Wednesday brought a convergence of media to Gillette Stadium for press conferences and player access as preparations ramped for Sunday's AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium between the heavily-favored Patriots and the upstart Colts.
While much of the week will be spent breaking down matchups in the game that might allow Indy to pull off the upset, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy comes out of the gates stating that "the Colts have no chance to beat the Patriots." Hard to imagine Bill Belichick using that as motivational material for his troops this week.
Ben Volin seems to be taking the matchup a bit more seriously for Boston's broadsheet and his On Football analysis looks at how the Colts are a different team than the one the Patriots blew out 42-20 on Nov. 16 in Indianapolis. The Globe also looks at the Patriots defense keeping opponents from scoring second-half touchdowns.
In stark contrast to Shaughnessy, Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley cautions not to "put the Patriots in the Super Bowl yet." The Herald also has Troy Brown breaking down some of the Patriots top "gamers" who can be counted on in the postseason. Rob Ninkovich has been one of those linemen who Andrew Luck has been quit kind to after a sack. Luck is obviously a guy the Patriots need to pay plenty of attention to on Sunday.
The Provident Journal quotes Belichick emphasizing that his team's past experience in conference title games probably doesn't have much of a bearing on what will happen against the Colts.
Jonas Gray had a breakout 201-yard, four-touchdown rushing effort during the regular season blowout of the Colts, so it's no surprise that ESPNBoston.com relates that the young running back drew a big media crowd in the Gillette Stadium locker room. Lee Schechter passes also passes along Belichick's high praise of Luck. ESPNBoston.com has Brady getting amped up this week, even though he's prepping for his ninth AFC title game.
WEEI.com has Belichick making it clear that the Colts are "the toughest team" the Patriots have faced all year. Jerry Thornton's blog on WEEI.com rightfully calls out former Ravens linebacker and current ESPN analyst Ray Lewis for saying on Sirius radio that, "the only reason we know — I'm just being honest! — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule!"
Rob Gronkowski was a beast in the regular season battle with the Colts and big No. 87 is ready for battle against Indy again, writes WEEI.com. The site also has a column wondering if this is the Patriots last, best chance to win a fourth Super Bowl with Belichick and Brady.
CSNNE.com notes that Brady was so openly talking about his getting anxious for this game that he let an "S-bomb" slip during his press conference that was airing live on NFLN. Phil Perry breaks down one of the big plays that pushed the Patriots into the title game, last Saturday's double-pass from Brady to Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola. Perry also notes Belichick saying that he loves coaching Brandon LaFell, those comments from Belichick's weekly breakdown of key plays leading to victory right here on Patriots.com.
NFL.com has a pretty extensive preview of the Patriots matchup with the Colts.
Finally, Rex Ryan was introduced as the new head coach of the Bills and not surprisingly stirred up some controversy in his opening press conference. Beyond seemingly guaranteeing that Buffalo would make the playoffs after a 15-year postseason drought, Ryan also once again declares that he's not afraid of the Patriots. "We're not afraid of anybody," Ryan said of the Patriots, via ESPN.com. "Certainly not afraid of them."