The hype machine and gimmicks are already starting. We’ve already been prepped to prepare for hearing media people complain about their rooming accommodations, we’ve got Jon Meterparel transparently pretending to believe that the Eagles are going to win this game – not because he really believes that, but just to generate callers and attention. The hosts are already bored and lusting after some controversy. We’ve got our storylines….the last game for this coaching staff together. Will T.O. play? Are the Patriots a dynasty? Boston vs. Philadelphia.
The grades are in. Kevin Mannix hands out a “C” and “C-” to the Running backs and Offensive line respectively. All the rest, with the exception of Special Teams (B-) received an “A”. The ol professor tries to be a bit of a prankster in initially giving Tom Brady a “C”, but then says he’s just kidding and that the QB really gets an “A”. What a cut-up that Mannix is! Michael Parente lists all “A’s” and “B’s” in his version of the report card. Ron Borges meanwhile, doesn’t have a report card, but he takes a look at the play of the Patriots on the nose tackle, specifically rookie Vince Wilfork. An interesting look at the inside play, and complements are handed out to all involved, including Jarvis Green and Ty Warren. I guess maybe Wilfork wasn’t a “makeup” pick for Warren after all. Seriously though, when Borges writes pure football without his bias showing, there’s no one better in town. Mike Reiss tackles the same subject, namely the play of the Patriots defensive line.
Bob Ryan compares Bill Belichick to Red Auerbach, and actually calls and gets the thoughts of the legendary Celtics Patriarch on the head coach of the Patriots. Glenn Ordway picked up on this next theme yesterday afternoon, and Lenny Megliola writes about it today. The premise? These Patriots are more dominating and more popular than the 1980′s Larry Bird led Celtics. Bill Reynolds explores what makes Belichick so successful. Alan Greenberg says that the Patriots coach is at the top of his game, as evidenced by the postseason play of his team. Michael O’Connor looks at Belichick putting the Steelers behind him and getting to work on the Eagles. Michael Parente also looks at Belichick reviewing the Steelers game and looking forward to the Eagles. Michael Felger contemplates that after the Super Bowl, these Patriots will never be the same, as Charlie Weis will be gone and likely Romeo Crennel as well. O’Connor has a brief sidebar of Belichick reflecting on that fact.
Nick Cafardo notes that the last time the Eagles and Patriots played in a meaningful game, it was a new beginning for the Patriots. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the last two games for the Patriots point to the Super Bowl being a blowout in their favor. He also looks back to meeting in September 2003 between the clubs, noting how it turned things around for the Patriots. He says the Eagles will be happy to just be in the Super Bowl. Jim Donaldson says that the Patriots don’t ever get sick of winning. Jon Couture looks back at yet another amazing, yet predictable win for the Patriots. Ian M Clark looks at the difference having Deion Branch made to the Patriots offense. Garry Brown says Branch is another one of the versatile Patriots, he can catch and run with the ball. Joe McDonald looks at the worn out Patriots getting ready to prepare for the Eagles. Fluto Shinzawa also looks at the early preparations. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots always seem to get the last laugh. Jim Fennel says that with a win on Feburary 6th, the Patriots will take their place in history.
Tom E Curran has thoughts and reactions from the losing Pittsburgh locker room, which wasn’t a happy place yesterday. George Kimball (subscription only) also looks back at the hard to take loss for the Steelers.
For articles from the city of brotherly love, you can look at the sports section of Philly.com, which has the articles from both major dailies. In one piece, Phil Sheridan plays the role of Mike Vanderjagt and says the Patriots are ripe for the picking.
Peter May looks at Tony Allen, who has played his way into the starting lineup, providing much needed energy and defense. Steve Bulpett says that Paul Pierce knows he needs to step up and be a leader. Bulpett’s notebook has more on Allen’s stay in the starting lineup.
ESPN has Kentucky/Tennessee at 7:00 and Illinois/Wisconsin at 9:00. ESPN2 has Georgia/Florida at 7:00.