Monday, December 31, 2012

Patriots Don't Let Opportunity Pass Them Bye

For the Miami Dolphins this was the last week of an already finished season. It was a cold Gillette Stadium evening, with an assaulting wind. The Dolphins didn't want to be there. Who would?

On the other side of the ball, the Patriots had a chance to advance a round in the playoffs before the playoffs even started. They did their job and earned a week off. They wanted a win and they took it.

It's good to see Rob Gronkowski back. The Patriots' Red Zone offense is simple and deadly when he's on the field. And between the 20s and he causes so many matchup problems, and helps guys like Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez take advantage of the attention he draws. And he can block.

It's also great to get a week off so dinged up players can be fresh for the Divisional Round. Which will be Sunday the 13th at 4:30pm. If Houston wins, it will be against the Texans. If Houston loses, it'll be against the winner of the Indy/Baltimore game.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Patriots-Dolphins Drinking Game

It's the last week of the regular season. 'Tis the season for seeding. Here's a drinking game to play during the Pats/Dolphins game:

Anytime a commentator says...
"New Year's" = 1 drink from a beer
"To you and yours" = 1 drink from your beer, 1 drink from the beers of those sitting next to you
"Playoff picture" = 1 drink
"Control their own destiny" = 1 drink
"Seed" = 1 drink
"Bye" = 1 drink
"Home-field" = 1 drink
"Snow" = 1 drink
"Nor'Easter" = 1 drink
"Cold" = 1 drink
"Brrrrrr" = 10 drinks

Anytime this is on screen...
Thermometer = 1 drink for every degree below 32 it is
Playoff scenarios = 1 drink
Graphic with Patriots/Belichick's record in December games = 1 drink
Most consecutive game with TD pass graphic = drink from beer for 48 seconds if it's before Brady gets #49, 49 seconds if after
Things encrusted in snow/ice = 1 drink
Steam coming off someone's head = 1 drink
Steam coming off Vince Wilfork's head = drink for 7.5 seconds
People ice-skating = 1 drink
People skating at Patriot Place = 5 drinks
Anyone wearing New Year's attire = 1 drink
That Mark Henderson guy plowing snow off the field in the 1982 Pats/Dolphins game = drink for 30 seconds
Rob Gronkowski = finish drink, then spike the can/bottle
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking to someone = drink beer the entire time he's talking

Anytime this happens...
Snowballs tossed jubilantly = drink the entire time they're being tossed
Brady yells "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink (bonus points for White Russians)
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink (bonus points but extra drinks for Mike's Hard Lemonade)
Patriots get a 1st down = 1 drink
Patriots go no-huddle = 1 drink each snap
Patriots allow 15+ yard pass play = 1 drink
Patriots force a turnover = 1 shot
Vince Wilfork forces or recovers a turnover = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 whole beer, 1 shot, 1 pound of seafood
Kickoff touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink during the entire return

Get lubed up responsibly.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Minnesota Loves Giving Gifts to Boston

It's the time of year for giving, and that's what the Minnesota Vikings did for the New England Patriots on Sunday. Minnesota's 23-6 thumping of the Houston Texans made it so if the Patriots win next week, they can secure a first-round bye if Houston loses or if Denver loses. Essentially, the Vikings more than doubled the chances of the Patriots receiving a bye, considering the Texans face the Colts, while the Broncos face the Chiefs. Houston is more likely to fall to Indy than the Broncos are to fall to KC.

This isn't the first time that Minnesota has given Boston a tremendous sports gift. Old friend Kevin McHale shipped Kevin Garnett to the Celtics as an early Christmas present in 2007. That worked out pretty well.

The Twins released David Ortiz just before Christmas 2002, and he was signed by the Red Sox the following January. Ortiz has hit 343 homeruns and knocked in 1,088 RBI for the Sox since then.

It's nice that there's such generosity between Minnesota and Massachusetts. It wasn't always so heartfelt and nice.

Merry Christmas, Minnesota. And thank you.

Patriots Don't Try, Still Win

The Patriots have scored 294 more points than the Jaguars this season. Yet when they played yesterday, the Patriots only managed to score 7 more points than the Jags.

The Patriots played poorly. There's no getting around that. This was a hangover game. Last Sunday was a long, tough game. And it's hard to bring the energy down to Jacksonville after two nationally televised games against elite opponents. I'm not worried about the problems the Patriots had in this game reappearing in the playoffs.

