Patriots As Confusing As Ever, As Pursuit Of Top Seed Continues

The Patriots can clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win over Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Despite obvious flaws and injuries that would cripple other teams, the Patriots continue to pull out victories, even when they dig themselves a deep hole.

What does January hold for the New England Patriots? No one has that answer right now.

Making The Grades – Dolphins at Patriots - Jeremy Gottlieb is worried/anxious/disappointed following this win. Other report cards: Ron Borges | ESPN Boston | Hector Longo | Boston.com

Holding their own - Greg A Bedard looks at the adjustments made to the Miami blitz by Bill O’Brien and the Patriots offense.

Pats take lumps of coal and deliver gold - Mike Reiss has some words of wisdom that I sorely wish some around here would take to heart.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick Ruin Christmas With Comeback and Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts - I enjoy looking through Michael Hurley’s rambling Patriots thoughts columns.

A major plus for Pats ‘D’ - Karen Guregian says that the saving grace for the defense is turnovers.

Top priority is home field, but Bills loss lingers - Michael Whitmer says that the Patriots have some unfinished business with the Bills, who have already been chirping about sweeping New England. The Herald notebook from Karen Guregian has Stevan Ridley emerging as the crunch-time back.

Celtics, Heat resume legit rivalry - Chris Forsberg has the Celtics and Heat getting their first look at each other tonight. Gary Washburn and Steve Bulpett have the Heat humbled and focused this season.

Celtics following a familiar script - Bill Reynolds says that this is the early 90′s all over again.

Mike Boyle a good fit with Sox - John Tomase looks at the Red Sox new de facto strength and conditioning coach.

Travel plans for Bruins - Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins wrapping up their holiday break.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Since this came out after Bruce wrote it, thanks to @Rapsheet:

    Logan Mankins update: I'm told #Patriots guard suffered a sprained MCL. Will keep him out Sunday, hoping to return for playoffs

    Patriots guard Logan Mankins will not need surgery — thank the knee brace he was wearing for that. He will miss Sunday

    (about 12:20PM today)

    Hope this is good news.. thankfully, we have the bye

  • latetodinner

    A few Boston Sports Media Thoughts on this day after the day after the day I eat Chinese food and then go to a movie.

    1) Is it me or does Mike Reiss have a bit of an edge to him especially when he talks about the Jets. From today's column:

    "In a league where a loose-lipped coach can guarantee a Super Bowl victory and then have his team on the brink of not even making the playoffs, Bill Belichick puts his head down and pushes the right buttons for a ninth division title in 11 years."

    2) Steve Buckley on WEEI for 4 hours in the big chair is nails on a chalkboard to me. I can't listen to him. He says dumb things for the sake of saying dumb things, the stories just get to me, and then there is the "all about Buck" moments. I can't listen which is bad because he is all about long form story reporting and delving deep into a story. He is a case where the messenger definitely affects the message.

    3) The Celtics coverage is going to be interesting this year. Will it become harsh when the team stumbles but makes it into the playoffs only to go out in the first or second round or will the old guys be celebrated for the grit and tenacity. Will Jeff Green's injury be compared to Len Bias' death and how the future never really got to play with the past.

    4) The Bruins at least are proving me wrong this year. Monster numbers during the last 25 games. I expected apathy. I admit I was wrong. I still think no one cares about hockey but clearly there are a lot of no ones watching these B's.

    5) Lastly, so I have been listening to Dale Arnold all week in the morning drive show day in and day out work great shows regardless of partner. Bob Ryan, Chris Mannix it does not matter. I have spent too much time hand wringing over how poorly WEEI treated Dale. Why he is willing to do fill in duty during the holidays when he has clearly earned the right to the time off should tell a potential new boss all they need to know about his love of the talk radio format. If I were the program director of a rival station in the Boston market and I counted the Boston Bruins as one of the two premiere properties I own the broadcast rights to and if I knew a lot of people do not like the midday pairing because they can't stand Andy Gresh…I would seriously consider throwing some good money at Dale Arnold to team him with Scott Zolak. It would be an excellent pairing and it would allow Zolak to shake his "yahoo" reputation and become more serious as he ascends to the Pats radio booth. Since I am not said program director, perhaps he is listening and willing to consider bring quality programming to his airwaves for at least 4 hours a day.

    • Doc Michaels

      You didn't mention Minihane in your Buckley comment ltd. I don't know who Minihane knows to continually generate these co-hosting gigs, but he does not — at least to my ears — remotely resemble a guy who can carry himself on the radio. His monotone (and at times inaudible) delivery is grating, he doesn't come off as having a sense of humor, he barely cracks a smile (at least when I saw him filling in for D&C on NESN last week), he is relentlessly glum in his presentation and seems completely narcissistic…it's as if he doesn't even want to be there. Maybe he's a good guy and a decent writer — I haven't paid enough attention to him to know in the latter regard — but he sure doesn't make a good impression on the radio. In fact he's absolutely awful, and whoever paired him with Buckley for this "holiday vacation" stint on EEI ought to have their head examined. They are horrific together, pure and simple. Buckley, though, can be alright when paired with the right host IMO, but Minihane does not bring out the best in anybody.

