ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Josh McDaniels is scheduled to interview with the Browns this Saturday. Due to league rules, though Cleveland can interview McDaniels, the team is not allowed to offer him a contract until the Patriots' season is finished. The interview is expected to take place in the New England area.
As the McDaniels story is dominating news out of New England at the start the new year, Field Yates of ESPN Boston took a look back at the top five Patriots storylines of 2013. Welker's depature in March came in at #5 on the list, while Brady's contract restructure came in at #4. Gronk and his many injuries and surgeries came in at #2. To top the list, Yates picked the Patriots resiliency throughout the 2013 season to finish at #1.
"Season highlights include thrilling come-from-behind wins against the Saints, Broncos, and Browns. They overcame second-half deficits, made clutch plays with the game on the line, and displayed a don't-count-us-out mentality that bodes well as they prepare for another postseason run," said Yates.
As the Patriots await to know who their opponent will be, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald explains how New England offense will need to continue to implement a run-heavy gameplan.
"The Patriots don't need LeGarrette Blount to continue mimicking Jim Brown in order to win Super Bowl XLVIII, but the offense's commitment to the running game absolutely will translate to success in the playoffs," writes Howe.
Howe points out that New England was more run-heavy in victory than the average team this year. In their 12 wins, the Patriots ran the ball 44.6 percent of the time. In comparison, during the Patriots' four losses, the they ran it on 30.9 percent of their plays.
Continuing with the playoff previewing, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe explains that if you're a Patriots fan, you want to play the Cincinnati Bengals. He believes that Cincinnati has the worst coach-quarterback combination in the AFC playoffs and that they would provide a winning formula for the Patriots.
"To beat any Patriots team in Foxborough in January, you need two things: You need a coach who is not afraid of Bill Belichick and you need an elite (or at least semi-elite) quarterback," claims Shaughnessy. "Lewis and Dalton would be just what the doctor ordered for the Patriots."
WEEI's Christopher Price notes that the Patriots will have to rely heavily on its rookies in the postseason -- more so than any other year. New England has 22 players on its active roster that have never played a playoff game, including 15 rookies. The last Patriots team to feature more than nine rookies on its active roster was 2010, when New England was embarassed at home losing in the divisional round to the Jets 28-21. Price also notes that the Patriots have at least six more rookies on their 53-man roster than the next closest AFC Playoff team. If the Patriots are to have success this year, the rookies will need to play like veterans.
Boston.com*'s Chad Finn compiled another list as we look forward into 2014. Finn created a slideshow of 'Boston's Rising Stars to Watch in 2014' which included Patriots RB Shane Vereen, WR Aaron Dobson, and CB Logan Ryan.
The Rutgers-to-Foxborough football pipeline delivered a potential future cornerstone to the Patriots in Ryan, a third-round choice in the 2013 NFL Draft who suddenly looks like a steal," says Finn. "Ryan leads all rookies with five interceptions, including two against the Ravens."
This morning, Boston.com shared a video that Hulk Hogan posted on his Facebook page. In the video, Hogan shares his support for the Patriots and even claims he wants to help the team get to the Super Bowl if they need his strength.