Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe discusses the topic of home-field advantage in the playoffs. Both the Patriots and Steelers are 12-1, and should they finish with the same record, Pittsburgh would earn the top seed by virtue of their victory over the Patriots on Halloween. As Cafardo points out, the Patriots earned their trip to the Super Bowl in the 2001 playoffs by winning the AFC Championship on the road, in Pittsburgh, but benefited favorably from home-field advantage throughout last year's playoffs.
Cafardo also reports on the progress of cornerback Ty Law. Law, who has been sidelined with a broken foot since the game in Pittsburgh, was upgraded from "out" to "doubtful" for this Monday's game. Though it is unlikely he will play this week, Law could very well see some action next week in New York.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald writes about the Pats defense. In the wake of the Cincinnati game, in which the defense surrendered 28 points and a country mile's worth of passing yards, Bill Belichick believes the defense's play is not good enough to win in the playoffs.
In his notebook, Felger covers Law's progress, the injury to David Givens, and how the Dolphins can still get up for a game with a 2-11 record.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal features Miami defensive end Jason Taylor. Taylor, one of the league's finest defensive players, has maintained his grace and integrity aboard the Dolphins sinking ship, as many others around him have sniped or even bailed.
The Journal reports on Charlie Weis' malpractice suit against the doctors who performed his bypass surgery two years ago.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant contrasts this season's experience with last season's. As Greenberg illustrates, last season was a weekly roller coaster ride, as the Pats won many of their games in nail biting fashion. Conversely, this year's Patriots team has had little drama to deal with, having played less than a handful of close games.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call looks ahead to Monday night's game in Miami, and notes the game will have an unusual feel to it. Most years, a New England-Miami game in December has had major playoff implications, as both teams have enjoyed considerable success over the last decade. This year, however, represents a far cry from those days, as the 2-11 Dolphins will be playing for nothing but pride and respect.