New Outshines the Old

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here.)

“I don’t play for Minnesota anymore; I’m in Boston,” Those were the words of Kevin Garnett after he ran triumphantly around the court holding up the front of his jersey for the crowd to see.

The ’06-’07 Celtics stepped onto the hardwood at the TD BankNorth Garden to take on the ’07-’08 Celtics last night. Former Celtics Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, and Gerald Green, who were shipped to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Garnett, nearly pulled off a huge upset. The Celtics who looked rather sluggish for a majority of the night nearly fell to the league’s worst team. Garnett who briefly left the game in the middle of the 4th quarter with an abdominal injury, returned to the bench and decided not to err on the side of caution, a la LDT, deciding to come back and play last night after the team’s trainer told him otherwise. Garnett ultimately put the nail in the coffin of his old team when he stole the ball from Telfair with 1.8 seconds left, sealing a 87-86 victory and pushing the C’s NBA best record to 34-7. Over in the Herald Mark Murphy describes last night’s contest to the meeting of an ex-spouse and a current spouse. Bob Ryan tells us that the Celtics essentially pulled off a Brady last night in winning a game that they did not deserve. Last night’s game brought some friendly competition to close friends Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins. Antoine Walker was another former Celtic on the floor last night, he describes his situation as he plays for the league’s worst team.

Patriots

As the buildup to Super Bowl XLII mounts, the angst of the Patriot fanbase mounts. Where is Tom Brady? The collective hopes of this Patriot nation are lying in the wings, our star quarterback injured and missing from practice for TWO days, what are we going to do. Is it possible that Matt Casel may have to lead the Patriots when they step onto the field at the University of Phoenix stadium to take on the team of destiny, the New York Giants? As one fine gentleman told me at the gym the other day “this is all just a plan”. According to this guy “Belichick has this thing all planned out, he wants to catch the Giants sleeping”. Really? Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes lies the truth about this “BootGate”. Mike Reiss sits down with an orthopedic surgeon to describe exactly what is a “high ankle sprain”, in the meantime there’s quarterback controversy brewing in the Pats locker room. After staring at the arrangement of clothes and cleats in Brady’s locker, Karen Guregian sits down with Brady’s longtime passing coach and mechanics guru Tom Martinez to get his take on this “mess”.

According to a source of the boys at Cold Hard Football Facts, Brady sprained his ankle during practice BEFORE the AFC Championship Game. Also, he was sporting a 101-degree fever. Take it for what it is but it does lend some credence to Brady’s “shaky” performance last Sunday.

Even with Vrabel gone, Felgie had the opportunity to speak with Pats Pro Bowl tackle Matt Light, Light responded to the recent comments made claiming he was a dirty player. Osi Umenyiora checks back in with some more comments about Matt Light, also saying that “If they put on their bulletin board that I called Matt Light a dirty player, if they need that for motivation, then they’re in the wrong game.” Osi says he was mainly trying to bring light (no pun intended) to the fact that the Patriots are a “dirty” team. Speaking of dirty, Vince Wilfork continues to throw fuel to the fire of those who call him “dirty”. The league made another deduction from his earnings this week, this time for attempting to decapitate Chargers running back Michael Turner. Tony Massarotti has something to say about everyone in the league crying that the Patriots are being “dirty”. Keeping with the big guy in the trenches theme, Michael Vega has Bill Belichick discussing the play of center Dan Koppen

There’s no quarterback controversy on the opposing sideline as baby brother Eli Manning has played mistake free football thus far in the playoffs. Belichick was asked to compare the Manning siblings. Ralph Vacchiano in the NY Daily News has big brother Peyton saying that this will not be Eii’s only trip to the Super Bowl. In case it is, Peyton is now trying to buy up as many tickets as possible for his brother’s “super” appearance.

Seeing shades of the “Tyra Banks Show” fat suit experiment, a Globe scribe dressed up in full Giants garb and hit the streets of Boston. What resulted was a “surprising” reaction.

As always, be sure to head over to the best Patriots blog on the web, Patriots Daily for all the rest of your Patriots coverage.