I am actually pleased, in some ways. All year I've heard sports-radio callers and some pundits complaining that this team's defense hasn't won a game without the support of the offense. People have been clamoring for games to end with a Patriots defensive stop. They finally got it.

The D stopped the Jaguars near the goal line at the end of the game. Granted, the Jags have an abysmal offense. But stops are stops. The defense finally won a game.

The Patriots host the Dolphins next week and a first-round bye is still possible. If the Pats win, and either the Broncos or Texans lose, then the Pats will receive a bye.

The Texans are at Indy at 1:00pm. The Broncos host the Chiefs at 4:25, and the Pats also play at 4:25.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ignorant College Bowl Picks: Saturday's Games

I finished the season 79-81-1, which isn't a horrible record. I'm somewhat proud of it. Here are my picks for Saturday's bowl games...

Gildan New Mexico Bowl - Albuqueruqe, NM
Nevada +9.5 vs. Arizona
I gotta go with the Wolfpack in this one. Don't know why. But here's a picture of an Arizona girl.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Boise, ID
Utah State -10.5 vs. Toledo
USU went 10-2 and the game will be played in the Rocky Mountains. Advantage Aggies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

All I Want for Christmas Is the NHL... To Die

More talking between owners and players, still the same lack of resolution. And I'm realizing that even if the NHL returns in the early months of 2013, the underlying problems with the League will go unaddressed and unresolved. It's a great sport played by great athletes who compete in a horrible, moronic, short-sighted League. The best thing for hockey is for the NHL to die, and a new League to replace it.

This new League should have a similar number of teams but in places where people actually care about hockey. Having 2 teams in Florida and only 1 in Quebec makes no sense. Having a team in Arizona and none in Wisconsin makes no sense.

This League should allow its players to play in the Russian Winter Olympics. Olympic hockey is the best free advertisement for the game, and it reaches a global audience.

This League should widen the ice to allow for a less cramped, better flowing game. The players are much bigger (and faster) than they were in 1924, the ice surface should also be bigger.

This League would have a luxury tax system along with a cap, so big market teams could spend a little more, but they'd have to pay the small market teams in order to do so.

This League wouldn't allow work stoppages every 5 years. Its owners and players would care more about the long-term success and prosperity of the League than short-term profits. There would be a commissioner independent of the owners, like Kenesaw Mountain Landis was when MLB appointed him Commissioner in 1920 after the White Sox threw the World Series. And that commissioner's sole interest would be the good of the game, not the wealth of the owners or players.

The NHL is an old, overgrown, decaying tree. It needs to be cut down and turned into mulch to clear the way for a vibrant new tree to grow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Patriots-Texans Drinking Game: Monday Night Football Edition

Have a case of the Mondays? Then have a case on Monday. Here's a drinking game for tonight's Pats/Texans game...

Anytime a commentator says...
"Christmas" or "Holidays" = 1 drink from a beer
"Season's greetings" = drink beer for 10 seconds
"This guy" = 1 drink
"Here's a guy" = 1 drink
"Look" = 1 drink
"He's a football player" = 1 drink
"Potent" = 1 drink
"Balanced" = 1 drink
"High-percentage" = 1 drink
"Control their own destiny" = 1 drink
"Milkman" = 1 whole beer

Anytime this is on the screen...
Playoff scenarios = 1 drink
Graphic with Patriots/Belichick's record in December games = 1 drink
Most consecutive games with TD pass graphic = 1 drink
People shopping = 1 drink
Quincy Market = 5 drinks (because "Quincy" comes from the Latin word for 5, fun fact)
Santa = 1 drink
Christmas lights = 1 drink
Blinking Christmas lights = 1 drink per blink
People ice-skating = 1 drink
People ice-skating at Patriot Place = drink whole beer
People singing carols = 1 glass of wassail, or cider, or eggnog
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking to someone = drink beer the entire time he's talking

Anytime this happens...
Jon Gruden makes Mike Tirico giggle = 1 drink
Jon Gruden laughs at himself = 1 drink
Jon Gruden praises a body part of a player = 1 drink
Jon Gruden repeatedly gushes on and on about one player = drink every time he's mentioned, and drink for as long as Gruden rants
Jon Gruden refers to someone by a nickname you've never heard before
Tom Brady yells "Aplha Milk" = 1 drink of eggnog or a White Russian
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink (or 3 drinks from Mike's Hard Lemonade for bonus points)
Patriots get a 1st down = 1 drink
Patriots go no-huddle = 1 drink per snap
Patriots allow 10+ yard run play = 1 drink
Patriots force a turnover = 1 shot
Vince Wilfork forces or recovers a turnover = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 whole beer, 1 shot, 1 pound of Texas beef
Kickoff touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink during the entire return

Get lubed up responsibly.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Dodgers Sign Zack Greinke

I wanted the Red Sox to sign Zack Greinke. Not just because he'd improve the team now, but down the road he would be a very good #2 pitcher if the Sox can acquire or develop an Ace in the next few years.

