Marvin Pave of The Boston Globe leads off with a look at one of the Patriots most distinguishing characteristics: the ability to move pieces around to fill holes. "When it comes to switching positions for the good of the team, some players do it comfortably while others, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, wouldn't even be asked," writes Pave.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald points out this weekend's game in Cleveland comes at an opportune time for those who may be seeking employment. The Patriots have two of the league's top coordinators in Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, both of whom could be candidates for the recently vacated Browns head-coaching position. "As luck would have it for Weis and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, the Pats will be in Cleveland Sunday, providing a platform for the assistants to show their wares in front of Browns owner Randy Lerner," writes Felger.
In his Patriots Insider column, Felger provides an interesting look at some of the players the Patriots have released or traded over the last few years. Felger highlights a very clear pattern of the team knowing exactly when to let a guy go, as if they know exactly what remains in each players' tank. "As good as the Pats are at acquiring players, they may be even better at letting them go. For when it comes to making the right moves on their own guys, no one scores higher than Belichick and Pioli - and this year has just offered more evidence of it," writes Felger.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call reports on the Browns firing of Butch Davis, and discusses possible implications as the Patriots head into Sunday's game. "A move like this could affect how the Patriots prepare for this weekend's game, but Davis' successor for the rest of the year will be offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie and since he's already part of the system, don't expect the Browns to add anything significant to the game plan that will surprise the Patriots on Sunday," writes Parente.
David Pevear of The Lowell Sun looks at Sports Illustrated's decision to name the Boston Red Sox, collectively, as Sportsman of the Year. Pevear thinks they got the region right, but not necessarily the team. "This is not meant to denigrate the Red Sox or their historic October. (OK, maybe it is.) But our precious local football team, winner of two of the last three Super Bowls and 25 of its last 26 games, is again being greatly under-appreciated," writes Pevear.
ESPN.com provides its weekly Power Rankings.
Pete Prisco of CBS.Sportsline.com also gives his Power Rankings, where the Pats again sit at number two behind Pittsburgh. "Every week what they do on defense becomes more and more amazing. They're going to be hard to beat in the playoffs," writes Prisco.
Don Banks of SportsIllustrated.com looks back at Sunday's game with the Ravens and extends his praise for the Pats formidable defense, which really appears to have rounded into form, despite numerous injuries. "I know we all realize this, but it bears repeating: There's no way on God's green earth that New England should be getting away with the current makeup of its secondary," writes Banks. "But the defending Super Bowl champs aren't just surviving with spare parts and fill-ins at one of the game's most pivotal segments of the depth chart, they're thriving."