Red Sox

The Red Sox were able to come to terms with Kyle Snyder signing him to a one-year $835,000 contract. This means that Kevin Youkilis is now the lone player left that’s eligible for salary arbitration.

While this year’s Patriots team and even to some extent Celtics team has garnered all the attention of the Boston sports faithful, the team over in the Fens has yet to make a peep. History has showed that the Sox have done all in their powers to steal some thunder from the other home teams, this year though that has definitely not been the case. As Bruce Allen tells us this year’s “Hot Stove” has been rather cold.

Misc.

In case you’re still interested in the Dana Jacobson saga from earlier in the week, the Big Lead has come through with some pics of her “acting a fool” at the Mike and Mike Roast. Most notoriously is her swigging Belvedere vodka straight from the bottle (as mentioned hundreds of times this week by John Dennis). My favorite part has to be the fact that the pourer is still on the bottle. These are just a few of the things that led to the suspension.

Not Always Pretty But Always Effective

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here.)

“Eric…..nice game…..that was awesome”

That’s it? No walking directly off of the field, no chocking out cameramen? All we have to look back at is a simple few words with a happy grin. For all the buildup that was “CameraGate”, “SpyGate”, “HateBowl”, whatever you can come up with, Sunday culminated in the most boring game of the season. There was no “RunningupthescoreGate” to discuss. Robert Kraft and Co. didn’t have to install a NBA scoreboard in order to hold the three-digit score, Vegas didn’t break any records, ultimately the Patriots did what they always do, win, no matter how pretty. Let’s face it, Sunday was not pretty but we’ll take it. 14-0 and getting ready to welcome in the surging Dolphins on Sunday, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Michael Felger has the Patriots Report Card. Everyone made the Honor Roll except Tom Brady and the wide receivers. Felger sites Brady’s insistence on getting Moss the ball, even in coverage as the reason for his average grade. Brady admitted that he sometimes locks in on Moss even when he’s double covered. Felger even has a strange name in the “Back of the Pack”. Over in the New York Post Mark Cannizzaro has the Jets’ Report Card. Brady and Co. should not fret about their passing grade because the Jets’ QB’s will be heading to summer school. While option-QB Brad Smith had marginal success, he was just a small part of the “man-genius” surprises the Jets cooked up for the Patriots.

Over at Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has his weekly “Inside Gillette” segment. Chris looks at the Patriots clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and Belichick’s success at home.

Christopher Gaspar has the elements, as well as, opponents playing a role in the offense going from superhuman to just superb. With Sunday’s win the Patriots clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, although based on history this does not always guarantee success. There’s good news for Patriots’ fans though.

It was just last week that Seymour told reporters that his knee was not 100% but Sunday’s game versus the Jets showed otherwise, Bill Belichick discusses the continued progress of Richard Seymour, who coming off of surgery has slowly began to make an impact. Shalise Manza Young has Randy Moss describing how it felt to lineup as a fullback for a play.

Peter King checks in with his Monday Morning Quarterback. Peter puts down his latte and goes for a walk with former Giants safety George Martin. Martin is walking from the George Washington Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge to raise awareness for the 9/11 First Responders, who are now facing severe health issues related to the tower collapses. Peter speaks with Pats RB Lawrence Maroney in the Fine Fifteen.

In Michael Silver’s Morning Rush, he has the Dolphins feeling like they just won the Super Bowl after their comeback overtime victory over the Ravens. Patriots fans came out in full force in Silver’s mailbag, or as he so eloquently puts it “Trippin on E(Mail)”, voicing their displeasure with Silver’s “Hate-riots” article from last week. In case you missed it, Silver sat down with Nancy Brady, Tom’s sister, and detailed for her “Six reasons why almost everyone hates the Patriots.”

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has his weekly 10-Pack, Florio takes a page out of Ted Sarandasis’ book on stadium construction, giving Robert Kraft some construction advice. While the statement may be tongue-in-cheek, the notion that the Patriots cannot play in cold weather is rather baffling. This assumption is based on what?

Don Banks has Bill Belichick treating the last two games of the season like all the rest.

Awful Announcing was not impressed with Joe Buck’s performance on Sunday.

