Do They Make The Grade?

Last week the likes of Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti and Gary Tanguay (not to mention Dakota from Braintree) told us that the Falcons were an undefeated offensive juggernaut that would shred the Patriots defense all day long.

After listening some yesterday, apparently the Falcons were nothing but a flawed, dome NFC team that couldn’t play in the rain. The real beating will come this Sunday when the Ravens fly into town and run roughshod over the Patriots.

So how did the experts grade the performance against the Falcons? The aforementioned Michael Felger is almost gushing in his praise of the Patriots, especially the defense. The toughest grade is a “C” for Tom Brady. Is this really the same guy I hear trashing the Patriots every single day on 98.5? Ron Borges ia a little rough on the linebackers, giving them a “C-” while the QB and receivers each get a “C+”. All other grades are “A’s” and “B’s”. On Patriots Daily, Jeremy Gottlieb has a “C” for the quarterback and a “C+” for the receivers. Steve DeOssie is surprised by the defense, and hands out “A’s” and “B’s” across the board.

Shalise Manza Young had the first report I saw that the North Attleboro police were investigating “an incident involving a Patriots player” who was the victim of a home invasion. That player was thought to be Jonathan Wilhite. Monique Walker and Christopher L. Gasper have more on the story in the Globe today. David Linton reports on what Wilhite told police.

Ian R. Rapoport reports that Vince Wilfork has a sprained left ankle, and that the injury is not thought to be a long term problem.

Rapoport says that one way that the Patriots keep opponents off balance is by changing game plans each week. Glen Farley says that the Ravens will give the Patriots a much tougher test. Brian MacPherson is impressed bu the Patriots defense in the early going. Christopher Price looks at how Brandon McGowan has become a sparkplug on defense for the Patriots. Rich Garven has the Patriots able to get the job done on defense despite injuries.

Karen Guregian says that Fred Taylor made a statement with his play on Sunday. Tim Weisberg says that the breakout game from Taylor was welcomed by his teammates and coaches. Price says that Taylor is up for the challenge of being the lead back. Young looks at the risky fourth down play on Sunday that paid off for the Patriots. Farley has more on Belichick’s faith on fourth down Sunday.

Rapoport’s notebook mentions the Wilhite incident. Gasper’s notebook says that Taylor wouldn’t mind grabbing the lead role at running back. Young’s Patriots Journal says that Wilfork’s injured ankle isn’t believed to be serious.

Red Sox

The Red Sox couldn’t clinch their postseason berth last night, as they were swamped by the Toronto Blue Jays, 11-5in a rain-shortened game last night. The Rangers lost to the Angels tonight, so the Red Sox clinched at least a tie for the wild card. They can clinch the postseason berth with a win tonight or another Rangers loss.

Nick Cafardo has Michael Bowden getting the start in place of Josh Beckett last night, and getting hit hard. John Tomase says the Red Sox have the chance to clinch tonight in front of their own fans. Ron Chimelis has the Blue Jays keeping the Red Sox celebration on ice for another night. Jeff Goldberg has the Sox struggling without Josh Beckett last night. Bill Ballou has the Sox playing another Fall Training game. Kevin McNamara has the Sox leaving fans feeling empty and wet last night. Ken Lechtanski has the champagne on ice for another night.

Sean McAdam says that this week is about getting rested and healthy. Rob Bradford looks at how worried we should be about the Red Sox injuries. Howard Bryant has David Ortiz able to rebound from a horrible start this season, but the PED issue still lingers. Chimelis says that we shouldn’t take the consistently winning Red Sox for granted. Joe McDonald has the Sox playing without Beckett last night, while Jon Lester feels better. Mike Fine has the Red Sox juggling things in preparation for October.

Michael Vega has Dustin Richardson waking up in Florida yesterday, and ending the night making his major league debut for the Red Sox. Brian MacPherson looks at how the Red Sox are dealing with the setbacks to their two aces. Joe Haggerty say that the Red Sox have no panic over their health woes. Pedro Gomez has Manny Delcarmen making some progress in his outing last night.

McAdam reports that J.P. Ricciardi could be in jeopardy of losing his job in Toronto. Bill Reynolds says that for the Yankees, it’s win it all or bust.

Cafardo’s notebook says that the news is optimistic on Beckett and Jon Lester for their next starts. Tomase’s notebook looks at Beckett getting scratched last night with back spasms.  Chimelis’ notebook has more on Beckett getting scratched. Ballou’s notebook has Beckett and Mike Lowell getting some rest last night. Goldberg’s notebook has Jon Lester feeling better. The Projo Red Sox Journal has Lowell getting a shot of of both Synvisc and cortisone yesterday to prepare for the postseason.

Celtics media day links coming in separate post.