Friday, January 06, 2006


J.T. Snow will probably remain in World Series highlight reels for all-time because of his efforts to get Dusty Baker's son Derrin out of the way of the most furious play in baseball: the play at the plate. The Red Sox hope he can help them return to the World Series once more. They have reportedly signed the veteran lefthanded first baseman to a 2 year, $2 million deal. Snow will probably play in a platoon role with righthanded Kevin Youkilis. Article

David Ortiz expects to get a contract extension soon. 2006 is the last year of the two year extension he signed two years ago, obviously. He most assuredly deserves an extension along with a raise over his $6.5 million salary. The Red Sox need to get this done NOW!

The thing about negotiating contract extensions early is that technically it doesn't make a difference. In reality, though, it does. It lets the player know you want him on the team. It also allows you to negotiate without competing with other teams that may or may not be offering bigger and/or longer contracts. We simply can't afford to lose Ortiz.

There is word from Manny's agent that they are still looking at deals. This doesn't completely contradict the report from ESPN Deportes that Manny wanted to stay. I guess his agent pobably isn't as pone to mood swings as Manny.


The Patriots started off the season with high expectations. They then saw player after player fall to injury. They had already lost Ty Law to the Jets, Ted Johnson to retirement, Tedy Bruschi to a stroke, Romeo Croenell to the Browns, and Charlie Weis to Notre Dame. Then Rodney Harrison went down for the season. Matt Light went down for the season. Corey Dillon went down, as did Kevin Faulk, Patrick Pass, Heath Evans, Tom Ashworth, David Givens, almost the entire defensive secondary, Richard Seymour, and then Tedy Bruschi AGAIN. Yet some how, some way, the Patriots find themselves in the playoffs and at home to start them off.

The last time the Patriots played the Jaguars was in 2003. The Pats won 27-13 in a snow-filled game in Foxborough. Before that, they beat us in a playoff game in 1998. That game was in Jacksonville. In 1997, we beat them 26-20. We beat them in 1996 28-25 (I think Vinaieri had his first game-winning FG in this one) then once more in the AFC Championship game 20-6.

The big question with this game is who will be starting at quarterback for the Jaguars. Byron Leftwhich is the pocket passer of the two. His QB rating is only 6 points higher than David Garrard. However, Garrard played against some pretty weak teams (Arizona, Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Tennessee). Garrard can run the ball. He had 29 carries for 185 yards. He was sacked 8 times in 6 games. Leftwich was sacked 23 times in 10 games.

Leftwich has been named the started by Jack Del Rio, but that doesn't mean we won't see any of Garrard. He could come in if Leftwich isn't performing/gets hurt or if Del Rio wants a quick change of pace to keep the Pats defense off balance.

The Jaguars game plan will probably be very simple on defense. They will attack Tom Brady all night. Their defensive line is anchored in the middle by Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. They only have 4 sacks combined, but they are able to create solid and consistent pressure up the middle that will force Brady back in the pocket. They will also be hard to block when it comes to running plays. This season, when Brady has been pressured consistently, the Pats offense has been far less than stellar. We depend on multiple passing options and progressions for Brady, along with well designed receiver routes that take time to develop. Pressure would screw this gameplan up quite a bit.

Jacksonville has the 6th ranked defense in the league, allowing 291 yards a game. They are the third best defense on 3rd down conversions. They are 7th against the pass and 8th against the run. They also have the 6th best scoring defense. They probably won't let the Patriots get much going on the ground, but we haven't had much on the ground all season. This game, offensively at least, will be up to Brady and the receivers to win. The Pats will probably spread the ball, as usual, and will probably utilize everyone. We have a great deal of depth when it comes to guys to catch the ball and it will be on full display Saturday night.

The Jaguars offense is average and unspectacular. They're 12th in scoring in the NFL. Fortunately for us, they're 19th in passing. They're 10th in rushing. I think we can stop their rushing attack with our front 7. Especially if Bruschi is healthy. Fred Taylor and Greg Jones combined for over 1,200 yards this season but that was against the likes of Houston and Tennessee. I think the Patriots will effectively stop the run game.

The Jaguars passing game isn't all that impressive. Jimmy Smith had a good season with over 1,000 yards but none of Jacksonville's receivers apart from him are very threatening. If we can keep the running game to about 3 yards a carry and shut down Jimmy Smith, we can keep Jacksonville under 20 points. If we keep Jacksonville under 20 points, we will win. If not, I think we will lose or it will be a coinflip whether or not we win.

Gameday temperature should be in the 20's with a 20% chance of snow. This plays in our favor. The Jags haven't played in a cold weather game in a month. They barely escaped Cleveland with a 20-14 win. They needed 17 second half points to come back. Now, the Browns were 4-8 this year. We're much better than them. That was the ONLY game Jacksonville has played in cold weather all season.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Jaguars 17.