Celtics

Over on Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin is placing the C’s on a microscope slide and as you’ll see, no degree of minutia escapes his lens. He’s discovering what every Patriots journalist knows: that the rules of examination must intensify when your subject approaches perfection.

Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders is impressed with the early success of the Celtics. He even wishes his former player Kevin Garnett success in the playoffs, with a small stipulation. Mark Spears looks at James Posey who coming to Boston via trade this offseason, expected this team to be a powerhouse on offense. Yet, the defense has provided the firepower for the best record in the NBA. Steve Bulpett sits down with Tommy Heinsohn to discuss the similarities between this Celtics team and the 1963-1964 team Heinsohn was a part of.

Boston Sportz has a look at what the Celtics might look like as members of the hit TV show “The Office”.

Red Sox

“I’m not talking to y’all about it”

If you were waiting for Roger Clemens to come out and give a pre-meditated statement to the press, ripe with apologies and gut wrenching stories of tough decisions, don’t hold your breath. The brief statement above is all the “Rocket” could muster yesterday outside his palatial mansion as he continues to refuse to speak about the Mitchell Report. The fact that McNamee signed a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors last summer only serves to add credibility to McNamee’s testimony. The New York Times explains the punishment McNamee would face if he lied to investigators.

Gerry Callahan has the world crumbling around the fraud that is Roger Clemens. With Andy Pettitte coming out and confirming Brian McNamee’s claims, Clemens is now cornered like a “sewer rat”. Callahan now has Clemens and Bonds together as “the bookend bums of baseball.” Clemens teammate Mariano Rivera says he “admires Pettitte for coming out and saying he did it.” Is that a direct shot at Clemens? Who knows, but Roger is already losing out on speaking engagements. Jayson Stark somehow tries to make the case that Clemens and Bonds are different. Curt Schilling has some advice for Clemens on how he should handle this.

On the non-steroid front, Gordon Edes reminds us that the Red Sox have done some of their best work after the holidays. Explaining that the Sox are still in the running to acquire the services of Johan Santana, adding that the Red Sox are in a position of strength, not desperation.

Mitchell Report Names Released

Dave here…

Earlier today Deadspin had printed a list of names that were to appear in today’s Mitchell Report. The names on the list were pretty shocking, with a number of former Red Sox players and two current players. Some of the names were out right jaw dropping.

As the day went on, the names turned out to be incorrect.

The Official Mitchell Report has been released, it’s contents are not as shocking as we thought earlier in the day. The good news for Red Sox fans is that there were only two current players, Eric Gagne (HGH, pg. 217) and Brenden Donnelly (pg. 224), mentioned in the report.

Extra Bases has some interesting excerpts from the report about the Red Sox having some reservations about Gagne and steroid use. Plus, the Red Sox are denying the release of Donnelly had anything to do with the Mitchell Report.

The report itself is over 400 pages in length, and is written in more of a narrative style, rather than a list. One of the most prominent names on the list is of course, Roger Clemens. Clemens use of performance enhancing drugs is described in detail, beginning on page 167.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says the Astros should be embarrassed.

Baseball Reference has a complete list of the names in the Mitchell Report as well as a link to their statistics.

Former Red Sox MVP Mo Vaughn is listed in Mitchell’s Report, with a copy of a check in the amount of $3,200 written out to Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski (page 186)

David Scott checks in with his Scott’s Shots. He looks at the Mitchell Investigation, as well as, some chages over at CN8.

Hometown boy, Dan Wetzel, says that Roger Clemens is now the white Barry Bonds.

“Arizona Diamondbacks righthander Curt Schilling thinks twice before giving a teammate the traditional slap on the butt for a job well-done. “I’ll pat guys on the ass, and they’ll look at me and go, ‘Don’t hit me there, man. It hurts,'” Schilling says. “That’s because that’s where they shoot the steroid needles.”

The above quote is the lead on an article from June 2002 by SI’s Tom Verducci. If you have forgotten how the whispers sounded pre-“Game of Shadows” and BALCO, look no further than this piece.

