Here are this morning’s top stories:
Patriots – Colts Divisional Playoff, Who Has The Razor’s Edge? – Steve Balestrieri – Balestrieri has his weekly preview, with a terrific breakdown of which areas each team has the edge heading into tomorrow night’s game.
Patriots, Colts make it a practice of success – Jeff Howe – Both the Patriots and Colts have a combined nine game-winning rives this season, which has led them to tomorrow’s divisional round game at Gillette Stadium.
It’s win or else for Patriots – Steve Buckley – Buckley has a column this morning and writes that we all know the answer to this weekend’s outcome: “If the Pats lose, by any means, fingers will be pointed, heads will roll, feet will be put to the fire.”
Nothing to fear here – Jeff Howe – Howe files his notebook this morning, which leads off with a good read on the toughness of Patriots guard Logan Mankins.
Chatham: Colts far from perfect – Matt Chatham – Chatham files his weekly report and feels that successful playoff preparation is about drop-kicking preconceived notions, and he feels that this match-up is far different from ones in years past.
Gostkowski clutch and Zen some – Mark Daniels – Daniels has an article on Gostkowksi, who apparently sings to himself on the sideline before he goes out and kicks.
Matching Up: Patriots vs Colts – Karen Guregian – Guregian goes through position-by-position and looks at how the two teams match-up.
Battered Patriots soldier on – Ben Volin – Volin has a good read this morning on the Patriots injury situations from this season, with a terrific illustration at the top that you’ll definitely want to check out if you haven’t seen it.
Stephen Gostkowski carrying on Patriots kicking legacy – Michael Whitmer – Whitmer has an article on Gostkowksi, who points out that for more than half of the Patriots 54 football-playing seasons, one of three men has held the placekicking job and Gostkowski is part of that group.
Words With Frenz mailbag: Brandon Spikes injury doesn’t ruin Patriots defense – Erik Frenz – Frenz his mailbag for this week and talks about the loss of Spikes and how New England’s defense can still manage to win without him.
Time for Danny Amendola to shine now – Christopher Gasper – Gasper files a column on Amendola and writes that the team’s second-leading receiver hasn’t made much noise on or off the field, and he needs to standout during the playoffs, not blend in.
Week off was welcome for Logan Mankins – Shalise Manza Young – Manza Young files her notebook this morning, which leads off with Mankins saying he was glad the team won the season finale, and that the bye week was “huge” and that it was nice for everyone to be able to get an extra week of treatment in.
Colts’ TY Hilton will be targeted by both teams – Julian Benbow – Benbow has an article on Hilton, who expects the Patriots to use up as many coverages as possible to keep the ball out of his hands tomorrow night.
Are fans suffering from Patriots ‘playoff fatigue?’ – Beth Teitell – Teitell has an article on the fact that the Patriots have been to the playoffs so many times, fans actually turned down a chance to buy playoff tickets when they were first offered in mid-November.
Quick hits from Pats locker room – Field Yates – Yates has some quick notes from yesterday’s locker room session, with quotes from several players including Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowksi, and Danny Amendola.
Projecting the Patriots’ inactives – Mike Reiss – Reiss has a list of players he predicts will be inactive tomorrow night, with Isaac Sopoaga and Aaron Dobson among the two more glaring ones.
Ankle injury can’t sideline Logan Mankins – Rich Garven – Garven has an article on Mankins, who didn’t let an ankle injury stop him in the season-finale against the Bills two weeks ago.
Stephen Gostkowski succeeds as kicker with low-key approach – Rich Garven – In this piece Gostkowski credits his success to remaining low key in a heightened situation.
Bell: Tom Brady aside, Patriots lacking Super Bowl pedigree – Jarrett Bell – Bell talked to rookie Chris Jones who helped set the premise that out of everyone who will be active this weekend, Tom Brady is the only player left that has “been there, done that” when it comes to winning a Super Bowl ring.
WALL STREET JOURNAL:
Bill Belichick Smiled Seven Times This Season – Geoff Foster – Foster went back through all the postgame press conferences from this season and tallied seven grins from the Patriots coach, and includes screenshots and the circumstances surrounding each one.