PM Links For Championship Weekend

Here’s the weekend lineup here on the BSMW network:

Tomorrow AM, I believe we’ll have Saturday links here with a guest blogger. Patriots Daily should have an AFC Championship Roundtable.

On Sunday, Patriots Daily is your headquarters for the Sunday Links and pregame thoughts.

Monday is a secular Holiday, but we’ll likely have something for you here on both sites.

Be sure to check out the BSMW baseball trip to Oakland with the BSMW Travel Club. Start spring early with some great California weather during the first week of April.

Some late week links:

Aaron Schatz has an AFC Championship preview posted on Football Outsiders.

Bill Simmons has his mailbag and weekend picks.

Kerry J. Byrne has a “baby blueprint” of how San Diego can beat the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Don Banks has five ways that the Chargers can beat the Patriots. Tom Curran has five more.

Mike Freeman says that the Patriots aging linebackers could be the hole that San Diego exploits on Sunday.

Peter King has his AFC and NFC Championship picks.

Michael Silver looks at whether the Chargers and Giants can reverse the outcome of their week two losses to these same opponents.

USA Today has posted their Chargers vs. Patriots preview

John Clayton notes that Patriots/Chargers has turned into quite the nasty rivalry.

Dan Wetzel has Bill Belichick serving up more humble pie to his team.

Boston Daily collects the thoughts of Will Leitch, AJ Daulerio and the Mighty MJD in previewing Sunday’s game.

Chad Finn has 10 free minutes and thoughts for you.

Apparently, the New York Post doesn’t know the difference between Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth. (Edit – they had a graphic with the story that had a picture of Stallworth instead of Moss. It has since been removed.)

She Said, He Said

Hopefully the Randy Moss thing is winding down now as we approach the end of the week. Yesterday saw the accuser’s attorney go to the press to give their side of things, which included the claim that Moss’ attorney’s were the first to offer a “six figures” to make this go away. That result in an angry rebuttal from Tim DiPiero, the agent for Moss. DiPiero sent his account to the Globe and Herald, and appears to have been diligent in trying to dot his “i’s” and cross this “t’s” in this whole ugly affair. Among other things, he notes that he had contacted the FBI about the threats made by the accuser’s attorney – if true, that would certainly lend some credibility to the Moss side of things.

With the statement coming in pretty late last night (The Herald posted the statement after 9:00), you would imagine some reporters needed to re-write their stories they had written solely based on the accuser’s account earlier in the day. The headline of Bob Hohler’s story would seem to indicate that, even though the DiPiero material is included in the story. Today the Herald’s legal team is made up of Heslam, Tomase and Sweet as they report on the latest events. Shalise Manza Young also has a report on the events of yesterday.

Karen Guregian has Moss back to his old self at practice yesterday. Lenny Megliola says that the Moss mess will not be a distraction to the Patriots on Sunday.

On Patriots Daily, we’ve got a few notes of the week, while finishing up our roundtable. Mike Reiss has a look at the Patriots defensive linemen and what their job is in the 3-4 defense. Eric McHugh says Sunday could be a battle of hotheads with Phillip Rivers and Rodney Harrison on the field together. (Something that wasn’t the case last January or September.) Christopher L. Gasper examines the offensive line of the Patriots and their ability to morph into whatever the game plan calls for each week. Mark Farinella also has a good profile of the Offensive line, and the pride they take in their play and also in playing together as a close-knit unit.

Michael Vega has Junior Seau preparing to face the team he is most identified with for the AFC championship. John Tomase notes that Wes Welker was briefly a Charger before catching on with the Dolphins. Jeff Horrigan has Rodney Harrison vowing to police his emotions a little more closely this weekend, but not let up on his aggressiveness. Chris Kennedy has Seau and Harrison putting their San Diego ties behind them for this game. Chris Price though, says that the duo is secretly licking their chops.

Guregian has Laurence Maroney stepping up his game as the season has gone along. David Heuschkel also looks at Maroney and his progress as of late. Jennifer Toland notes that with the emergence of Maroney, the Chargers will now have to plan for the run as well as the pass. Christopher Price has more on Maroney taking advantage of his late-season carries. Horrigan also report on the mammoth job facing Dan Koppen and the Patriots offensive line this Sunday. Tomase compares Patriots vs. Chargers in a position-by-position comparison.