“I thought Tom Brady was totally classless with Anthony Smith. Smith shouldn’t have made a guarantee, he’s an idiot, but you won the game, you proved your point. Why are you in his face now? That’s ridiculous. Tom Brady, every week, he’s going down in my estimation as a classy guy… totally classless.”

Bill Plaschke is the blowhard who said the above statement. He also writes in the LA Times that baseball will survive.

Jacoby Speaks

Patriots Daily contributor Bill Barnwell recently caught up with the Red Sox (currently anyway) centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Speaking of Patriots Daily, Christopher Price checks in with his “Inside Gillette” segment, as well as, “Five things to look for this week”.

Gregg Easterbrook takes a look at the NFL’s plan to allow ticket brokers to re-sell NFL tickets. Gregg argues that this practice will only lead to astronomical ticket prices. He also gives his two cents on the Patriots victory over the Steelers. It even seems as if his son hates the Patriots. That plus all the usual nonsense in this week’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has some NFL fans angry at the Patriots for not wearing the #21 decal on their helmets this weekend.

Old Boston scribe, Howard Bryant has a mammoth piece about the upcoming Mitchell Investigation, scheduled to be released sometime this week.

Peter King has a warning for Wayne Huizenga in this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback. He also has a suggestion for the Patriots on what they should do with their first round draft pick.

Michael Silver was at Foxboro this weekend, he offers up his observations and a look at the Steelers first year head coach Mike Tomlin.

Sports Illustrated has a great piece on the rehabilitation that injured Buffalo Bill, Kevin Everett is undergoing.

Michael Wilbon says that Michael Vick’s sentence reflects the judge’s dissatisfaction with Vick’s lying.

While you may have thought that a personal masseuse, as well as, a housing allowance were great perks added to Dice-K’s contract, that’s not the only thing he or some of these other players managed to get out of their respective ball clubs. Here’s a look at some of the offbeat clauses in baseball contracts.

ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber gives her critique of the World Wide Leader’s coverage of the Sean Taylor tragedy, also, their endless hours of Michael Vick.

Revenge is in the air

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be contacted here.)

Before looking forward to the “epic match up” this week between the Patriots and Jets lets look back at the Patriots domination of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Michael Felger has the Patriots getting their swagger back in his weekly Report Card. The Patriots made the “Honor Roll” with their performance on Sunday. Meanwhile, over in Pittsburgh, the Steelers might be hiding their report card, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hands out some ugly grades to the Steelers. ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli has a tip for future opponents of the Patriots. Karen Guerigian has the Pats all charged up, and Belichick keeping some names out of his mouth.

Now that the Patriots have disposed of the last “real” threat on their quest for perfection, they can look forward to a week full of CameraGate and “Revenge”. The storylines that will be played out over the next couple of days will reach an all-time level in these parts, as well as, in New York. You can expect the New York papers to play this up as much as possible, considering the New York Post is responsible for placing an asterisk on the side of the Patriots record in their NFL Standings. As you look down the asterisk leads to the comment :”Caught Cheating”. Talk about pandering to the fanbase.

Gerry Callahan says that this Sunday’s matchup is all about hate. Gerry also points out all the offensive records that the Patriots will be vying for this season, and wonders if they can all be captured by halftime. Christopher Gasper has Eric Mangini telling reporters that his feelings for Belichick have not changed, too bad for Eric the feeling is not mutual. With the Patriots well on their way to breaking all sorts of offensive records, why not own a few Vegas’ records in the process. Jets safety Kerry Rhodes makes a guarantee about Sunday’s game, although this one might come to fruition. Mr. Old Time Baseball, Steve Buckley has Coach Belichick describing his team’s approach to Sunday’s game versus the Jets. Even though the most famous guarantee in football history was made by a Jets player, don’t expect to hear another one this week.

Gene Wojciechowski professes his love for Tom Brady, and looks for new ways to describe him.

In the Globe’s Notebook the Patriots discuss their improvements in the “red area”, and we also learn that there might be some real short press conferences this week. The Herald’s Notebook has Pittsburgh Pinhead Anthony Smith talking trash to Brady during pre-game warmups. How’d that work out for you? Young’s notebook in the ProJo has Richard Seymour still feeling the after effects of his knee surgery.

