Ron Borges of The Boston Globe dismisses an emerging mini-controversy that has arose in the wake of Sunday's game in Cleveland. Up 35-7, the Patriots continued to blitz and throw deep, pushing their lead to 42-7. Some thought such play calling to be unnecessary and possibly related to Bill Belichick's rocky days as Browns coach. Borges does not agree. "There is no mercy rule in professional athletics. There's no private agreement to not embarrass your opponent, either. No one takes a knee in the NFL when given the opportunity to put one in their opponent's throat instead," contends Borges.
Marvin Pave of the Globe looks ahead to this weekend's home showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that thrashed the Patriots 31-0 in the preseason. Pave focuses in on Bengals QB Carson Palmer, the former Heisman trophy winner in his second NFL season. Palmer has turned his game up a notch the last several weeks after an inconsistent start.
Pave also spotlights defensive lineman Ty Warren, who has shown considerable improvement in this, his second, NFL season.
In The Boston Herald, Kevin Mannix dishes out grades to the individual units. High marks go, once again, to the running backs and the offensive line, as well as the defensive line. The low grade in the class goes to the quarterbacks, as Mannix points out "young Mr. Brady has struggled mightily the past two weeks."
Rich Thompson of the Herald also looks at Palmer, who has received high praise from Belichick.
Thompson looks at Warren as well. "Warren enjoyed his statistical high-water mark in the Patriots' 27-19 victory in Kansas City on Nov. 22. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman recorded seven solo tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble against the Chiefs," writes Thompson.
George Kimball of the Herald discusses Cleveland's courtship of Scott Pioli, the Patriots Vice-President of Player Personnel. Kimball notes the situation could develop the way Belichick's migration from the Jets to New England did. "If it comes down to a Belichick-like deal that includes, say, high draft choices, everyone concerned might have to reconsider the bounds of loyalty," writes Kimball. "In fact, if the ransom gets high enough, Pioli might feel honor-bound to take it for the good of the Patriots."
Tom Curran of The Providence Journals looks at the season to date, asserting the Patriots have played poorly for only five disastrous minutes in Pittsburgh this season. "During that span, Ty Law broke his foot, Plaxico Burress caught a 47-yard touchdown pass over Randall Gay, Tom Brady got strip-sacked by Joey Porter, Burress pulled in a 4-yard scoring pass and -- finally -- Brady got picked off by Deshea Townsend, who returned the throw 39 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-3," writes Curran.
In his notebook, Paul Kenyon of the Journal addresses a topic that has been blown way out of proportion, that of Corey Dillon's final carry against the Browns. "The questioners wondered whether Dillon was worried about his personal numbers -- about reaching the century mark -- rather than following the team line that has become the Patriots' trademark," writes Kenyon.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant looks at the remaining schedules of the Steelers and Patriots in an attempt to forecast where the two teams will meet in the playoffs. Pittsburgh certainly has a more challenging schedule, but the Patriots need them to lose a game in order to host a potential AFC-Championship match-up.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News delves into the Dillon situation, reporting on comments made by the hard-running back's agent, Steve Feldman. "While Dillon is believed to have several incentives in his contract for total rushing yards, 'he absolutely, positively has no incentive clause in his contract that would be reached by having him reach 100 yards in a game,' Feldman said yesterday."
In his notebook, Reiss covers Troy Brown's interception, the surging Bengals, and Belichick's views on pulling his starters when the game is in hand.
Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call reminds us that the Patriots must win their remaining four games before anyone starts to worry about Pittsburgh's results. "Considering they've won 26 of their last 27 games, it's almost second nature to assume the Patriots will win their remaining games, but the road might end up being harder than it looks," writes Parente.
In his notebook, Parente covers Dillon's 100, the injury forecast for Sunday, and the Patriots "height" unit that swatted down a Hail Mary pass attempt at the end of the first half in Cleveland.
If you enjoy News Blitz, you might want to check out www.bostonsportsmedia.com where Bruce Allen also offers links to what the media is saying about the Patriots as well as the other Boston sports teams. Allen also includes commentary on the media and does a good job holding everyone accountable.