Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe looks at Jets center, Kevin Mawae, and his league-wide reputation for being a dirty player. "This season, Mawae is playing with a cast on his broken right hand, which has forced him to snap the ball lefthanded," writes Cafardo. "Suffice to say, Mawae has used the cast to make up for not being able to get that hand on opponents."
Cafardo also looks back at a move the Patriots reportedly almost made on draft day 2003, one that would have landed them Jets defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. "After he had a sub par rookie season, the feeling was the Patriots made the right choice, though they took Ty Warren 13th overall that year and he also struggled as a rookie," writes Cafardo.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal examines the Mawae situation, and shows that the label of "dirty" is not necessarily exactly what it sounds like. "It's probably telling that NFL players who are sometimes labeled "dirty" either wind up in the Pro Bowl, playing in the postseason or both," writes Curran.
In his notebook, Curran covers Robertson, and reports some high praise Bill Belichick has for do-it-all running back Kevin Faulk.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call features Brandon Gorin, whose importance is evident despite his back-up status. "Gorin doesn't have the most glamorous job in football, but as New England's third-string tackle, he understands his opportunity to shine could come at any moment," writes Parente.
Parente also looks at Warren and Robertson, noting their potential to become key cogs in the ongoing Pats-Jets rivalry. "They've yet to become mainstays in this Jets-Patriots rivalry like Ty Law or Curtis Martin have, but if they stick around long enough, they could decide how things unfold for the next few years," writes Parente.
The Standard Times runs an AP article about sports ratings in Boston, putting into perspective the recent successes by the Patriots and Red Sox. "There was a rating of 56.6 in the Boston area, better than either of the Patriots' two Super Bowl wins."
In his notebook, Ian Clark of The Union Leader highlights Belichick's ability to move his pieces around. "Belichick covets versatility in his players, and even tried Troy Brown at cornerback in preseason. But the experiments would not last if they didn't work," writes Clark. "Dan Klecko delivered the lead block for [Corey] Dillon on his one-yard touchdown against Seattle in the first quarter and again for a nine-yard Dillon TD run that sealed the win."
XXX of USA Today looks at this weekend's game through the lens of the over-arching New York-New England rivalry. "The point is that New York will hardly be intimidated by the Patriots lengthy winning streak or recent home dominance," writes XXX. "New England is readying for a Jets team with something to prove, a team looking to take over sole possession of first place, remain undefeated, beat the defending champs on the road and make a statement heard around the league by ending the Patriots 20-game winning streak."
Tom Pedulla of USA Today previews the game, which is the latest in the season two undefeated teams have squared off since 1973. "New York's 5-0 beginning is good for the best start in franchise history and a tie with New England atop the AFC East," writes Pedulla. "Still, Jets coach Herman Edwards sees the road game as an uphill battle."
For the second week in a row, ESPN.com has chosen the Patriots game as their Game of the Week. John Clayton says to have two undefeated teams face off is a rare treat to be enjoyed, while Michael Smith says the Jets are trying to follow in the Patriots mold. Merril Hoge compares the starting quarterbacks, and the pundits discuss the running back showdown between Curtis Martin and Corey Dillon.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald features Robertson. "Robertson is now seeing action on more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps. Some analysts compared him to Warren Sapp coming out of college, but through 21 NFL games he has just two sacks," writes Felger.
Felger points out though it is early, this game may factor into the playoff picture down the road. "That's what makes this game so vital, as it is likely to factor heavily into who plays over wild card weekend and who gets to wait for the divisional round," writes Felger.
In his notebook, Felger highlights the importance of Asante Samuel heading into this weekend's game. "With veteran starter Tyrone Poole battling through a balky knee, Samuel has seen his role increase in the Pats defense," writes Felger. "He drew a significant amount of playing time last week against Seattle and was part of a defensive effort that held the Seahawks without a touchdown pass."
The Herald also runs a New York Post article by Mark Cannizzaro comparing the careers of Tom Brady and Jets QB Chad Pennington, who were selected at opposite ends of the 2000 draft. "The outcome of the game will be centered around the performances of the two quarterbacks of similar ability, attitude, toughness and mentality," writes Cannizzaro.
Steve Buckley of the Herald opines the potential Red Sox championship celebration would vastly overshadow the two celebrations the city enjoyed when the Patriots won the Super Bowl. "Not to take anything away from the Patriots, but the understanding has always been: You ain't seen nothing yet," writes Buckley.