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NFL Power Rankings Week 13: Jets provide plenty of laughs for Patriots

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 30, 2012 08:06 PM

(Viewer Caution - Videos contains a naughty word you heard your father say several thousands times during this past Red Sox season, some irate fans and the most pathetic team in football)

It's time for the last of the leftover turkeys. The Patriots have all but won the AFC East. Sunday's game against the Dolphins might have been a trap game earlier this season, but the Patriots are running as efficiently now as they have any time since 2007. So let's take a brief look at what the Patriots left in their wake last week.

Here's the same half-time debacle during the Jets Thanksgiving game from a slightly different angle - with even more zingers:

Among the printable gems:

"You are pathetic. Every one of you."

"You guys are a disgrace!"

"You should be ashamed of yourselves!"

"Tebow, save us!"

"Sanchez! You suck!"

"Might as well take off the second half too!"

"Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!"

"Sparano you're fired!"

"Nick Folk you're my hero."

And there's more. It wasn't just at the stadium. Check this clip that someone posted of their dad. This guy should take over for the late Fireman Ed. "I think he's a little ticked," his son says. You think?

Bart Scott said the Gang Green Faithful who ripping the Jets as walked off the field at halftime of their Thanksgiving beatdown by the Patriots at MetLife Stadium were probably "picked last in dodgeball through high school" and because of that he doesn't care about their opinion.

ed2.jpgBeautiful.

All this and the end of Fireman Ed.

It doesn't get any better than this.

The same week the Patriots saw another player suspended for PED usage - Adderall anyone? - the Jets continued to implode in the wake of their Thanksgiving collapse. Drug suspensions are nothing when your self-proclaimed "super fan" bails after a 30-point loss. The Patriots might be the 2012 NFL answer to the 1986 Mets. But like those Mets, these Patriots could very well end their clouded season with a championship. Meanwhile, we'll take this week's Football Power Rankings space to celebrate the demise of the Jets because: 1. We can. 2. They are the Jets. 3. All of the above.

The fans who railed against the Jets on field level were sitting in the Coaches Club section, according to the New York Daily News, seats that cost $700 per game and come with PSLs that start at $20,000. Was Scott surprised it was the fans in the most expensive seats in the house who ripped into his team? “No,” he told the newspaper. “Those are the ones who feel more entitled. I would love to go to his job and see what he does and sit in his ear and talk stuff.”

Meanwhile, it took Fireman Ed 37 years to realize New York Jets fans aren't worth it.

Slow learner.

Fireman Ed's public demise just coincidentally came in the wake of Thanksgiving's 49-19 destruction of his beloved franchise. Think he was back at MetLife Stadium wearing an Eli Manning jersey during Sunday night's Giants victory over Green Bay.

Ed's excuse - that he he bailed on the Jets publicly because of too many "confrontations" with fellow fans over his Mark Sanchez jersey - sounds about as valid as "the You Tube video did it."

Speaking of You Tube videos - I'd say this clip probably had a bit more to due with Ed's public exit and his fellow obnoxious New Jersey fans:

Ed penned his public obituary in Metro New York by writing: "Whether it's in the stands, the bathroom or the parking lot, these confrontations are happening on a consistent basis, Although I can 'hold my own,' I do not want to lose my temper and make a stupid mistake. I have a responsibility to the families and kids that enjoy the game and Fireman Ed."

Lucky for the world, Fireman Ed will still go to Jets games, but he'll just be plain old Ed Anzalone. Gotta love a guy who cowards out on the world but reassures us that he can "hold his own."

Ed isn't the only one bailing on the Jets these days. By the time Lenny Kravitz took the stage at halftime on Thanksgiving it looked like the only people left in the stands were either sticking around to curse out their team or waiting to file paternity suits against Antonio Cromartie. Lenny's performance was reminiscent of the band playing on the Titanic. Funnier still were the "Belicheat" tweets that Jets fans and sports writers were peppering the internet with as the Patriots gleefully ran up the score. Every time the Patriots pummel the Jets, the subject of "Spygate" comes up. That Thanksgiving night also marked the first time Rex Ryan ever begged to have someone take their foot off his throat.