The Dodgers crushed that idea, by committing $147 million over 6 years to Greinke. And that's simply too much money. $24.5 million per season is Ace money, and Greinke is no Ace. This is the second largest contract given to a pitcher, behind only the $161 million deal C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees agreed to.

Zack Greinke was the best free agent pitcher on the market, by far. But it was not a very good market. Greinke was the least unattractive girl on a Tuesday night at Applebee's, not the hottest girl in a downtown club on a Saturday night. That's what the Dodgers paid for.

Then again, they are clearly not afraid to spend money (they're the reason the Red Sox are able to spend money this off-season). The Dodgers had around $190 million in 2013 salary commitments before this signing. Now they're well over $200 million.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Jeremy Jacobs Is the Anti-Robert Kraft

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is frequently credited as being instrumental to bringing the NFL owners and NFLPA together last year during the NFL lockout. This year, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs seems to be playing the opposite role. While Kraft assumed the role of mediator and conciliator, Jacobs has acted as the opposite. Jacobs has been divisive, uncompromising, and argumentative. He is the wedge that has driven the owners and players apart.

It's almost as if Jeremy Jacobs didn't want there to be a 2012-13 NHL season.

Jeremy "Scrooge" Jacobs continued his avaricious agenda by getting into a shouting match with Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

Can you imagine an owner of any other team in any other sport getting "heated" with an individual player? Can you envision Robert Kraft or John Henry getting into a shouting match with Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter? Only the most absurdly hardline owner could lower themselves to argue heatedly with labor.

But that's what Jacobs is. He's hardline. Which doesn't make sense because he makes most of his money elsewhere. The Bruins are just a small part of the Delaware North empire which he commands. Delaware North pulls in $2.6 billion in revenues, so why is Mr. Jacobs so adamant about a few hundred thousand dollars in revenue?

Well, I think he's just an asshole. He's always been an asshole. We forgave and forgot him being an asshole when the Bruins won the Cup, but tigers can't shed their stripes. He is a bona fide, world-class asshole.

He doesn't care about the game. He doesn't even care about money. He cares about pride and spite. He is an embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins, specifically Pride. And he, more than any other person on the planet, is killing the game of hockey.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Army Unveils Special Uniform for Army/Navy Game

When Oregon or Maryland seemingly use kaleidoscopes to design uniforms, I cringe. Most college football special edition uniforms are disgusting and/or obnoxious. However, the kit that Army will be wearing in the Army/Navy game is, and there is no other word for it, cool.

The uniform is a tribute to 1944, which was a good year for the Army. The football team won a national title and the U.S. Army won the Battle of the Bulge. A map of the Ardennes region (where the Battle of the Bulge was fought) is imprinted in this jersey's numbers, sleeves, stripes, and gloves.

That along with Army's already badass black and gold color scheme, plus subtle touches like the "A" logo on the gloves, and a helmet decal paying tribute to the 101st Airborne Division (which held on to Bastogne while surrounded by Germans in the Battle of the Bulge), add to the utter coolness of this jersey.

I'm a history buff, a football fan, and a lover of well-designed aesthetics. And these uniforms impress me in all three aspects. It's a great football uniform, it looks sick instead of making me sick, and it honors our history.

This is the best college football uniform out there.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Harvard Wins Basketball Beanpot

Ten years ago, if you'd proposed a Beanpot style tournament for the college basketball teams in Boston, the idea would be dismissed because BC would be the undoubted favorite. How things have changed.

Harvard beat BC 79-63 last night. It was the Crimson's 5th straight victory over the Eagles.

What's really unfortunate for BC is that Harvard wasn't supposed to be that good this year. Harvard lost co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry before the season due to a cheating scandal. The Crimson were 3-3 coming into this game. One of their wins was over MIT (the Engineers compete in Division III). Another win was against the Manhattan College Jaspers.

