We’re Almost There – Honestly!

We’re finally on Friday, on the cusp of the weekend, and closer to the kickoff of Patriots/Jets on Sunday at 4:30.

I’ll get this out of the way first, and I’m embarrassed about it.

This game concerns me. Greatly.

To me, this has the makings of an “exorcise the demons” type of game for the Jets. You’ve got the historically disappointing Jets coming off having their doors blown off by the Patriots a month ago. You’ve got Mark Sanchez and LaDainian Tomlinson, who have struggled mightily at Gillette Stadium, among others, getting a chance to atone for poor performances here in the past.

Sanchez has not looked good for much of the season, and he’s been horrible in two games at Gillette (1TD, 7 INT) but he’s been very good in the clutch this season. Could he be clutch for an entire game? I think he has the potential to have a good game here.

My lasting image of LT - besides telling reporters how classy he is – is from the 2007 AFC Championship with him sitting on the bench in a parka, helmet on. He also has a chance for redemption against a franchise that he despises.

The Jets have guys who have burned the Patriots in the past – Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, Jason Taylor. Could the Jet offense control the ball enough that the Patriots offense’s opportunities are limited? Can their defense hold the Patriots down in those limited opportunities? Tougher, but not out of the question. It seems like most people have pretty much conceded the game to the Patriots, but even that concerns me.

I hesistate to type this, but there is almost a 2004 Red Sox feel to these Jets, a loud, obnoxious group of idiots, who are looking to finally break through against a traditionally superior opponent.

Please. Tell me I’m stupid and way off base with this. I’ll feel better. If I’m wrong on Sunday, no one will be happier than me.

Alright. I’ll exhale now. It’s off my chest. Onto a few links:

Where the Coaches Let Their Guard Down, a Bit – From Richard Sandomir in the NY Times, a look at the pregame production meetings, with several broadcasters talking about how helpful and pleasant Bill Belichick is in these meetings. One says he can be even more forthcoming than Rex Ryan at times.

ESPN saves worst for BCS’ biggest game – On the second page of Phil Mushnick’s media column is this gem:

Who made the worst knee-jerk call in the history of modern sportscasting? Funny you should ask. One could logically guess Mike Francesa, given that he has made so many, but the title belongs to a more likable fellow, ESPN NFL studio analyst Tom Jackson.

After the Patriots opened the 2003 season with a 31-0 loss to the Bills, Jackson firmly, knowingly declared that “Bill Belichick has lost this team.”

The Patriots went 14-1 the rest of the way, won the Super Bowl, went 14-2 the next season, and, well, since Jackson’s claim, Belichick’s Patriots are 113-29.

Nice legacy.

In ratings game, NFL scoring lopsided win – Chad Finn’s media column looks at record numbers for the NFL this season.

Boston’s Morning Sports Talk Shows Are All A-Twitter – My SB Nation Boston media column looks at the Twitter antics of Boston sports radio morning shows.

Patriots’ winning ways put Spygate hand-wringing to rest – Mike Freeman says that Spygate was tremendously overrated.

SpyGate: The Most ‘Overblown’ Story of the Decade – Russ Goldman on Patsfans.com has a very good column on this subject as well, with quotes from Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, and the Jets blogger who first broke the videotaping story.

Tuning In: Ryan’s hope is fading – Bill Doyle’s media column has CBS analysts scratching their heads over Rex’s antics this week.

Doubters abound, but Meriweather unquestionably makes an impact – Shalise Manza Young has a look at the Patriot that New England fans love to hate, safety Brandon Meriweather.

Green-Ellis finds yards almost every time – Ian Rapoport has some eye-popping stats on the production of BenJarvus Green-Ellis this season.

A year later, things are different for Vince Wilfork – Christopher Price looks at how far things have come in one year for the Patriots and their massive defensive lineman.

Among Kraft moves, coach gets top billing – Bob Ryan looks at Robert Kraft’s best move – hiring Bill Belichick.

Heat turned way up for rivalry game -  Tedy Bruschi and Mike Reiss break down the game on Sunday.

Patriots-Jets: How they match up – Karen Guregian examines the matchups.

Leigh Bodden still on corner – Rapoport’s notebook has the injured veteran corner enjoying the success of his teammates. The Globe notebook from Monique Walker has a look at Wes Welker’s comments yesterday. The Patriots Journal by Robert Lee and Brian MacPherson has Brandon Spikes a bit rusty in his return to practice this week.

Check out coverage of the Bruins 7-5 win last night over the Flyers at BruinsLinks.com.

Nice clip from Quick Slants last night – Tom E Curran with a nice jab at himself and his fellow media types for acting  “like fourth-graders” this week:

  • gabe

    You need to chill out. This is the Patriots…you're reading into things way too much. First off, it's a sin to compare this Jets team to that Red Sox team. The '04 Red Sox were fun loving and not obnoxious, they didn't make brash predictions and grab headlines for the wrong reasons (except Nomar, who was traded)…they just played ball. Secondly, maybe people have conceded the game to the Pats…but not the Pats themselves, you can guarantee that. Fact is, we have the most game ready coach ever on our side and one of the best QBs ever. The Pats haven't always won (obviously the football gods were against us at SB 42), but after 10 years if those two don't leave you with some sense of security, I'm not sure what to tell you.