The Jets are a true obscenity in the fact that they are "utterly without redeeming social value" at this point. They are not a good team on the field, off the field, in the front office, in the stands and even in the media. This isn't just another anti-New York rant. The Yankees and Giants have - to varying degrees - tormented us for generations and both have won championships since man walked on the the moon. The Jets won their Super Bowl six months before Neil Armstrong took his "great leap for mankind." They knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs two years ago and have been in freefall ever since. And they're not just a bad team. They're a bad team - with poor ownership, a sorry history, endless hype and fickle fans - that never seems to go away.

Don't take my word for it:

And at least I wasn't driving while I wrote this.

The Jets have become more Red Sox than the Red Sox. Speaking of the Sox, hope you were able get through the virtual waiting room Saturday and get some of those coveted April tickets against the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox had their worst finish in my lifetime in 2012 but still posted their 404,034,857th consecutive sellout. Fan interest hit maniacal levels as things fell apart. Those who bailed did so out of disgust over too much double-fisting in the clubhouse, Josh Beckett's work ethic or the contemptible disrespect initially shown toward Johnny Pesky. As much as the Red Sox would love to have their own version of "Fireman Ed" - perhaps "Policeman Patrick" - there isn't a pink-hatted Red Sox fan Massholish enough to take on that role because he or she knows they wouldn't last into the third inning. "Ed" was beloved at Shea/Giants/MetLife Stadium for parts of five decades because he was just a regular fan in a fire helmet who just got carried away and could spell a simple four-letter word. Plenty of fans can spell four-letter words. Who knew that he was a role models to millions of children? If he wanted to let people know what he thought, all he had to do was start his own blog. Any idiot can do that.

The Jets even managed to screw up the only decent story they had this year in mismanaging Tim Tebow before word got out that Tebow had two broken ribs. He used a third rib to make Eve. Tebow was called "terrible" by his teammates after throwing all of seven passes this season. Last time we checked, he won eight games last season before leading the Broncos to a playoff victory in overtime against Pittsburgh. That will be one more playoff victory than the Jets will have in the entire calendar years of 2012 and 2013 (remember the 2013 NFL playoffs don't start until January of 2014).

Coincidentally, Super Bowl XLVIII will be played at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, 2014. Something tells us the Jets will need a ticket to watch that one in person.

Time for this week's rankings. Teams are listed with their records and rankings from two weeks ago. We took a holiday bye.

FULL ENTRY

Adderall drug of choice for Patriots, NFL

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 27, 2012 11:32 AM

Cunningham.jpg

When in doubt, blame Adderall.

It doesn't carry the baggage of steroids, HGH or even illicit painkillers.

Jermaine Cunningham is the latest to hop on board the Adderall bandwagon after word came out about his suspension for four games without pay for violation of the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

A league source told the Globe's Greg Bedard that Cunningham tested positive for Adderall, which like Ritalin is often prescribed to individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Why pick Adderall as the banned substance of choice? Drugs like it are widely used for common medical and behavioral problems, especially in children. There are some of us who take steroids every day to survive, but most folks aren't aware of their positive effects. Adderall and drugs like it are different. "Hey," Football Mom says, "My kid takes that so he can concentrate in math class. Why are they banning him for that?" So even if the positive was for something more sinister - or politically incorrect - using Adderall as a crutch is much more publicly acceptable.

The common football excuse for the use of Adderall is because it supposedly provides players with tunnel vision and focus.

Unless Cunningham decides to fess up, we'll never know for sure what substance triggered the positive test in his case since the league's policy is for silence on these issues. Players are given a letter detailing their positive test and the evidence that cause it. But they are not forced to disclose any of the details. So there's no way for sure to determine if the positive was for Adderall, HGH, steroids or even that estrogen that Manny Ramirez used as a masking agent.

The unofficial count makes Cunningham the 26th player suspended by the league since the start of the 2012 season for violations of the PED policy and at least six of those players - including Richard "U Mad Bro" Sherman of the Seahawks and Aqib Talib of the Patriots - have blamed Adderall. Patriots running back Brandon Bolden is serving a four-game suspension for an unnamed PED violation. New England linebacker Brandon Spikes of the Patriots was flagged for a PED violation two years ago when he was a rookie.

