The top story of the week surrounding the Patriots-Colts playoff rematch has become the comments of Mike Vanderjagt, Indy's brash kicker. Vanderjagt stated earlier in the week that he believes his team will win, and the media has jumped on it. Partly because the Patrots are not the kind of team you want to provide with bulletin-board material, and partly because Vanderjagt has a history of running his mouth, this has become a national story. Local scribes Nick Cafardoof The Boston Globe, Michael Felgerof The Boston Herald, Alan Greenbergof The Hartford Courant, and Michael Parenteof The Woonsocket Call discuss the special-teamer's special words.
The Standard Times runs an Associated Press article by Howard Ulman detailing some of the Patriots reactions to Vanderjagt's comments.
Tom Brady addressed the media yesterday, and his presence reminded many of the most significant difference between him and Manning. Wins, in big games. People have been quick to right off the Patriots this week, due to key defensive injuries and the juggernaut that is the Indy offense. However, as Cafardo, Felger, and Tom Curranof The Providence Journal remind us, Brady is 6-0 in playoff games, and has won in the situations in which Manning is yet to.
Dan Shaughnessey of the Globe urges fans not to fear Goliath, citing the example of a Bill Russell-led Celtics squad dispatching of Wilt Chamberlain (Goliath).
Christopher Gasper of the Globe features defensive end Jarvis Green, who will be asked for a significant contribution if Richard Seymour is not 100%. In last year's AFC title game, Green thoroughly harassed Manning, getting to him three times for 2.5 sacks.
Felger breaks down the officiating crew that will be in town for Sunday's game. As Felger reminds us, one of the games that prompted this season's emphasis on defensive contact with receivers was last years AFC Championship, in which the Colts were manhandled by the Pats secondary. As Felger reports, the crew that will handle Sunday's game was right in the middle of the pack this season in terms of taking the flags out of their pockets.
Peter Gelzinis of the Herald has a nice feature on former Patriots defensive end Garin Veris. Veris was recently appointed Boston's new director of recreation, meaning he will oversee the expansion of relevance of the city's community sports programs. Veris, a cerebral man with a law degree from Boston College, is happy to be working with kids, and hopes to make a big difference at his new post.
USA Today goes in-depth with a full preview of the Pats-Colts battle. The article includes answers to pertinent questions for both teams, injury reports, and grades for the Pats as they enter the postseason.
Curran contends the Patriots will not let the Indy offense dictate their style of play when they control the ball. Some have suggested the Pats will try desperately to control the clock by running, but as Curran points out, the New England offense has been fairly potent this season as well.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant breaks down the numbers, showing that the Indy defense is not quite as inept as has been suggested.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News speaks of a complete game as the key to a Pats win. Reiss highlights the Patriots ability to wear down opponents on both sides of the ball, a trait not possessed by the Colts.
Parente discusses the balance of the Colts offense, reminding readers that if the Patriots were somehow able to contain the dynamic passing game, the Colts could lead with running back Edgerrin James, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage this season.