Bruins

The Bruins skated to a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last night. Fluto Shinzawa has Bruins newcomer Alex Auld making the difference chalking up 44 saves on 45 shots. Glen Metropolit returned to the Canadian housing project where he was raised.

Patriots Survive Eagle Attack

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Patriots everything they had last night in Foxboro, nearly disrupting the Patriots journey to an undefeated season. The Eagles made certain there would be no talk of “RunningupthescoreGate” after last night’s game forcing the Patriots’ starters to play a full sixty minutes. The Eagles listened to John Madden’s advice from earlier in the week, “come out and be aggressive”, and aggressive they were, eschewing a field goal early in the game, going for it on fourth-and-one, which led to their first touchdown. Later in the half, they surprised the Patriots, recovering an onside kick. The Patriots showed their true spirit though, ultimately charging back and pulling out the 31-28 victory. Tom Brady’s assault on Peyton Manning’s touchdown record was put on hold last night, instead Brady who was 34-of-54, 380 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, showed why he already holds a 3-to-1 lead over Manning in the only record that matters. With Brady’s performance last night, Michael Felger tells us he has regained the MVP vote from Randy Moss. The Eagles did everything possible to contain Randy Moss, holding Moss to 5 catches for 43 yards, but all that attention left the speedy Wes Welker (13 catches, 149 yards) to post a career game. This is a great way to describe the impact of Wes Welker. Along with Welker, Robert Lee of the Providence Journal has Jabar Gaffney having a “breakout” game.

For all of the talk about a record 22.5 point spread, Vegas surely got this one wrong. It did serve to provide some extra motivation for the Philadelphia players, who were not scared. The big question now, which will surely be debated all week is whether the rest of the league now has a blueprint on how to defeat, or at least disrupt the Patriots. If nothing else, Tony Massarotti says last night’s game proved the Patriots are vulnerable. Jackie MacMullan puts a more positive spin on the meaning of last night’s hard fought victory. No matter what gameplan teams decide to use, ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli says that you “cannot fool Brady”. Don Banks says the Patriots’ narrow victory may serve to help them in the long run.

Asante Samuel’s two bookend interceptions were huge, and ultimately the deciding factors in last night’s game. Jeff Horrigan has Rodney Harrison calling Samuel “the best defensive back in the NFL.” While a majority of the attention will be paid to the Eagles defensive scheme, AJ Feeley, the Eagles back-up QB played a tremendous game with the only tarnishes coming on the Samuel picks.

Within the Herald’s Notebook we learn that Rosevelt Colvin left the game with a foot injury. The Globe’s Notebook has Bill Belichick crediting Asante Samuel with the game deciding interceptions.

Amongst all of last night’s drama, the Patriots have clinched the AFC East, making them the Division Champions and also tying them with three other teams for the fastest to secure the division since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Scott Benson over at Patriots Daily has the Patriots dodging a bullet last night. That plus random thoughts on last night’s victory.

Super-Agent Boras Eating Humble Pie?

(Afternoon Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

With the A-Rod negotiations taking a complete 180 in the past 24-48 hours the coverage from around the media world is rather mixed. Both ESPN and Fox Sports are reporting that A-Rod has taken on the negotiating duties himself, leaving out his agent Scott Boras.

Here’s the statement Rodriguez released to the media…

After spending time with Cynthia and my family over these last few weeks, it became clear to me that I needed to make an attempt to engage the Yankees regarding my future with the organization.

Prior to entering into serious negotiations with other clubs, I wanted the opportunity to share my thoughts directly with Yankees’ ownership. We know there are other opportunities for us, but Cynthia and I have a foundation with the club that has brought us comfort, stability and happiness.

As a result, I reached out to the Yankees through mutual friends and conveyed that message. I also understand that I had to respond to certain Yankees concerns, and I was receptive and understanding of that situation.

Cynthia and I have since spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family. During these healthy discussions, both sides were able to share honest feelings and hopes with one another, and we expect to continue this dialogue with the Yankees over the next few days.