Sherman's excuse was beyond the "dog ate my homework." In his case, it was reported he claimed that he inadvertently drank from a bottle belonging to a teammate that contained a crushed Adderall pill. The unnamed teammate had a prescription for the drug. Sherman has since denied that account. He had no answer to this:

Players who take Adderall - or any other banned substance - using a prescription are allowed to do so if they follow proper procedure and paperwork. They face immediate suspension if they fail to do so and test positive. Former Patriots running back Heath Evans took Adderall and Ritalin via prescription to help him deal with learning disorders and detailed the procedure during a recent appearance on WEEI's "Mut and Merloni" show. Evans said Adderall "doesn't make you some monster" like other steroids might and filled out the appropriate paperwork so the league would not object. "It's a hassle to file all that paperwork, but it's very, very simple," Evans said. "So, with the Adderall and the Ritalin, if the players get busted for that stuff, they're just stupid. You know what? It's their fault, they should be suspended for four games just for being dumb. Not for taking Ritalin or Adderall - you're suspended for four weeks because you're an idiot."

The positive test for Cunningham and his fellow Patriots leave fans and others wondering when the next needle will drop. Will Tom Brady test positive for Tiger Blood? How about Vince Wilfork pulling a positive for extra Tryptophan after demolishing that turkey on NBC after Thursday night's win over the Jets? No doubt Danny Woodhead, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are overloaded on God-given testosterone given their ability to take a beating.

The NFL's testing policy is so simple even Sherman could understand it. Players are tested before signing a free-agent or rookie contract, they are subject to testing six times in the offseason and 10 randomly-selected players on each team are subject to random testing during the regular season and playoffs, with players tested on game days. That doesn't include players who are tested because of previous drug-related issues. So there's a reasonable chance you'll be tested at random and a 100 percent chance you'll be tested if you've been in trouble before.

So why do it? That answer is obvious - players are always looking for edge. The desperation to make the pros that marginal types like Cunningham and Bolden feel makes the lure of PEDs too tempting, same with Spikes when he was a rookie. Technically, they're all cheaters. The Adderall excuse makes them more foolish than evil. Not all PED suspensions are created equal in the mind of the public.

These are desperate times across the board - not just in the NFL. The heightened violence of Thursday night's game between the Patriots and Jets - with bone-crushing hit after ass-ramming hit - was matched with the mayhem and ferocity of shoppers beating each other up over deals at Wal-Mart on "Black Friday." The wide-world of sports also is full of cheaters - Lance Armstrong, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, the Chinese Olympic team.

These drug suspensions are so much the new Patriot Way as much as they are the new American Way. The quest for shortcuts and quick-answers is never ending. Lose weight fast. Earn easy money at home. Want to win the $500 million Powerball jackpot Wednesday night - click here. People cut corners on their taxes, skirt the rules at work, or hire political operatives with seven accidents and 34 entries on their driving record to run the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division.

Football players are no better or worse. The issue for the NFL and its fans is does the league have a serious drug problem now? Or are things no different than they were in the days of "North Dallas Forty" and Lyle Alzado, it's just that the testing is a lot better and more widespread? Suppose the NFL could follow the lead of the voters in Colorado and Washington state, who went miles toward eliminating their states' drug problems by simply legalizing marijuana. For public relations purposes, it would be preferable in our PC culture to have an NFL team free of players with drug suspensions, arrest records or child-support problems. But that's unrealistic, as if would be for any workplace to be only inhabited by choir boys and vestal virgins. The "Patriots" brand is taking a beating but it's nothing that a fourth Lombardi Trophy won't cure.

Cunningham and Spikes attended the University of Florida, where the original liquid performance-enhancing substance - Gatorade - was invented by Dr. Robert Cade back in 1965. They might have an natural affinity for this kind of thing. One thing is certain, if those ex-Gators took and managed to pass CHM 1025, they probably would have figured out a way to avoid getting a positive read on whatever PED it was they were using.

The Hoodie, in all his verbosity, simply called Cunningham's suspension "unfortunate" and then passed it off as a "league discipline matter" saying the team's drug woes "are what they are." Something tells us that Cunningham, Talib (who was acquired by the Patriots while serving his drug suspension), Bolden or any other player suspended for a PED violation will have a place on the Patriots as long they remain productive on the field. The Patriots' drug issues have given their haters more fuel to add onto the "SpyGate" legend. If they manage to win that elusive fourth Super Bowl in New Orleans this February, the same buffoons who were posting tweets about "Belicheat" during Thursday's evisceration of the Jets will no doubt chime in with shots about how the Patriots need an asterisk for all that Adderall.