      • latetodinner

        Doc…I did not mention Minihane because I have already spent enough time acknowledging that he sucks. I am not convinced he can write and he clearly does not have the people skills to drive decent talk radio discussion. He is way too young and lacking knowledge to come off as arrogant and condescending as he does. His sense of entitlement is unnerving and undeserved.

        Still even with Minihane as part of that pairing it was Buckley that got to me. Has to tell you how much he grated on me.

      • bostonsportsmediafan

        Couldn't agree more on Doc's post. All points here since I've seen him twice on NESN. The most salient point was "didn't want to be there" where I could not agree more. When you compare him (visual or audio) to Dale, he was the diametric opposite. Dale's performance reminded me of how the coaches are (Mangini) on ESPN where they clearly are auditoning for other jobs (not that this is bad) but showing the viewers and listeners why he deserves another show.

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      1.) But what a nice/clean way for a journalist to basically flip the bird? I thought it was creative

      2.) Noticed the same when he was filling in on some WEEI station. This "vacation time" is when you really see who should or should not be on. D+C has mixed Bob Ryan/Mannix/Dale Arnold. Please keep doing so. DA was on sportshub today and I was forced to listen to him returning back home. The "frat boi" attitude, along with the monotone voice (seen in the comments) is really annoying. I had enough trouble to get non-music on but even the company in my car asked if that was his voice (which they hated) or if he was impersonating someone.

      5.) Touched on above but heavily agree. WEEI, want to get back your #1 morning slot instead of slugging along at #4? Mannix/Ryan/Arnold, or a mixture there. Not a fan of T+R so my options are ESPN/FOXSports. Dale Arnold + Zolak would be interesting. One would think SportsHub would be an upgrade for him stuck at WEEI.

      —-

      Beatle has a good voice for fill-ins and nothing else. It was challenging to hear him beyond every 20 minutes. Wiggens… he's fine for breaking something down but 4 hours of him is not very good. He's not very articulate and does much of the same where it's "let me tell you how it is from the field" — you have to listen because you didn't play and I did. Get him talking off of football and it's a minefield. One hour max, please.

      —-

      Bruce (@bruceallen) tweeted out, ""Caller, they went 14-2 and had a first round bye last year, how'd that work out for them????" I expect to hear a lot of that next
      3 weeks." — yeah, it's annoying. It's even worse when you get fans who are not Pats fans. I'd hope that the call screeners at various radio stations tone this down. There's a way to have this discussion but it can easily get out of control.

      On a positive note, with all of the guest hosts and "downtime" between Pats games, Felger seems to come up with interesting topics. Obviously, last night, Brees broke Marino's record and you could spend 30 minutes talking about the scripted radio call (every station did), or talk about the factors that help favor QBs. He had a great stat that in the 40 years of the NFL, only 22 QBs had reached 4500 yards. This year alone, there are 6! So, look for someone like a Cam Newton and the usual suspects to probably break this record. I am not sure if it's Felger or his programming staff, but love or hate him, I commend the effort to NOT talk about the usual topics and it seems to work even with the callers who stay on topic.

  • George Cain

    Late for Dinner, anything that bring less Andy Gresh to the table I am in favor of.

    Hector Longo, "who is this guy." Don't mind the negativity with the Patriots. But he's way off on content. He's wrong about the amount of blitzes the Dolphins had in the 2nd half, he's wrong about Mayo and he writes like a fan not a a writer.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    I guess the "lets panic about something" is a news topic. WEEI with Tom Curran + Chris Mannix is leading off with "0-2 = panic time?"

    Bruce predicted this last night:

    @bruceallen Really Bob Neumeier? Leading off SportsNet Central on CSNNE by asking if it is time to push the panic button – two games into the season?

    Thankfully, Chris Mannix is able to talk rationally about it.

    In positive news, 8 Patriots to the Pro Bowl: http://t.co/CKVIl728
    (thanks @MikeReiss)

    • latetodinner

      I want to play devil's advocate for a second on the Celtics coverage and I touched on this a bit in my first post. I think it is time to panic on the Celtics…not because they are 0-2 but because without Jeff Green and a second big they clearly do not have the horses this year. So the question becomes what are reasonable expectations. If the fans know going into the season there is no chance at a championship why will they watch? The only intrigue becomes guessing what Danny can do to fix this going forward. I think topics like trading Ray Allen or trading Kevin Garnett or trading Rajon Rondo are all fair game. Likewise discussing these things needs to be done with a sense of urgency because if Danny waits too long he has 1989 all over again with the Celtics looking at 10 years of mediocrity and irrelevance again. The risk to this type of sports chat is that it gets old fast. Furthermore it can make the fans almost apathetic to the games beign played but if the Celtics only play 500 ball then the fans are going to be either disinterested or worse wearing black and gold all winter.

  • dan

    I think Dale should get his old job back as the voice of the New England Patriots.
    Pair him up with Zolak in the booth.
    I think it's so sad to see the former voice of the Bruins on NESN having to be just a studio guy while there is a buffoon in his old chair.

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