  • APS

    Dude you are stupid and way off base with that. Games are the outcome of performance in competition, not post hoc (or pre hoc) narrative. That was the lesson of the 04 Sox (and all the Pats titles too)

  • Dinos3rdChine

    I'm only "ascared" because all of the "experts" are picking the Patriots

  • DougM

    Bruce, I don't write off any NFL team because I believe literally anything can happen in the game.I respect the Jets offensive weapons. What gives me some comfort though is that the Jets backed into the playoffs and barely defeated an injury plagued Colts team. The Patriots seem to be getting better as the season progresses. I think they are clicking on all cylinders and are not taking the Jets lightly. Belichick has also had too much time to prepare. Finally the Jets are having trouble with TE's and will have serious match up problems.Cromartie is just not that good. Dilfer thinks Brady is going to rain hell on the Jets due to trash talk.

  • CCA

    Bruce, you're stupid … and way off base with this. ; )

    This is a byproduct of the media hype surrounding the Jets. After the SB lose to the Giants I'll never be as confident about the Pats in the playoffs as I used to be, and I'm worried this team (the defense especially) is headed for an upset, but I don't see it being at the hands and feet (*rimshot*) of the Jets. Barring the wheels falling off, that would take Sanchez outplaying Brady and Rex outcoaching Belichick, and our (huge) advantage in those two matchups pretty much prevent the wheels falling off. Also, Woody is out Spikes is back in, Sanchez sucks (clutch digging of of holes he dug his team into), and the Jets need to run to beat us.

    I started the week scared of the hype and my own arrogance, but screw it, I'm going with what I know: We mop the field with these big talking, no account chumps.

  • Paul of Fox

    Bruce,
    I know this isn't exactly a "Boston" sports story (being Western Mass.), but I thought you'd like to read this column by Scott Coen of The Republican about how he prefers Rex Ryan over Bill Belichick:
    http://www.masslive.com/mywideworld/index.ssf/201

    Basically, he pretty much confirms what we've all thought, that the media wants Rex Ryan-types so as to make their jobs easier. "I always find myself wanting for more when Bill Belichick leaves the interview room. Come on coach, give me something we can work with here." – Coen

  • Glen

    Bruce- I'm with everyone else here- The irrational, superstitious part of my brain is nervous because everyone is saying the Pats can't lose, but from a rational standpoint, there are just too many real facts that say New England comes out on top.

  • Pip

    Bruce, take a look ahead. You are mistaken if you think this game is the end of the trash-talk and non-game related football stories. If the Pats win, we get the winner of the Bal-Pitt. Two teams known more for their mouths and off-field nonsense. Then if we get past them we get the SB and 2 weeks of spygate and replays of the Giants in SB 42. This week was only the beginning of a nightmare post-season. Part of me will be relieved if they lose, but I can't wait for them to shut everyone up.

  • Lance_

    I thought the Jets deserved to win last week and they played some pretty good ball, except Sanchez. Seeing him constantly throw the ball five yards over the heads of his receivers was some bad QB play. And the fact they were playing in a dome made me realize/think that there's no way this guy is going to play well in the elements at Gillette.

    As with all things New York, there's an awful lot of hype and any and all talent is exaggerated. To me the most telling sign was Welker's foot-conference yesterday; clearly this is a very prepared team that's confident and relaxed. Not worried at all.

  • JohnnyApps

    I agree Bruce. The media and fans were over confident in 2007 against the Giants and are over confident now. I can see the Jets driving down the field in putting up a quick 7 to open the game, then maybe a disasterous Brady pick 6 or a fumble return for a touchdown could make it 14-0….then the Jets run the ball the rest of the game. I think the Pats will win, but by no means is this be an easy win. The Jets can definitely win this game if they are able to get a lead early. Sanchez has the potential to do some damage. I also agree with your 2004 Red Sox reference.

  • Mike

    I like to think of it as more of a 2003 Red Sox feel: A good team with some issues that takes the superior team right to the brink… and then loses it in the end.

    (Let's not discuss what that implies for next season.)

  • latetodinner

    "Idiot Boston Sports Fans". – Mo Vaughn

    "thanks Mo" – Glenn Ordway

  • Classless

    I don't think the Pats will lose, but if they do, we will NEVER hear the end of it.

    • Jon

      Great. I was hoping to hear the end of this. Sigh. …

  • JohnnyApps

    wow. so all of you over confident people thought it was stupid to think the jets could win???
    these are some of the comments from last week from over confident Pats fans:

    "You need to chill out. This is the Patriots…you're reading into things way too much".

    "there are too many real facts that support New England coming out on top"

    "clearly this (the Pats) is a very prepared team that's confident and relaxed. Not worried at all."

    "And the fact they were playing in a dome made me realize/think that there's no way this guy (Sanchez) is going to play well in the elements at Gillette."

    I hate over confidence!!!!! Enough Pats fans. Can we learn from previous big playoff game losses and stop under estimating teams like the Jets??!

  • Mike

    Dude, you were right.

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