Guregian’s notebook has Seau not getting sentimental about facing the team he spent 13 years with. Vega’s notebook has Bill Belichick talking about the Chargers’ theme song, a tune he isn’t a huge fan of. Farinella’s notebook has more from Belichick on the Chargers fight song. Robert Lee’s notebook opens with the same topic. Tommy Hine’s notebook has the Patriots coach keeping an eye on the weather for Sunday. McHugh’s notebook has the Patriots O-Line trying to heal up a bit this week. Toland’s notebook has the Moss talk quieting down around Foxboro and the focus returning to the Chargers. David Brown’s notebook says that Moss and Donte Stallworth have suffered late-season disappointment before.

Chargers

Jim McCabe re-visits the 1981 AFC Championship, where the Chargers took on the Bengals in temperatures that reached 59-below zero. Michael Felger has Norv Turner doing what Marty Schottenheimer was unable to accomplish – winning in the playoffs. Steve Buckley has the Chargers on their best behavior this week – with no trash talking to be heard anywhere. David Brown says that San Diego might be forced to use their bench often on Sunday.

Dan Shaughnessy profiles the anti-Brady, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers. The Herald believes the Bill Belichick might’ve given the Chargers bulletin-board material by saying that he hates the “San Diego Super-Chargers” theme song. Yes, I’m serious. Sandy Burgin has former Gardner High star Jacques Cesaire coming back to New England with the Chargers.

McCabe’s notebook has Charger injury updates. Buckley’s notebook has LaDainian Tomlinson getting back on the practice field yesterday. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has a roundup of NFL coverage available this weekend on the local and national outlets.

Elsewhere

The Bruins lost in the shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, falling 3-2. Tony Massarotti says that the Red Sox need to take care of Terry Francona. The Celtics get ready to take on the Sixers at the Garden tonight.

Check your stories here:

RedSoxLinks.com

CelticsLinks.com

BruinsLinks.com

The BSMW Full Court Press has been busy as of late, Mike Martin says that Tony Allen should be playing more. Mike Brilliant has his latest Celtics report card.

Finally this morning, Red Sox fans won’t have Glenn Geffner to kick around anymore. The part time radio voice is moving on to the Florida Marlins, where he will be the #2 voice, calling four innings each game, while lead announcer Dave Van Horne will call five. Geffner is from the Miami area, so this is something of a homecoming for him.

Be sure to check out the trip to Oakland with the BSMW Travel Club.

BSMW Travel Club Trip To Oakland

We’re in the middle of AFC Championship week, but believe it or not, baseball is right around the corner. Spring training starts in 29 days and the Red Sox are already selling trips to the opening games in Tokyo.

If you can go, that sounds like an amazing trip. It might be a little out of your price range, however.

I’m pleased to announced that BSMW has teamed up with Sun Valley Travel to form the BSMW Travel Club. Our first trip is going to be for when the clubs return to the US from Japan and go to Oakland for the opening series here stateside on April 1st and 2nd. bsmwtravelclub.gif

We’re confident that you’ll find the trip prices more than competitive. As part of the package, you’ll get Plaza Club tickets to both games at McAfee Coliseum, which include a full meal…not a hot dog and soda, but a full meal from the Plaza Club Lounge. (I had this deal last season, and it was pretty good. The seats were great, and you actually have a choice of meals, at that game, I had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and chocolate cake, along with a beverage.)

You also get four nights at the Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, (including taxes) perfect for shopping and sightseeing in the city.

Round trip bus transportation to the games from the hotel is included – no taxis, trains or rental cars needed to get to and from the game.

BSMW members have already arranged get-togethers at several sports events (including a Celtics game scheduled later this month), this is a great opportunity to get together with fellow Boston sports fans and enjoy the California experience together.

We’ve got only 50 spots available, so you’ll need to jump on this deal quickly.

Get all the details and reserve your spot at the BSMW Travel Club website.

You can contact the club via email at [email protected].

Moss The Story

Before we dive into the Moss stories, be sure to swing by Patriots Daily, where Bill Barnwell examines a few plays from the last Patriots/San Diego game.