Translation: Since my super agent mis-read the market place and no other team is willing to pay my astronomical asking price, I unfortunately must crawl back to the Yankees with my tail between my legs. On the flip side, I am still the highest paid player in baseball so to everyone laughing at this event I will now go and figure out a way to spend $300 million dollars.

With mega-agent Scott Boras apparently on the outside looking in during the A-Rod negotiations, Ken Rosenthal has the baseball world enjoying Boras’ failure.

Buster Olney asks how much negative publicity has A-Rod garnered over the past 18 days?

Reputed Boras buddy Jon Heyman has his take on the negotiations, telling us the contrary..

“Yankees people denied suggestions in a report that Rodriguez was handling the situation solo, saying Boras, his longtime agent, was intimately involved. Boras has been with A-Rod in Miami the past four days.”

Wallace Matthews of Newsday says this is all just a negotiating ploy, premeditated by A-Rod’s agent Scott Boras.

The Big Lead has an A-Rod FAQ to help guide you through the negotiations.

Around The Web

As far as the other big free agent 3B on the market, Rob Bradford shoots down the Channel 7 report, saying the Braves and Cardinals have not made 4-year offers to Mike Lowell.

A few NFL teams blew past the Colts in Dr. Z’s weekly Power Rankings. The Jets managed to move into the #2 spot during their bye week, #2 from the bottom that is. J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS!

Within his weekly 32 Questions, Michael Silver wonders if the Jets can surpass the Dolphins in the race for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft.

John Czarnecki, a.k.a. The NFL Czar takes on the part of a miracle worker as he attempts to fix the NFL’s 5 worst franchises.

Mike Reiss has the Pats preparing for a cold, wet game on Sunday night.

Peter King leads off his weekly mailbag with his theory on the revolving door that is the running back position in the NFL. Peter argues that a team does not need to spend inordinate amounts of money on a free agent “franchise” running back.

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders has the weekly NFL Rundown.

Over on Ed Berliner’s Speeding Bullet Network, Jonathan Comey of Cold Hard Football Facts discusses Sunday’s Pats-Bills matchup.

ESPN is dominating in the ratings.

Manny was able to sell his car, getting a nice premium on the asking price.

According to this story, Tony Kornheiser is big amongst incarcerated men.

If you can come up with a caption for this Kevin Garnett picture, you can win a free t-shirt.

Colts GM Bill Polian takes on the officials and answers some questions in his weekly Q & A.

Joe Sports Fan is back with this week’s Media Circus.

Awful Announcing has your announcing schedule for the NFL Week #11.

Tonight on TV

The Bruins will skate tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden in search of their 9th win. Standing in their way are the 7-7-3-2 Toronto Maple Leafs. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00PM on NESN.

In case you were wondering who the #2 college football team in the BCS Standings is, you will have your chance to see them tonight. The #2 ranked Oregon Ducks (8-1) head to Arizona to take on the (4-6) University of Arizona. Kickoff is at 9:00PM on ESPN.

For the boxing fans, former World Champion Hasim Rahman (44-6, 35 KOs) takes on Sherman Williams (33-10, 19 KOs) in a 10 round Heavyweight bout. The bout is being broadcast on the Versus network beginning at 9:00PM

Indy Attempts to Knock Off an Undefeated Boston Team, Take 2

(Afternoon Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be contacted here)

The Celtics head to Indianapolis tonight to take on the struggling Indiana Pacers. The Pacers who started the season 3-0, have since lost three straight. In the meantime, the Celtics are off to their best start in twenty years, and are looking to remain the 2nd undefeated team in Boston, and the only undefeated team in the NBA.

The “P.G.A” Tour heads into Indy, having combined to average 68.8 of the 107.6 points. They’ve also helped the Celtics post a league-leading 52.4 field-goal percentage. They are not just helping on the offensive side of the ball either, they have also improved things on the defensive end where they are allowing 91.0 points per game, a great improvement over the 99.2 given up last season. The same Celtics who allowed nearly 100 points per game also lost three in a row and five of six from the Pacers last year. But let’s face it, last year was last year, frankly it’s irrelevant.

Tipoff at Conseco Fieldhouse is at 7:00PM, with local coverage on Comcast Sports Net.