BC was actually favored to win last night's game, and it was close at halftime, with Harvard clinging to a 31-29 lead. Then the Crimson started the 2nd half with a 7-0 run and kept their foot on the gas. BC simply could not stop them. Harvard went on an 11-0 run after the first media timeout. The game was effectively over with 12 minutes left to play.

Sivani Chambers scored 21 points for Harvard. Wesley Saunders added 18. Jonah Travis scored 14. For BC, Ryan Anderson stood out, scoring 23 very hard points, mostly down low. No other Eagle scored more than 15, and only two others scored more than 10.

Harvard won the physical battles. They got some key offensive rebounds and had 9 team steals compared to BC's 2. They also got to the line more often, and shot better with their 3-pointers.

Ten years ago BC was a perennial NCAA tournament team, the undisputed best college basketball team in Boston, and behind UConn the second best team in New England. Now, there's no other way to put it, BC is Harvard's bitch.

Photo Credit:
Boston Globe

Patriots Lose Edelman, Sign Donte Stallworth

The Patriots placed Julian Edelman on Injured Reserve, ending the wide receiver's 2012 season. The team signed former Patriot Donte Stallworth. However, Edelman's contributions in multiple phases of the game will be tough to replace.

Edelman scored 5 touchdowns this season: 3 were caught, 1 was a punt return, 1 was a fumble recovery on a kickoff. He averaged 15.5 yards per punt return, the 2nd best in the NFL. He was a key contributor on offense and special teams.

While Patriot fans revel in the team's 6 game win-streak and divisional title, what's not spoken much about is how riddled with injury this team is. Chandler Jones, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Rob Gronkowski. One more injury to a receiver, such as Wes Welker or Aaron Hernandez, and this team could be in trouble.

This is why securing a first-round bye is so vital.

BC Football Names Steve Addazio Head Coach

It didn't take long for BC to find a replacement for Frank Spaziani. Yesterday afternoon Steve Addazio was announced as the new head coach for the beleaguered program. Addazio has been the head coach at Temple the past two seasons. He had a 13-11 record with the Owls.

Before that he was the offensive coordinator at Florida for 2 years, the same time Tim Tebow was there. Perhaps Addazio will bring some of that option stuff to Chestnut Hill, where offensive creativity has been sorely lacking for years. He was part of Florida's coaching staff from 2005 to 2010.

Addazio's two BCS titles as an assistant coach, as well as his experience in Gainesville, should buy him some credibility when recruiting and coaching offensive players.

The 53 year old Connecticut native has also been an assistant coach at Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Indiana. He coached high school football in Connecticut from 1988 to 1994.

Addazio brings some new blood to a program that desperately needs it. In the last 8 years he's been moving up through the ranks of Florida's coaching staff. He went from an offensive-line and tight-end coach, to becoming the assistant head coach, to offensive coordinator, and then head coach at Temple. BC needed a coach who is making steps forward in their career, not one who is standing still, or taking steps back.

Addazio's background as an offensive-line coach also fits with BC's reputation as a program that produces NFL caliber talent in those positions. Addazio played on the offensive and defensive lines when he played at Central Connecticut State.

BC and Addazio agreed to a 6 year deal. Hopefully by then Addazio has done so well that he's fielding job offers from the SEC and NFL.

Red Sox Sign Shane Victorino... Why?

The Red Sox continue to spend money, this time signing Shane Victorino to a 3 year deal worth $39 million. $13 million per season seems like a lot for a 32 year old who has never hit 20 homeruns in a season and had an OBP of .321 last year, and slugged .383.

He's a decent fielder, but who cares? He steals bases, and again, who cares? He doesn't hit for power, he doesn't get on base, and he'll be paid $13 million next year. Why? It just baffles me.

For 2013 the Sox have committed $31 million to Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. That's a significant chunk of cash for a backup outfielder, a decent first-baseman, and a glorified Carl Crawford.

It seems weird to give Shane Victorino so much money yet be so stingy with Cody Ross.

Do these seem like wise spending decisions? Thankfully, all of these deals are short-term.

Here's what I think the Red Sox are trying to do: They want the 2013 and 2014 Red Sox to finish above .500, and at least seem close to contending during the summer. That will keep fans interested, keep Fenway's seats full (at least keep tickets "distributed"), and create the illusion of improvement.