Christopher L. Gasper and the Herald legal team of Tomase, Guregian and Fargen outline the allegations against Randy Moss by a Florida woman. Mark Farinella also reports on the details of the incident, which is alleged to have taken place on January 6th, down in Florida. Chris Kennedy has trouble catching up with Randy Moss once again. Rich Garven adds this incident to the list of problems the Patriots have had in their thus-far perfect season. David Brown has Moss visibly upset as he relates his side of things.

John Tomase says that this incident will not be a distraction to the Patriots in their quest for a perfect season. David Heuschkel has Moss having to answer to his critics once again. Karen Guregian has Moss giving his side of events. Robert Lee has Moss denying the allegations. By Douglas Flynn tells us that “the rehabilitation of Randy Moss’ image took a hit yesterday.” Steve Solloway has more on Moss defending himself.

Jackie MacMullan tells us that the “allegations leveled at Moss are extremely troubling and should make owner Robert Kraft blanch” and says that “has serious questions to answer, ones that could have ramifications regarding his future.” Jeff Jacobs however, says that you’d be a fool to judge this case based on what we know at the moment, and the only thing Moss is guilty of right now is questionable friendships and being famous. Tony Massarotti says that Moss speaking about this yesterday shows that he cares, something that wasn’t always clear in the past.

The Herald provides a helpful Randy Moss Crimeline, which includes such heinous crimes against humanity as pretending to moon the Vikings Packers crowd. Farinella has Tom Brady brushing aside the Moss controversy and focusing on the Chargers.

So, as Mark Malone would say….”Do you guys want to talk football?” Here are the actual football-related links for this morning.

Shalise Manza Young has patient running paying off big for Laurence Maroney. Michael Vega has Tom Brady focused on the Chargers and what his team needs to do to beat them. Guregian has Brady saying that the cold will not be a factor on Sunday. Massarotti has Benjamin Watson OK with his role in the Patriots offense. Bill Doyle tells us it’s going to be a cold Championship Sunday for the NFL.

Vega’s notebook checks in with Sammy Morris, who is frustrated at not being able to be a larger part of this historic run after his season-ending injury. Guregian’s notebook has the Patriots knowing that the San Diego subs can be just as effective as their starters. Farinella’s notebook has LaDainian Tomlinson gushing praise for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots getting ready for both San Diego quarterbacks.

Chargers

Ian M. Clark examines the turnaround in San Diego since the last time these clubs met. Jim McCabe checks in with Chargers cornerback Marlon McCree, who delivered the key hit on Reggie Wayne on Sunday, basically sealing the win for the Chargers, a year after his playoff interception against the Patriots was undone by Troy Brown. Steve Buckley has San Diego and the Chargers feeling misunderstood. Flynn has Belichick talking about the Chargers linebackers yesterday. Brown has a peek at Antonio Cromartie, who burst onto the scene as a full time player this season.

McCabe’s notebook has a look at San Diego cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, who may be seeing a lot of Moss on Sunday. Buckley’s notebook has Phillip Rivers doing all he can to get ready physically for Sunday.

Celtics

Greg Oden finally made it to the Garden last night. All last season the former Ohio State center was being looked upon as the savior of the franchise. We know how things worked out (or didn’t work out) instead. Last night, Oden was on the bench of the Portland Trailblazers, in street clothes as the Celtics got back in the win column with a 100-90 win over Portland.

Marc J. Spears and Mark Murphy have Ray Allen leading the Celtics to the win, scoring 35 points on the night, 26 of them in the second half. Bill Doyle has Allen looking like his old self last night. Tim Weisberg has more on the Celtics getting back on track. Jeff Howe also reports on the Celtics getting back on track.

Jeff Horrigan notes that Allen was certainly “feeling it” last night, a literal sensation he gets when a hot is coming. Lenny Megliola notes that the Celtics were much more animated last night. Peter May looks at the young Blazers, who have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA thus far. Horrigan also has Greg Oden finally making it to Boston.

Spears’ notebook has Rajon Rondo sidelined once again. Murphy’s notebook says that Rondo’s absence remains a huge void for the Celtics, despite the win. Doyle’s notebook has more on Rondo’s absence.

Is it Sunday Yet?