Mike Kahn over at Fox Sports says “We knew the Celtics were going to be good, but impressive is an understatement”

Despite their untarnished record, the C’s were not #1 in ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings.

Former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien will be on the bench tonight when the C’s head to Indy. This time O’Brien will be coaching the Pacers. Mark Spears catches up with O’Brien to see what the coach has been up to since leaving the Sixers.

For a look at how the Celtics look in the Indianapolis papers, here’s the preview of the game from the Indianapolis Star.

From the Monday Must-Read Files….

Michael Silver paints a picture of a fragmented locker room in San Diego. After reading this column I believe Tom Jackson was heard saying “they hate their coach”.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, or as Bill Polian refers to him “biased blogger with an agenda” says that the Packers are taking a page right out of the Patriots playbook with their trouncing of the Vikings on Sunday. Mike also looks at the possibility of Brady Quinn’s holdout ensuring he will be an affordable backup.

Peter King has Ben Roethlisberger channeling John Elway in Sunday’s comeback victory over the Browns. Also, a new team from the AFC East makes it into the “Fine Fifteen”.

Around the Web

Over at Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has “5 Things to Look for on Sunday” when the Pats head up to Buffalo.

John Tomase writing in the Herald’s Point After blog has some insane statistics posted by the Patriots this season.

Ken Rosenthal makes the case that Jorge Posada has the opportunity to become one of the great three Hall of Fame catchers in Yankees’ history, putting Jorge in the company of Dickey and Berra.

Fire Joe Morgan takes Nick Cafardo to task over his Mitchell Report comments from this morning.

Sal Paolantonio tells us that the ’72 Dolphins were not as good as everyone believes they were.

Football Outsiders Aaron Schatz looks at how bad Peyton Manning’s performance was on Sunday. He also ranks some of Peyton’s worst career performances.

Despite SIX interceptions, Dr. Z tells us that Peyton showed us toughness on Sunday. The one thing that caught my attention in this column was the following quote….

“They (Colts) fell behind, 23-0. I thought the result would be like one of those New England Patriot adding machine things, except that Norv Turner doesn’t run up scores.”

That is just mind-boggling, Turner doesn’t run up scores? Maybe he should have, because if it wasn’t for Tony Dungy’s muffled clock management and Adam Vinatieri missing a 29-yard field goal, they would have blown a 23-point lead. As Michael Silver wrote in his “Morning Rush” the dissent amongst the San Diego players with Turner’s playcalling is loud and clear, so to throw that quote out there is just asinine. At the beginning of the season Jerry Rice described what type of coach Turner was in Oakland.

Speaking of Vinatieri’s game-winning miss, Awful Announcing has a major gaffe by Colts radio play-by-play man Bob Lamey, it’s just absolute high comedy.

Mike Reiss looks at all things Patriots in his weekly mailbag.

Keith Law of Scouts, Inc. breaks down the 50 Top Free-Agents.

Tom Curran has a look at what the Colts need to do to get back on track.

Sports Illustrated has the Worst Free-Agent contracts of the last 10 years. Not to be overshadowed by the Best Free-Agent contracts of the past 30 years.

ESPN narrowly topped Yahoo! Sports this month in the October comScore numbers. The Big Lead has the breakdown.

Tonight on TV

With the Bruins off until Thursday, the Celtics own the Boston sports spotlight tonight. For the college football fans, there’s a Mid-American clash between Toledo and Ball State on ESPN2 beginning at 7:30PM.

Pedroia Grabs Rookie of the Year

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

The last man to do it in a Red Sox uniform was Nomar Garciaparra. The year was 1997 and the future outlook for Nomar was endless, now ten years later the Red Sox mighty mouse second baseman Dustin Pedroia has won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Dustin who finished the season playing with a broken hammate bone in his left hand won the award by a large margin grabbing 24 of 28 first place votes. Amalie Benjamin has coverage from the press conference Pedroia held yesterday. Tony Massarotti has manager Terry Francona claiming he had no clue that he was looking at the future Rookie of the Year when Pedroia was playing behind Alex Cora in early April. Michael Silverman says that Pedroia’s determination to prove his nay-sayers wrong reminds him a little bit of Pedro Martinez.