That's one asterisk we'll live with, even if we have to chase it down with a little humility on the side.

Don't miss the return of our weekly NFL Power Rankings Saturday as we take a special look at the beloved New York Jets and offer our ode to Fireman Ed. And join us Sunday at 1 p.m. for our in-game Patriots-Dolphins fan chat. Dolphins fans can get a deal on anti-depressants at any South Florida pain clinic. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

Patriots-Jets fan chat

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 22, 2012 07:38 PM

Join the conversation about tonight's Patriots-Jets game at 8:15 p.m.

Time for Belichick to stay after class

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 19, 2012 08:15 AM

Belichick Back to School.jpg

With Rob Gronkowski out for at least four weeks with a broken arm suffered while blocking for an extra point after the last touchdown in a 59-24 victory over the Colts, here's today's punishment for Bill Belichick. In the spirit of Bart Simpson, try this 500 times on the blackboard:


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That should do it.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

NFL Power Rankings Week 11: Spikes gives Patriots jagged edge

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 16, 2012 11:40 AM

Spikes AP.jpgNo apologies.

Few regrets.

Unlimted passion.

Brandon Spikes doesn't back off from anyone.

This Sunday, it will be rookie phenom Andrew Luck in his sights - along with anyone who happens to be carrying or catching the ball. Given the success of the Bills last week, Luck could hit the 500-yard passing mark against New England tomorrow. The Colts are ranked 14th in rushing in the league (109.4 yards per game) and the Patriots have had success stopping mediocre running teams. The Patriots - includning Spikes, Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork - have had limited success putting pressure enough pressure on QBs at times this season. That will be the key against Luck, who can consistently connect with his receivers given enough time.

Spikes wasn't about to apologize for his hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick last week and wasn't phased at all when Fitzpatrick called him a "punk." Spikes doesn't hold back on Twitter, either, as we saw earlier this year when he chimed in the officiating in the Patriots' loss to the Ravens with his line: “Can someone please tell these f------ zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work!!!! #BreakingPoint." That came about 24 hours before the epic Monday night game between the Seahawks and Packers that gave us the season's highpoint on social media thanks to T.J. Lang and about half the NFL.

He late stepped in it with a couple of weeks later with his ill-fated attempt at humor featuring homophobia and spiders. “I’m homophobic just like I’m arachnopobic. I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I’d still scream if I found one in my bathtub!’’ Spikes was hammered by followers and others and three hours issued a sort-of-non-apology by tweeting: “PEOPLE!!!! It’s a joke …seriously a JOKE!!! Chill out.’’ Not sure why he went there, or where he was headed with this line Friday: "Real ninjas never got to say no homo. #ImTru."

Friday he was fined $25,000 for his hit on Fitzpatrick, making it a total of $46,000 in fines in two games against Buffalo this season. His blindside hit on Scott Chandler during an interception run-back on Sept. 30 earned him a $21,000 penalty. No hard feelings. Plenty of hard knocks.

Most of his Twitter activity is fairly benign and spiced with occasional profanity. Friday's topics included his favorite NBA team, the Lakers, and a rare visit to McDonald's.

In case you were wondering, the Lakers beat Phoenix 114-102.

None of it seems to make any sense. Except maybe to Spikes. All that violence on the field needs an outlet and some balance off of it. Spikes doesn't come off as any sort of a thug on social media - profanity or occasional offensive comment notwithstanding. He's willing to engage and interact, much like the way plays. But the only thing he's ever bruised on Twitter was someone's sensibility or ego.

Spikes is truly politically incorrect in every real sense of the phrase. That brings cheers on the field even when that brings hefty fines and condemnation off it.

Kevin Garnett was chided as being a "fake tough guy" for his trash-talking that isn't always backed up with hard-inside play. There's nothing fake about Spikes' toughness, which has been evident on the playing field since his days terrorizing the SEC - not to mention Ohio State and Oklahoma in two BCS championship games. Those hits, even if they come after missed tackles and first downs, leave a toll. If the fear of getting flattened by Spikes causes a receiver to flinch for just a half-second before the ball arrives, that could be the difference between an incompletion and another opposition first down.

