Mike Lowe of the Portland Press Herald writes that given the state of the AFC East, where only Miami seems to have a solid organization in place, it's fairly predictable that the Patriots once again will be in contention for the division crown - and another playoff berth. Yes, the Pats lost Eric Mangini, one of the bright up-and-coming coaches in the NFL, to the New York Jets. But they replaced him almost immediately, promoting linebackers coach Dean Pees to defensive coordinator. Pees has overseen the defense's most impressive unit the last two seasons and no one expects a drop-off in perform- ance. But the Patriots do have some big decisions to make. They have 17 unrestricted free agents, a list headed by kicker Adam Vinatieri, wide receiver David Givens and offensive linemen Steve Neal and Tom Ashworth.
The Providence Journal offers it's NFL notebook and reports that the Buffalo Bills have hired former Chicago Bears coach, Dick Jauron as their head coach. Jauron becomes Buffalo's fourth head coach since Marv Levy retired after the 1997 season. Jauron had only one winning season with Chicago, going 13-3 in 2001, when he was named the NFL's coach of the year.
Deciding the value of David Givens, getting a read on who to bring back from a permissive secondary and diagnosing what's left in Corey Dillon's gas tank are big offseason question marks for the Patriots. The Providence Journal offers some interesting statistics to keep in mind.
Ron Borges of the *Boston Globe * takes a look at how the Seattle Seahawks will attack Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense in Super Bowl XL.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.