To actually fix the problems with this team will take 3 or 4 years. I think the Sox know this. What they're doing is overpaying for marginal temporary improvements while the long-term solutions are being addressed. It's like overpaying for a condo while your house is being built. Because the alternative is being left out in the rain.

Once again, PR and ticket sales seem to be steering this team's decision-making.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

How Short Is Too Short for an NHL Season?

The NHL has canceled all games until December 14th, along with the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game. For the Boston Bruins, that leaves 53 games on the schedule. And that's enough for a legitimate regular season. But what is the bare minimum number of games for a season?

I put the number at 31. Each team could play 16 divisional games (4 per opponent), then 10 games in the conference (1 per opponent), then 5 games against the other conference (each division in the Eastern Conference would face another division in the Western Conference, so for example the Northeast Division could play the Pacific Division). 31 total games. Just enough to determine divisional winners, and the top 8 from each conference.

The Bruins would have 31 games left on their schedule on February 6th.

Another possible answer is a 36 game schedule, with 16 divisional games and 20 conference games (2 against each opponent). There'd be no interconference games.

If it's determined that a 40+ game schedule is required, then the deadline for that would be around January 15th. Not to mention the time needed for training, practice, cuts, et cetera. I think 40 is what the NHL might consider a minimum.

I'd guess that the deadline for getting a deal done is the end of this month. If the NHL and NHLPA can't come to terms by New Year's Day, then there will be no hockey until next winter. We are approaching the Zero Hour.

If There Were a College Football Playoff This Season

We're getting a 4 team playoff system next year, but let's fantasize about what that would look like for the 2012 season...

#1 Notre Dame vs. #4 Oregon
#2 Alabama vs. #3 Florida

Notre Dame's defense against Oregon's offense would be fun to watch. And even though Bama and Florida are both in the SEC, this would be the first time they've played this season.

Here's what a 6 team playoff would look like...

First round byes:
#1 Notre Dame
#2 Alabama

#3 Florida vs. #6 Stanford
#4 Oregon vs. #5 Kansas State

It's hard to argue that Stanford and K-State don't deserve title shots. And who wouldn't want to see the Oregon and K-State game?

Here's what a basic 8 team playoff would look like...

#1 Notre Dame vs. #8 LSU
#2 Alabama vs. #7 Georgia
#3 Florida vs. #6 Stanford
#4 Oregon vs. #5 Kansas State

I don't like this. It's too SEC heavy, it has a rematch, and a basic top-8 playoff would diminish the importance of winning conference titles. So let's have an 8 team playoff with the winners of the six BCS conferences given automatic births.

#1 Notre Dame vs. #8 Wisconsin
#2 Alabama vs. #7 Louisville
#3 Florida vs. #6 Florida State
#4 Stanford vs. #5 Kansas State

That's better, but not better enough. Let's only give automatic births to the top 4 BCS conference champions, then give 4 at-large spots based on BCS rankings.

#1 Notre Dame vs. #8 Florida State
#2 Alabama vs. #7 Georgia
#3 Florida vs. #6 Stanford
#4 Oregon vs. #5 Kansas State

So there's still lots of SEC teams, still a rematch, but it does reward winning conferences. What if we expand to a 12 team playoff, give each of the 6 BCS conference winners a spot, and 6 at-large spots. And let's give first round byes to Notre Dame and the top 3 conference winners.

First round byes:
#1 Notre Dame
#2 Alabama
#3 Kansas State
#4 Stanford

#5 Florida vs. #12 Wisconsin
#6 Oregon vs. #11 Louisville
#7 Georgia vs. #10 Florida State
#8 LSU vs. #9 Texas A&M

It's a bit complex, and maybe it's too big. But it gets conference winners involved, and has space for at-large teams to get in. There's also the possibility of upsets. We loves those in the basketball tournament and football's regular season. They'd be even better in a football playoff.

Anyway, all of these systems provide better games than watching Northern Illinois play Florida State. And the potential quantity of good football is much higher. The stakes are also higher, which can only add to the entertainment value. How much more interesting would Louisville/Florida be if there were a chance to advance in the playoffs? How many more people would watch on TV? How many more would travel across the country to see the game?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Red Sox Signing Mike Napoli

According to sources, the Red Sox and Mike Napoli have agreed to a 3 year deal worth $39 million. Napoli would primarily play first-base for the Sox.

I'm not a huge fan of Mike Napoli. A few weeks ago when the Sox were rumored to be pursuing Napoli I wrote about the price of the deal being everything. Napoli isn't worth big money, nor is he worth a long-term deal.