When he was a starter at UF, Spikes and the rest of the Gators defense was overshadowed by the presence of one Tim Tebow, who managed to pull out a few clutch victories in his college days.

Spikes is lost in the shadow of his quarterback in Foxborough, too. The Patriots, like the Gators of Tebow, will only go as far as their quarterback will take them. The Patriots are Brady's team, but Spikes has emerged as the angry soul of the anguished defense. Since the departure of Tedy Bruschi, the Patriots' defense has been a cowardly lion of sorts - packing plenty of roar but missing a heart, never mind some sharpened claws. Jerod Mayo makes more tackles and fellow captain Vince Wilfork is more of a leader on the field, Spikes simply hits, intimidates, mystifies and tackles opponents. He'll even force a fumble once in a while.

He's fueled by crybabies and whiners like Fitzpatrick - or anyone else who dares to criticize him.

The more you hate him the more he loves it.

Spikes leaves fans perplexed at times with some head-scratching penalties. Whether or not he flexed over But it's hard to take someone who plays with such ferocity and expect him to be completely rational and pensive when he's got a clean shot at Sam Bradford, Shonn Greene or Fitzpatrick.

“I gotta do business as business is being done,” Spikes said this week. “It is what it is.” Spikes had a premonition he'd be fined, telling the Globe: “It takes a little bit of my aggression away, but hey, it is what it is. It’s definitely discouraging, but that’s how I play. I’m physical.”

Physical. Not to mention fierce, fearless and even once in a while foolish.

It's the complete package. Take it or leave it. It's still a combination worth having on this roster and one that might be just enough to elevate the Patriots defense just enough to get this team deep into January.

Welcome Aqib Talib. Too back you can’t cover four receivers at once. Here are this week’s rankings. Notice the trend of starting quarterbacks (Jay Cutler, Mike Vick, Ben Roethlisberger among them) who are out because of injury. This trend is normal this time of year as the brutal NFL season begins to take a toll. So let’s be careful out there. Enjoy and have a happy Thanksgiving.

FULL ENTRY

Luck on Patriots' side against Bills - until they face Colts

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 11, 2012 08:15 PM

Brady WTF.jpg

Winning fugly.

Usually, 37 points at home against a 3-5 team should be enough for a comfortable win and few laughs along the way.

Those 37 points were enough for the Patriots beat Buffalo 37-31 Sunday but they weren't enough to answer any questions about this team's long-term prognosis when it comes to the postseason or even the rest of the irregular season.

The Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick looked as good as any other offense has against the Patriots this season - rolling up 481 total yards and 35 first downs before Devin McCourty found some redemption (if not reclamation) for himself and the secondary with a game-clinching interception in the end zone with 23 seconds to play.

Put down the heart medication, Adderall and Pepto-Bismol. Fire the guns, blast the horn and celebrate, the Patriots are 6-3 and are in firm command of the AFC East.

It is better to be lucky than good. And good luck was definitely on the side of the Patriots Sunday. Next week, Andrew Luck and the resurgent Colts will rip them apart if the defense continues to miss tackles, fails to apply any pressure and blows coverage on mid-range routes across the middle. Troublesome and no-longer suspended cornerback Aqib Talib to the rescue. He might be the biggest in-season acquisition since Chris Christie joined the Obama campaign a week before the election.

Bill Belichick's assessment was simple: "Turnovers were the difference." Indeed - the Bills fumbled twice - including Fred Jackson's drop at the 1 during Buffalo's first possession of the fourth quarter, in addition to having that pick in the end zone during Buffalo's final possession of the fourth quarter. The Patriots' defense was horrible in many facets of the game. "Bend but don't break" somehow defied the laws of physics Sunday. The Bills committed 14 penalties - more than a couple were questionable - for 148 yards. Those two factors, plus New England's offense, were enough to overcome any defensive shortcomings. The Patriots led the NFL in points and yards gained heading into this game - never mind being 11-point favorites - while and the Bills were next to last in points and yards allowed.