Afternoon links by guest blogger Brian

Checking in with some afternoon links for everyone, focusing on a national perspective on this weekend’s game, as well as the Randy Moss situation Bruce touched on earlier. It sounds like this is going to be one of those “he-said, she-said” stories until we get more information, and knowing the Pats, I don’t think we’re getting much more.

Mike Reiss has an update on the situation with Moss’ most recent comments after declining to answer questions.

Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com was the first national outlet to pick up on this story, as his latest post tracks the evolution of this story since this morning, with a much needed legal perspective.

Len Pasquarelli has a piece on the playmaking abilities of the Patriots receivers not named Moss or Welker, with Jags corner Terry Cousins offering an opposing player perspective.

Michael Silver has an excellent piece about the top seeds in the AFC over the last three seasons, and how following devastating defeats at home, at least two of the three teams seem to have learned from their mistakes and won the Super Bowl the following season, for various reasons. As a Pats fan, let’s hope this trend doesn’t prove to be true and we have to wait until next year. All this being said, he closes with his belief that the Pats will buck the aforementioned trend.

In case you missed it, our good buddy, Gregg Easterbrook, checks in with his perspective on a potential Favre vs. Brady Super Bowl matchup, while on one hand calling it “arguably the best quarterback pairing in Super Bowl History,” then in the next paragraph immediately predicting that the game’s story line would be that “traditionalists could root for a small town over a big metropolis; a team with an old-fashioned image would face the team that represents hypermodernism.” I’m not really sure what that even means, as I didn’t know Foxboro, or New England in general, is the center of modernism and metropolis. Furthermore, this quote seems to imply an underlying financial distinction between the two teams, with one characterized as “old fashioned,” and the other as “hypermodern.” I wish he would elaborate on this juxtaposition a bit more…why are we “hypermodern?” This quote seems to imply that the Packers have gone about their road to the Super Bowl in a different way than the Patriots…how so? Don’t all teams operate within the same salary cap structure? Regardless of a franchise’s history and the stadium they play in, aren’t the players of every team subject to the same system? Do Packers players play the game differently because of the history of the franchise, or get paid differently? I guess my point is that if Ryan Grant played for the Patriots, is he “hypermodern” now? Maybe I’m the only one confused here…moving on…

Scouts, Inc. (subscription only) has a breakdown of this weekend’s Pats/Chargers matchup.

Don Banks has a piece on sweet redemption for Tom Coughlin and Norv Turner this postseason.

In case you missed it, Jason Cole has a nice feature on Bill Belichick’s affinity for linebackers, dating all the way back to his days with the Giants. Cole makes note of the contract given to Adalius Thomas this past offseason in response to the Colts game last year. Who?

I don’t care what Greg Doyel says about Phillip Rivers infusing fun into the “No Fun League,” I still think he acts like a jerk who hasn’t accomplished anything in this league. Take this quote from Doyel; “This is one of the more fun guys in the NFL. He’s everything we say we want in a professional athlete. He talks to the media and says what’s on his mind. He shows unscripted emotion on the field. He pumps his fist and flaps his gums. He’s a professional football player, and you can tell how much fun he’s having. ” Oh he’s having fun? Well then, he can do whatever he wants, even if he is disrespecting the opposing team, or at times, his own teammates. At least he’s having fun.

Mike Freeman chimes in on Phillip Rivers with a counter argument to his colleague’s opinion. From a Patriots perspective, keep talking San Diego.

Jerry Crasnick takes a break from all the boring PED talk and checks in with 9 non-Red Sox/Yankees personnel about their choice between Clay Buchholz and Joba Chamberlain. Sox fans won’t be too excited to hear the results, but the chatter between Crasnick and some regional fans is pretty good.

Buster Olney (subscription only) has more non-news on the Johan Santana front, reiterating that at this point, he wouldn’t trade him and would at least enter the season with him as a Twin.

That’s all for today, feel free to shoot me any comments or additional articles that you would like to see in here at [email protected]

Moss Situation Very Strange

Central Florida News-Talk Radio 580 in Orlando reports that Randy Moss has been hit with a “temporary injunction for protection against dating violence.”

The story has been posted and pulled from their web site at least twice last night and this morning. The picture that they posted on Moss appears to have been taken from his arrest back when he was still with the Vikings. It apparently was the only picture they could find of him.

