and Horrigan’s notebook looks at Ellis Burks, who desperately wants to contribute something to this team. McAdam’s notebook and Heuschkel’s notebook both look at Ichiro.

New Celtic Gary Payton was arrested last month for investigation of driving under the influence.

Bill Griffith looks at the media coverage of the Patriots for tonight and the upcoming season. A special edition of Scott’s Shots has an announcement regarding the future of the column.

ABC has Patriots/Colts at 9:00. NESN has Red Sox/Mariners at 10:00.