The bewildering Patriots defense managed to hold together last season all the way until the final Giants' possession in the Super Bowl. The Patriots face a much tougher stretch schedule this December (at Miami, home vs. Houston and San Francisco) than they did last season. A first-round bye and homefield throughout the playoffs is probably a pipe dream. New England's potential road to New Orleans will be much more demanding and fraught with peril than the road to Indianapolis. Thanks to the current NFL collective bargaining agreement - as Troy Brown pointed out on the Comcast New England post game show - the Patriots have only two padded practices left this season. So the tackling issues demonstrated Sunday probably won't be going away anytime soon, or until they get to blitz Mark Sanchez on Thanksgiving.

Forced turnovers aside, the Patriots brought a whole new meaning to the term "tackling dummies" Sunday. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was getting second-guessed more than the Romney campaign after the game and he carried New England, so to speak. Of course, Patricia is not buying the groceries nor is he even cooking the meal while coaching in Belichick's shadow. Jerod Mayo, Chandler Jones, Brandon Spikes (who continues to hit hard if nothing else), Rob Ninkovich and even Vince Wilfork (who forced a fumble) missed tackles all afternoon. Some of that could be desire of the Patriots to so often go for the ball/strip instead of the sure tackle. And some of that was the ability of the Bills skill players to bounce off half-hearted hits and keep going. The Bills two-pronged rushing attack, led by C.J. Spiller and Jackson, chewed up 162 yards and did it by running at and through the defense, pounding away throughout the day. Arian Foster, Reggie Bush and Frank Gore will enjoy watching that film. And the Texans and 49ers have defenses, too.

Offensively, the Patriots left themselves open to some criticism by their epic 19-second drive mid-way through the fourth quarter that led to the Bills final touchdown. Tom Brady mixed things up again, finding six different receivers, including Danny Woodhead, who scored two touchdowns. Their best moment came when the Patriots were up 10-3 and they connected on two straight completions of 15 and 7 yards starting on a 3rd and 7 at the Bills' 37. Frodo closed that scoring drive out with a run up the middle for 15 yards. Sweet stuff. Brady lost the Fantasy League showdown to Ryan Fitzpatrick 337-237 yards passing and hit on just 23 of 38 attempts. Each threw for 2 TDs, but Brady was without an interception despite two perilous tipped passes. Stevan Ridley crashed through the 800-yard barrier for the season (814) with 98 yards rushing on 22 carries and a touchdown. The Patriots' running game appears to be in good hands as long as Ridley avoids mayhem and continues not to fumble.

Still, the Patriots face the same issues as the Red Sox when it comes having a closer - namely they don't have one - highlighted by the bungled quick-snap on the first and goal during New England's final offensive possession. Another was the disappearance of Brandon Lloyd, who finished with five catches for 45 yards. Lloyd was targeted four times in the second half, catching all four passes, but just totaled 34 yards in the final 30 minutes. Again, Deion Branch and Wes Welker were the go-to clutch guys down the stretch. Welker reversed field and ran a couple of miles to pick up 23 yards on 2nd and 10 from the Buffalo 40 late in the fourth quarter that set up New England's final points. Now why didn't they sign this guy to a long-term deal?

"We had more opportunities to score more points and we didn't. It's frustrating when we don't play as well as we're capable of," said Brady during a very short (it ran all of 176 seconds) post-game presser. "The defense really saved the day."

Karl Rove had more to say Wednesday while he was still looking for votes in Ohio.

Thinking Brady probably wanted to say: "I'm 35. I have a supermodel wife, another kid on the way and a mansion in California bigger than Mitt Romney's. I'd like to win one more Super Bowl so I can retire in one piece and it ain't gonna happen if this crap keeps up." Brady was the same unhappy Tom we saw down the stretch last season. He was furious at times - especially with Julian Edelman who blew blocking coverage when Brady was flattened on a third-quarter sack that knocked Logan Mankins out of action. Love it.

The Patriots are 11-0 at Gillette against the Bills and Brady no doubt found further redemption since Harvard beat Michigan 4-0 the first time they met back on Halloween in 1881. Much more exciting than Brady after the game was Fitzpatrick. The Harvard grad ran out of eloquence in calling Spikes "a punk" twice. Spikes got penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Fitzpatrick during which Fitzpatrick's helmet went flying. This is the NFL. There was clear contact - hence the penalty - but no diving or spearing. Clearly another by-product of his days in Gainesville and in the SEC. Had the Crimson ever found themselves in the Swamp during Fitzpatrick's days in college - Fitzpatrick graduated from Harvard in 2005 while Spikes arrived at UF in 2006 - he would have been lucky to leave the field with his head attached, never mind his helmet. Spikes also reportedly "flexed" while Jackson was hurt, indeed a "punk" move if that was indeed the case.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski continued his run of recent perfection and has been money since Week 1. Another thing the Patriots got right today was the debut of their permanent POW-MIA seat in the end zone seating section. "Thank you veterans," Rob Gronkowski said after the game. Indeed. That is a trend that should catch on and be a permanent staple at every NFL, NBA and major-league baseball venue - along with the NHL if they ever play again.