I can live with a 3 year contract at $39 million. That's less money per year than David Ortiz gets. And Napoli can play the field (at multiple positions), and probably won't take 20 weeks to recover from minor injuries. He turned 31 this past October, so he has at least 3 years left in the tank, especially if he plays mostly first-base.

Napoli has a career SLG of .507 and a career OBP of .356. He's shown the capability of being a .600 SLG and .400 OBP kind of guy. But his seasonal performances fluctuate significantly.

He does hit well at Fenway Park. He's slugged .710 in his career at Fenway, and hits a homerun every 10.4 plate appearances. Hopefully that's due to the ballpark more than it's due to the pitchers he's been facing.

This acquisition doesn't propel the Red Sox into World Series contention, but it does fill the gap at first-base, and gives the Sox some flexibility at the catcher position. And it does so without committing a large amount of money for a long time. This is a decent contract for a decent player. One thing the Sox lacked in 2011 and 2012 was decency, on the field and off it.

This isn't a tremendous leap forward, but it's a step in the right direction. Here's what the potential Sox lineup looks like right now.

1. CF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. 1B Napoli
4. DH Ortiz
5. 3B Middlebrooks
6. C Saltalamacchia
7. RF Nava
8. LF Gomes
9. SS Iglesias

It's getting better. Imagine how much Josh Hamilton would beef up the middle of that order. And how Cody Ross would anchor the bottom.

BC Splits Weekend Series With BU

BC coach Jerry York could have tied and broken the all-time wins record for college hockey coaches this weekend. It would have required beating BU twice, and beating BU coach Jack Parker, who is #3 on the all-time wins list. That's a tall order.

BC lost 4-2 on BU's ice Friday night in a chippy, physical game. Saturday night at BC, the Eagles won 5-2 and made sure their coach was able to at least celebrate tying Ron Mason's win record on home ice.

Boston College won thanks to their Power Play. They scored 4 times with a man advantage, and amassed a 4-1 lead after 2 periods. Their 5th goal was the only goal of the game by either team to be scored even-strengthed.

BC's leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau didn't have a point in the 5-2 win. His teammates had to step up on offense and they did. Bill Arnold scored twice. Kevin Whitney had 3 assists. Defensemen Michael Matheson and Teddy Doherty each scored Power Play goals.

Johnny Gaudreau has been driving BC's success this season. But they need offense from other sources to step up when he and his line cool off.

Jerry York will likely break the wins record on the road. The Eagles are in Providence Friday night, then play a tournament in Minnesota.

And despite being 9-2-0 in Hockey East, BC is only 1 point ahead of UNH. And UNH has a game in hand. Those teams meet on January 11th.

Rich Gagnon

Patriots Win Game, Hats, and T-Shirts

The Patriots have now won 10 AFC East titles with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. This franchise won 5 divisional titles before Belichick and Brady. The team's total has tripled to 15 since then. What was once exceptional and rare, has become expected and routine.

It's just a step, though. They don't award rings or throw parades for divisional titles.

One positive to take from this win is that the Patriots can rush the ball. Maybe not at will. But when the opportunity to move the ball on the ground is there, they're capable of capitalizing. Steven Ridley's 19 carries for 71 yards put him past the 1,000 mark on the season. He accumulated a good chunk of those yards on a clock killing drive in the 4th. That drive secured the victory.

Another positive is that despite injuries in every department, this team is able to find ways to win. As not-pretty as this win was, it was without a Pro Bowl tight-end, two offensive linemen, a talented rookie defensive end, another good defensive end, and so on.

Some negatives include Stephen Gostkowski. He's missed 3 of his last 7 field goal attempts. He's 80.1% on the year which is 21st in the NFL. All 5 of his misses have been between 30 and 49 yards, so these are kicks that an NFL kicker should make.

And don't forget that the Pats are a 42 yard Gostkowski miss from being 10-2 instead of 9-3.

Speaking of inconsistency, the offense that spoiled us with 40+ point games struggled to move the ball at times yesterday. Give significant credit to Miami's pass rush for that.

For this team to be successful, everyone needs to do their job. The field goal kicker needs to kick field goals. The wide receiver needs to catch the ball. The defensive players need to prevent points.

When everyone does their job this is the best team in the NFL. From this point on, it's all a question of execution.

Pats host the Texans next Monday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/John Bazemore