Reporter Rozzie Franco made a bizarre appearance on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan this morning. She staked her claim early, that she was the one who broke this story, and she was hesitant to share any details, telling D&C that they would need to do their own “legwork” on this one.

Mike Reiss has the statement from Moss on this issue, with Moss claiming he “never put my hand on one woman, physically or in an angry manner” in his entire life, and also included the following:

All I know is that it’s a friend of mine, a young lady, it was an accident where she hurt herself, to where they called me, called my attorneys, trying to get X amount of dollars out of me, and if ‘we don’t get X amount of dollars’ they were going to go to the press before this game.

Seems like a pretty strange situation all around. We’ll see where the media takes it. I’m leaning towards them blowing it incredibly out of proportion before all the facts are known, and that all the talk about how this (generated by them) will be a potential distraction for the team this week, and acting as if Moss has already been arrested. Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see.

Respect Not An Issue

Dan Snapp wonders What’s Luck Got To Do With It? when it comes to the Patriots.

Mark Farinella has Bill Belichick and the Patriots pumping up the Chargers, noting their success over the last half of the season. Guregian also has Belichick making a strong case for San Diego in his meetings with his players, making sure they don’t fall for the media portrayals that this is a one-sided matchup. Douglas Flynn has the Patriots killing the Chargers with kindness, extending compliments and acknowledging their success over the second half of the season. Jennifer Toland has Belichick insisting that the Chargers are “a lot better” than they were in the week 2 destruction here at Gillette stadium. Dan Pires says that the Patriots aren’t buying into the hype that this game is a mismatch. Tom King has the Patriots making sure to give the Chargers their due.

Karen Guregian notes that the turnover battle will be crucial on Sunday, as the Patriots are the best team in the NFL at taking care of the football, and the Chargers are the best team in the league at taking the football away from the other team. Robert Lee examines the Patriots roster depth, which has enabled them to survive the injuries that they have suffered this season. David Heuschkel has the Patriots ready for the talk of the Chargers. Christopher Price has the Patriots coaches preaching ball security this week.

Christopher L. Gasper says that Donte’ Stallworth might not be the prototypical Patriot, but he’s still a good fit here. Dan Ventura talks to Stallworth about his catch against the Jaguars and about facing his friends on the Chargers. Chris Kennedy has more on Stallworth, who counts Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips among his friends. Mike Lowe says that Stallworth may have dropped on the Patriots depth chart, but he’s happy to be with a winner.

Jim Donaldson says that the Patriots aren’t as good as most people think they are. John Tomase notes that Rodney Harrison has faced and played well against top tight ends all season long, and will be called upon once again on Sunday to do the same with Antonio Gates. Josh Egerman has Richard Seymour showing signs of getting back to full strength in this, his most difficult NFL season on the field. Teddy Panos says that the Patriots defense is fine and not worth getting worried over.

Tomase says that the Patriots would like to improve their kickoff returns this Sunday, and list some players who might give it a shot. Bill Reynolds says that the Brady vs Peyton debate is over. Price says that the Patriots are aware of the cold weather on tap for Sunday but are more focused on the Chargers. Sarah Green is over the hype and just wants the game to start.

Guregian’s notebook has teammates talking about Tom Brady’s “perfect” leadership qualities. Gasper’s notebook examines further the Patriots ability to hang onto the ball, and how that will be crucial on Sunday. The Projo notebook has the Patriots lauding the Chargers in yesterday’s sessions with the media. Tommy Hine’s notebook in the Courant says that the Patriots mirror their coach in their focus on the Chargers. Toland’s notebook has more on Stallworth. David Brown’s notebook also focuses on Stallworth for starters.

Chargers

Jim McCabe says that the Chargers can draw from the example of the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers, who overcame a tough start to the season and injuries to roar back in the second half of the season and made it to the AFC Title Game. Shalise Manza Young looks at the “intimidating” depth of the Chargers. Eric McHugh notes that it took some time for the Chargers to jell this season, but they came on strong in the second half.

McCabe’s notebook has the Chargers taking some quiet time to recover and plan for the Patriots.

Dan Shaughnessy says that you’re a wimp if you were happy that the Chargers beat the Colts on Sunday. So all the Colts fans were rooting for the Patriots on Saturday night, right?