The Red Sox exclusive rights to negotiate with Mike Lowell have ended, meaning that any team interested in Lowell’s services can offer him a contract. The Red Sox remain steadfast with their three-year offer, estimated at $40 million. Sean McAdam tells us that even though the Red Sox have lost exclusive rights to speak with Lowell, this does not mean that they are no longer interested. Michael Silverman has a less optimistic outlook on the Lowell negotiations. Within this report about Mike Lowell, Nick Cafardo discusses some of the possible ramifications of the Mitchell Report. While MLB officially announced that no more than 11 of the 153 free agents will be in the report (7%), the possibility of signing a free agent who will be suspended in their first year does still exist.

Somebody with money to burn paid $9,000 to eat with Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Sticking with the charity theme, Gillete is giving Kevin Youkilis $5,000 to give up his goatee, with the proceeds going to his newly formed charity, Kevin Youkilis Hits for Kids.

Over in Yankee-Land, Jorge Posada signed a four-year, $52.4 million dollar deal to remain in pinstripes for the remainder of his career. Mike “Dropi Papi” Vaccaro says that with the return of Posada, the heart of the Yankees still beats.

Patriots

“Tommy says Randy is a brilliant football player with a brilliant football mind. There’s kind of a sympatico between them that transcends time”

Tom Brady Sr. discusses the season his son is enjoying with all of his new toys.

Karen Guregian has Richard Seymour working hard to regain his conditioning and return to being one of the league’s most dominant defensive forces. Christopher Gasper has wideout Chad Jackson returning to practice and looking for a spot on the depth chart. What a difference a year makes, last year Chad Jackson was the guy that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would send down the sideline on a go-route only to have Jackson come up short. This year the Pats have numerous down-field weapons and Jackson will beg to find a spot. Making things a little more difficult for Chad is that there was another new Patriot wideout at practice yesterday. With the Colts feeling a little down in the dumps, John Tomase says that the Patriots know exactly how the Colts feel.

Within the Herald’s notebook we learn that the Bills outstanding rookie running back Marshawn Lynch is nursing a sprained ankle. Patriots offensive lineman Wesley Britt received some amazing off the field news. In the ProJo’s notebook Bill Belichick discusses the reasoning behind giving the team a full week off.

When you’re trying to figure out just how dominant the Patriots have been this year, there’s only one true source to look to,…….Vegas.

For all the rest of your Patriots coverage check out the Patriots Daily page.

Celtics

Celtics swingman James Posey was back at practice after suffering a herniated lumbar disc. Mark Murphy says that James is not out of the woods just yet. After spending the night at New England Baptist Hospital with a concussion, Brian Scalabrine will be available tonight against Indy.

Kevin Garnett was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. This story about the success of teams who add an all-NBA star in the Wall Street Journal should make Celtics fans happy.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back this afternoon with a preview of the C’s matchup and the “Around the Web” links.

Weekend Tidbits

Dave here with a few tidbits to get us through this long weekend.

You can watch the video Brian discussed in this morning’s links of Mike Pereira, the NFL’s VP of Officiating, defending the pass interference call on Ellis Hobbs Sunday. For anybody who does not get the NFL Network a majority of their programming is available on the NFL.com website. Like Brian said earlier, it is fascinating to watch Pereira describe Ellis’ foul, and the exact things he did to get the flag thrown.

Speaking of not having the NFL Network, Phil Mushnick tackles that exact subject.

David Scott takes a look at the Nick Cafardo retraction/gaffe in this week’s edition of Scott’s Shots. He also declares Yahoo’s dominance over ESPN in the Reggie Bush saga.

For a look at all of the College Football on television this weekend, check here.

With the Patriots on a bye, we’ll have to turn our attention to the rest of the NFL. Here’s who we get a chance to see this Sunday.

CBS Single Game
Fox Early Game
Fox Late Game

The weekend’s NFL action ends with Indy heading West to take on the San Diego Chargers in Sunday Night Football on NBC.

Enjoy the long weekend.

We’ll be back here on Monday with a full slate of links.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check in with Patriots Daily for all the weekend’s coverage.