That was a perfect way for the Patriots to celebrate Veterans Day. But there's no doubt their defense has to spend some more time in the war room if this team hopes to be playing in February.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

NASCAR fight with Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer (Video)

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 11, 2012 07:47 PM

Who said NASCAR wasn't exciting?

Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer battled it out on and off the track Sunday before the finish of the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Bowyer traded paint with Gordon‘s car on lap 305 of the race. Then on the second-to-last lap, Gordon sent Bowyer into the wall, taking out Joey Lagano in the process. That stopped the race, triggering a green-white finish and a massive brawl in the garage area.

Gordon and a member of Bowyer's pit crew began the fight - which escalated when members of both crews got involved. Then Bowyer got out of his car (at the 2:21 mark) and in a move last seen on Monday Night Raw sprinted all the way from his smashed car on pit road to the trailer area looking to join in the fight. ESPN's Alan Bestwick and Dale Jarrett offer the blow-by-blow commentary. Bowyer's crew chief is interviewed after the fight and says a bad word on live TV.

"Things just got escalated over the year, and I'd just had it. Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me, and he got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day. I've had it, fed up with it and I got him back," Gordon said after the race.

Not that anyone noticed, but Kevin Harvick won the race and Brad Keselowski reclaimed the Sprint Cup Chase lead.

Round 2 of this melee takes place during the NASCAR season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway in South Florida next Sunday.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

Patriots-Bills Part II fan chat

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 11, 2012 09:56 AM

The Patriots are back in action, and so are our fan chats. Join the discussion during the game.

SNL: Romney drowns sorrows and Obama celebrates as Anne Hathaway hosts (video)

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 11, 2012 01:41 AM

A triumphant President Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah) make his return to "Saturday Night Live" this week as the show opened with an emotional exit by Mitt Romney (Jason Sudeikis).

A wistful, somber and despondent Romney - "darn it all to heck" - drowned his sorrows on election night by chugging an endless supply of milk while being consoled by his wife Ann (played again brilliantly by Kate McKinnon). Three of his sons, all played by Taran Killam, tried to help him feel better. Tagg threatened to "punch America in the face." The boys tired to encourage dad to join the party by informing him that Paul Ryan is performing "amazing feats of strength" and that Donald Trump is being "racist." Karl Rove (Bobby Moynihan) got tossed over the balcony just for good measure after asking Romney if he could borrow "$300 million."

The sketch closed with the long-time-married couple embracing and a feeling that the former Massachusetts governor will be just fine, once he figures out how they make mayonnaise.

Pharoah was dead-on by channeling his inner-smug Obama during Seth Meyers' Weekend Update to celebrate his victory, which was capped off when he was officially awarded Florida's 29 electoral votes on Saturday. The President plans to lay out an aggressive legislative agenda since Republicans beat him despite eight-percent unemployment, $5 gas, a "one debate head start" and "on top of that, I'm black.” Obama offered no olive branches, warning Republicans that there are fewer old white men and that there's “a Hispanic, gay woman is born every eight seconds” before later adding "in the words of Wesley Snipes: Always bet on black."

As far as what he learned during his first term, the president said: "This is a terrible job and I hate it."

Host Anne Hathaway opened the show with a cast-wide chorus playing off her upcoming film role in "Les Misérables" - during which the cast sang about the joys of having Sundays off to the tune of “I Dreamed a Dream.” The opening demonstrated again the versatility of the cast, several of whom showed off some impressive pipes. The former Catwoman also appeared as Katie Holmes during a stop on "Ellen" and as Claire Danes (who plays CIA agent Carrie Mathison) in a wild send-up of Showtime's "Homeland."