Elsewhere

The Red Sox are holding a rookie orientation camp over at Boston College, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson are among the attendees. The Celtics focus is on the health of Rajon Rondo’s back, and the Bruins Milan Lucic will be suiting up for the each in the NHL’s YoungStars competition during All Star weekend. Check the links below for all the stories:

RedSoxLinks.com

CelticsLinks.com

BruinsLinks.com

On the BSMW Full Court Press, Tom Lambert says Ray Allen is lot like George Brett. No, really.

Pats Crush TV Competition As Well

Here are the local numbers for WBZ-TV for Saturday Night’s Patriots-Jaguars Divisional Playoff game:

Patriots vs. Jaguars, 8:00 PM…42 HH rating/ 63 share…peaking in the last quarter hour with 45 HH rating/68 HH share…squashing all program competition for that time period.

Patriots 5th Quarter, 11:15 PM-12:15 AM…17 HH rating/ 34 HH share…peaking in the first quarter hour at 24 HH rating/40 HH share…also #1 in that time period.

Nationally the game earned an average national household rating/share of 17.9/30, up 9% from last year’s 16.4/32 for the Indianapolis-Baltimore game on CBS.

The 17.9/30 is the highest rating for a Saturday AFC Divisional game since an 18.2/36 on CBS for the overtime game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets on January 15, 2005.

Saturday night’s Jaguars-Patriots game rating peaked at a 19.0/31 from 10:00-10:30 PM, ET and 10:30-11:00 PM, ET.

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Here is some of the Patriots-related programming coming up this week on NFL Network.

Tonight
8:00 PM – NFL Replay: 2007 AFC Divisional Playoff (Jaguars at Patriots)

Thursday January 17th
8:00 PM – Playbook: Chargers at Patriots preview
8:30 PM – NFL Classics: 2006 AFC Divisional Playoff (Patriots at Chargers)

Friday January 18th
9:00 PM – NFL Legends: Featuring Tom Brady and Brett Favre

Saturday January 19th
12 Noon – NFL Replay: 2006 AFC Divisional Playoff (Patriots at Chargers)
2:30 PM – NFL Classics: San Diego at New England (2007 Week 2)
5:30 PM – Playbook: Chargers at Patriots preview

Sunday January 20th
11:00 AM – Playbook: Chargers at Patriots preview
11:30 AM – Playbook: Giants at Packers preview
12 Noon – Playbook: Championship Sunday special
12:30 PM – NFL Total Access (Special 2 ½ Hour Championship Preview Edition)

Comcast Sportsnet’s Expanded Patriots Coverage

Comcast SportsNet will begin a second week of comprehensive Patriots coverage with Road to Perfection specials beginning on Wednesday and special post game coverage of the Patriots-Chargers game on Sunday.

One-hour, nightly Road to Perfection specials on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday headline CSN’s expanded coverage. The nightly specials, hosted by Michael Felger and Gary Tanguay, will feature exclusive reports from San Diego by CSN’s Lance Crawford; national football analyst Brian Baldinger; and player insight from former Patriots tight-end Christian Fauria.

In addition to the nightly specials, CSN will also host a one-hour post game show immediately following the Patriots-Chargers game. Road to Perfection Post Game Edition will be hosted by veteran CSN personality Greg Dickerson.

CSN’s Road to Perfection coverage is also expected to feature regular football contributors Andy Gresh, Michael Holley, Tom Curran, John Tomase, Don Banks, Paul Perillo, Steve DeOssie, Fred Smerlas and Scott Zolak.

Two More Celtics Games on ABC

In addition to the Patriots, we’ve also got an update on a couple of Celtics telecast changes.

Two scheduling adjustments will add the Boston Celtics, the team with the best record in the NBA, to the ABC broadcast lineup. ABC will broadcast the Celtics against the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard Sunday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m. (replacing Phoenix at Chicago). Additionally, ABC will feature the Celtics when they host San Antonio and Tim Duncan Sunday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. The Celtics/Spurs contest will swap broadcast windows with Denver at Cleveland (originally scheduled on ABC; now to be aired on ESPN at 7 p.m.). ESPN Radio will also broadcast both Celtics games.

