Heading Out

I’m going to be gone all next week, but have already lined up a guest blogger for each day. Please tip them accordingly.

I’ll likely not have access to email next week, so if you send me a message, I’ll have to get back to you when I return.

There’s a huge football game this weekend at Gillette Stadium (one I’ll be scrambling to watch) between the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Be sure to check in at Patriots Daily on Sunday morning for the Sunday Links to all the Patriots stories in the morning papers.

The game is going to be the main focus of the pregame shows on Sunday. CBS’ The NFL Today will have former Steelers coach Bill Cowher game planning on offense and defense on how the Steelers can beat the Patriots.

Here are some thoughts from CBS Analyst Phil Simms on the Patriots/Steelers matchup:

(On Undefeated New England Patriots): Now the NFL is not about all the games, it’s about which game of the year is it this week. I guess there are certain parts of it that are good, but we tend to lose focus on too many teams that are doing some good stuff and they are going to be part of the playoff picture. We can’t get past the Patriots, the Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, and this week the Steelers squeak in there because they are playing the Patriots…Every time the Patriots play a game that is close now, of course since they are undefeated, it becomes huge news. I fell into the trap, thinking, my gosh, maybe what they are doing is so extraordinary that they may not play close games this year. Now I realize that it’s just too hard to separate yourself dramatically from the rest of the field, especially if you are talking about the elite five, six, or eight teams…

(On Pittsburgh Steelers): So what do the Pittsburgh Steelers have going for them this week against the New England Patriots? New England played on Monday night, so it is a short work week. The Patriots are looked upon as the champions because they are undefeated. Everyone wants a shot at the champ. I don’t think teams say, ‘Oh my gosh we are playing the Patriots.’ They look at it as a great opportunity. It was the Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. It won’t be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl because they have bigger aspirations than just winning one game. The Steelers are a good team. They are a tough team. They are always one of the top athletic football teams in the league. They have speed on defense. They are solid on offense, and they have Ben Roethlisberger, who four-or-five times a year is going to win a game almost by himself on the plays he is capable of making…Everybody says you have to attack the Patriots offense. I have never done a Steelers game in my life where they didn’t have somewhat of a pretty good array of blitzes. So I can’t imagine that all of a sudden this week they decide, well its Tom Brady, the New England Patriots, and Randy Moss, let’s not blitz. Dick LeBeau has been in pro football too long. I can’t imagine he is all of a sudden going to change in one week…Any time I do a Steelers game, I’m always very interested in seeing their blitzes and how other teams react to them, and see if they are effective…

(On New England’s Game Plan): If I was a fan sitting back watching the game, I would want to see how the New England Patriots’ offense is going to react to what the Steelers have done the past couple of weeks. Will they continue to always spread the field and put Tom Brady in a shot gun? Will it be more of a mixture?…I hear constantly on TV, and I want to make sure I address it this week, ‘You have got to run the football,’ and all this you got to, got to, got to. Yes, you want to be well-versed. The more things you can do increase your chances of winning games. But I’m not going to sit there and say the Patriots have to line up and have great days running the football to win. I don’t think they have to. They play at New England. They have proven they can throw it in bad weather. It’s cold but it’s not like it was 30 years ago with 40 mile-an-hour winds, playing on dirt fields and it’s raining and everything else. It’s artificial fields. The footing is better. The weather is not as bad as it used to be….

On ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown they will have the following Patriots-related features:

Bill Belichick’s Press Conferences
A Bill Belichick press conference is like most head coaches’ press conferences around the NFL where answers are usually short, repetitive, and reveal little or nothing at all. In a unique feature, reporter Greg Garber travels to Foxborough to reveal the experience of trying to penetrate the impenetrable Belichick, what questions are more likely to get answered, and the rare occurrences of levity.

Soundtracks – 2007 Patriots
Soundtracks will feature the in-game audio of the Patriots – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Randy Moss and others – chasing a perfect season.

A few more links for this afternoon:

Jesse Noyes in the Boston Business Journal has a look at the business side of the Celtics and how Comcast bought FSN New England at exactly the right time.

Bill Simmons explores how to get Jason Kidd out of New Jersey.

Tom Curran examines the remaining roadblocks for the Patriots.

Greg Garber says that we’re just witnessing a market correction with the Patriots.

Tom Pedulla offers a blueprint for beating the Patriots.

I think Michael Silver caught a love of Brett Favre from his former colleague Peter King.

John Madden breaks down the week 14 matchups, including Patriots/Steelers.

Steve Silverman says that the Steelers are the league’s best option to knock off the Patriots.

Jason Whitlock talks Sean Taylor, and also says that talk of a league-endorsed conspiracy to keep the Patriots undefeated is the whine of losers.

Finally, on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan this morning, you might have heard this man:

madden.jpg

Say the following:

“Belichick’s obviously just a clown, he’s the greatest football coach ever, but he’s just a pair of clown shoes, what a miserable, terrible looking, just sad-sack of a human being”

Irony, thy name is Mark Madden.