The Celtics are also on the ESPN schedule Friday, Feb. 8, when the Kevin Garnett faces his former Minnesota team at 8 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 22, when they visit the Phoenix Suns and Steve Nash at 10:30 p.m.

Patriots Charged Up, Celtics Not So Much

On Patriots Daily this morning, Christopher Price looks at how Junior Seau has stepped into the number 55 in New England and become a huge part of the team on the field, but also in the locker room. He also has key things to look for this week against the Chargers.

Gerry Callahan wonders whether the Chargers should even bother showing up on Sunday, since this matchup is so lopsided in his eyes. I wonder if there was an article like this written in Indy last week….

Mike Reiss talks to Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith, former NFL coach Dennis Green and Chiefs special teams coach Mike Priefer about the Patriots/Chargers matchup. Karen Guregian consults with Texans QB Sage Rosenfels, former NFL player and current CBS analyst Randy Cross and former NFL tackle and current Sirius analyst Tim Ryan about the matchup. They seem to believe that the Chargers have a shot at slowing down the Patriots offense. Ron Hobson says that the Patriots defense needs to clean up its act against San Diego.

John Tomase talks with former Patriots backup QB Damon Huard about how the Chargers are a different team now then they were early in the season when the Patriots beat them. Douglas Flynn says that it might be something of a mystery over which Chargers team we’ll see on Sunday. John Powers has the Chargers confident after their upset of the Colts. Robert Lee has the Patriots excited to be playing in the AFC championship game. David Heuschkel has Randy Moss hoping to take advantage of a second chance to reach a Super Bowl. Jennifer Toland has Wes Welker coming off a pretty memorable first-ever playoff game. Dan Pires has Ellis Hobbs calm as he prepares to play against a team that had some harsh words for him last season.

Reiss also has the Chargers looking forward to avenging their worst loss of the season, which took place in week two at Gillette. Jeff Horrigan has the Patriots defense confident despite giving up a number of long drives against Jacksonville. Tomase has some thumbnails of what he calls one of the league’s most underrated defenses in San Diego. Josh Egerman talks to Wareham grad Stephen Cooper, who is coming home this weekend, but will be all business. Glen Farley says that there is definitely a history between these two teams. Price has Donte Stallworth happy to have been able to make a contribution against the Jaguars.

Dan Duggan has a quick look at the Chargers super-subs who stepped in for their stars and led San Diego to the upset of the Colts. Shalise Manza Young examines some of the contentious history between the Chargers and Patriots. Ian M. Clark has his Patriots report card for the Jaguars game. All offensive positions receive an “A”, all defense and special teams a “C.” Eric McHugh also has a report card for the Patriots. Bill Burt says that Peyton Manning is officially second fiddle to Tom Brady. David Brown examines the Patriots history of success at home in the playoffs, where they are 6-0 at Gillette Stadium.

The Manchester Union Leader talks to the 14-year-old girl who was honored at the Colts game on Sunday as a winner of the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass & Kick title for her age division, and who was booed by Colts fans because she had a Patriots jersey on. Ken Stejbach of Seacoast Online also talks to the poised young girl.

Reiss’ notebook has some injury updates on the Chargers.

Celtics

The Celtics are officially in a mini-slump, having dropped two in a row to the Wizards and three of four overall. Steve Bulpett has the Wizards slapping the Celtics in the face as they came back from a 14 point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Celtics. Marc J. Spears has the Celtics going from phenomenal to mortal in the course of a week. Scott Souza has the new-look, scrappy and defensive minded Wizards giving the Celtics fits for the second straight game. Bill Doyle has the Celtics no longer playing like the NBA’s best team. Jeff Howe has the Celtics having a hard time getting things right recently.

Mark Murphy has Kevin Garnett ready to get things fixed for the Celtics. Peter May looks at the Celtics struggles thus far in 2008, and puts a lot of the blame on the injury to Rajon Rondo. Tony Massarotti says that this little slump will test the Celtics character. Lenny Megliola says that the back-to-back losses are reason to worry for the Celtics. Jeff Clark says that defense is the key to this Celtics team. Kevin Henkin tries to keep things in perspective. May also looks at the case of Joakim Noah, who was suspended by his own teammates. He recalls some other times that sort of thing has happened, including with the 1980′s Celtics. Henkin also puts out a request for help.

Bulpett’s notebook has Danny Ainge open to adding to his roster, but not willing to make any panic moves in reaction to the mini-slump. Spears’ notebook has Rondo back in uniform last night, but hampered by his sore back. Doyle’s notebook has Ray Allen struggling a bit to define his role playing alongside Garnett and Paul Pierce.

For the Bruins and Red Sox, you can check these links for the latest news:

BruinsLinks.com

RedSoxLinks.com

Upset Sunday In NFL Playoffs

The Patriots have their opponent for this week’s AFC Title Game at Gillette Stadium, and it will not be the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning and company were stunned yesterday by the undermanned San Diego Chargers, who showed grit and guts many didn’t think they had.

With LaDainian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers going down with knee injuries in the course of the game, it was up to Michael Turner and Billy Volek to take their places in the Chargers offense, and they acquitted themselves quite well. John Powers in the Globe reports from Indy on the upset. Jim McCabe has reaction from the Colts locker room following the loss, and Powers’ notebook has both Tomlinson and Rivers saying that they’ll be ready to go this week against the Patriots.

Michael Felger has his Patriots Report Card for the Jaguars game.

Christopher L. Gasper says that this Patriots team was built to beat the Colts…but now they won’t have to. Karen Guregian says that Patriots/Chargers will have no shortage of bad blood and sparks between the two clubs. Mark Farinella has Bill Belichick’s reaction on playing the Chargers this week instead of the Colts. Shalise Manza Young says that there will be no shortage of subplots for this week’s AFC Championship. Douglas Flynn looks at San Diego getting a second chance to do what no team has been able to do this season – beat the Patriots.

Tony Massarotti says that it is a major letdown for the Colts not to be coming here this week. He assumes all fans feel the same, that they were disappointed that San Diego upset the Colts. That’s the difference between media thinking and fan thinking. Massarotti, like his media brethren wants “the story” – whatever is going to make for the best story is what they want to happen. Fans want whatever is going to give their team a better shot to win. I’m not saying that the Chargers are going to be an easier game this week, but many – myself included – were wary of playing the Colts. Mazz is right about one thing: It would’ve been a hell of a game. But I think the Chargers will provide just as much competition, and plenty of storylines to keep everyone happy this week. At least he didn’t go to the point of the old baseball mindset “The championship doesn’t mean as much if you don’t beat the Yankees on the way there.” Substituting the Colts for the Yankees of course…

Bob Ryan says that the last two months have shown that each week’s opponent has brought their “A” game to play the Patriots, but the Patriots have managed to answer each time. He says this week should be no different. John Tomase says that the Patriots route to Arizona just got a whole lot easier. Tomase also gives us a thumbnail view of the Chargers. David Heuschkel has the road to the Super Bowl taking a slightly different route for the Patriots now that the Colts have been eliminated. Lenny Megliola has the Chargers changing the script at the 11th hour. Christopher Price has more from Belichick on facing the Chargers.

Farinella has Rodney Harrison feeling that the Patriots might’ve been a little too fired up to start their game with the Jaguars. He also notes that the Jags focus on Randy Moss opened the way for other receivers on Saturday night. Chris Kennedy has Bill Belichick saying that they will start from scratch in their preparations for the Chargers, as things are much different since that meeting back in September. Dan Lamothe over at Eye on Foxborough has the video of the Tom Brady trick play from Saturday night. Ian M. Clark has Tom Brady again raising his game to a new level on Saturday night. Rich Garven has the Patriots patience paying off in the end on Saturday. David Brown has Donte Stallworth catching heat from his teammates for not taking his reception the distance on Saturday night.

Guregian’s notebook has Stallworth bursting back onto the scene Saturday night after having become the forgotten man as of late. Gasper’s notebook has turnovers being the key to the win over the Jags. Garven’s notebook has the Chargers coming into the AFC championship as the winner of eight straight games.

Elsewhere

The other teams in Boston are certainly not forgotten this snowy morning in Boston. The Bruins are coming off of a 4-3 OT win over the Flyers on Saturday night, while the Celtics are in their first mini-slump of the season, having lost two out of three for the first time this season. Check the stories below:

CelticsLinks.com

BruinsLinks.com

RedSoxLinks.com