She also played a frustrated McDonald's manager who had to break some bad news to her staff and appeared with Killam in truly off-beat musical pre-recorded sketch doing the "Mokiki" sloppy swish dance. You'll either love it or hate it:

Rihanna was the musical guest - appearing on the show for the fourth time - just days after posting topless photos of herself on Twitter backstage at the Victoria Secret fashion show in New York. Her latest album "Unapologetic" drops on Nov. 19. Jeremy Renner hosts next week with musical guest Maroon 5.


As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

NFL Power Rankings Week 10: Girl star Sam Gordon, 9, steals spotlight

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 10, 2012 10:49 AM



The Patriots are coming off bye week and we'll get to them in just a minute.

But the biggest football story of the week took place on You Tube and was brought to us by 9-year-old Samantha Gordon of South Jordan, Utah, whose original highlight video had nearly 2 million views before it was taken down and made her perhaps the most popular running back this side of Arian Foster. She was featured on "Good Morning America" in the clip above.

She plays in a mostly all-boys tackle football league in the Salt Lake City area. “I started her out in soccer at 4 years old and we would play out in the yard,” her dad, Brent Gordon, told Yahoo sports. “And my son’s friends were pretty aggressive and rough. She could really handle a lot of the physical play. There were some games where she’d fall down and just keep going. She would get kicked in the face, kicked in the gut and just keep going.”

Here's a copy of the original clip:

Nicknamed "Sweet Feet" (no Rex Ryan jokes, please), Sam has some amazing 2012 season statistics: 35 touchdowns, 1,911 yards rushing on 232 carries, 8.2 yards per carry and 65 tackles. She took the very first snap of the season 63 yards for a touchdown and has scored every TD for her team this year. And you thought the Patriots' offense was too one-dimensional.

Somehow, you just know this isn't going to end well, especially now that every boy in the league probably has her in his sights - assuming they can ever catch her. Her father admits that he was worried about how the video would be received, particularly the part that shows some fairly hard hits and the legit concerns being raised about concussions in youth football.

Sam, who weighs all of 60 pounds, has some amazing athletic ability and certainly dominates the competition - especially in the speed and agility department. And she can certainly hit. But her celebrity has also triggered a flood of foolishness. One website claimed in all apparent seriousness she "has Chris Johnson speed, Reggie Bush cutting ability, and Adrian Peterson strength to gain yards after contact." Really? Let's see, Peterson routinely works out by benching 315 pounds 15 times during his epic training routine and Johnson ran a 4.24 40-yard dash in 2010 and said this past summer he could beat Usain Bolt. Idiocy like that detracts from her skills.

It's unfair and unreasonable to expect Sam to become the next Danielle Woodhead. Let's just hope she reaches 15 in one piece.

As far as we know, Sam would test negative when it comes to performance-enhancing substances - unless you count Halloween candy. The same can't be said for Brandon Bolden, who is out until Dec. 3 (depending on his knee). Hey, maybe she could step in for Bolden until he returns against the Dolphins next month? The Patriots now have two players - Aqib Talib being the other - unavailable for Sunday's game due to drug suspensions.

Is this the new Patriot Way? Or just a natural result of hanging around Aerosmith? Maybe the Patriots should relocate to Colorado Springs or open a CVS at One Patriot Place so they can cut out the middleman. Since when did Bill Belichick become Urban Meyer?

Assuming the rest of the Patriots avoid Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds between now and kickoff Sunday, the game against the Bills should be an easy return after the bye. The last time these two teams played, the Patriots trailed 21-7 before scoring five unanswered touchdowns in a 52-28 mauling. But we know there no sure things, except for Nate Silver's Five-Thirty-Eight blog. Should have checked with Nate before I made that Super Bowl XLVI pick. Although not even Nostradamus Nate could have seen Mitt Romney, Mike Brown and David Petraeus all out of a job by 5 p.m. Friday.

Things are not well with the 3-5 Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick ($24 million guaranteed) and Mario Williams ($50 million guaranteed) are the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford of Northern New York - producing just 15 touchdown passes (with 9 INTs) and 23 tackles (4.5 sacks) respectively this season. Not even the Patriots' secondary will be able to bail out Fitzpatrick Sunday.

While Sam Gordon stole the spotlight this bye week, the Patriots weren't entirely under the radar. Check out this quick highlight reel:

There was Team Gronk's loss to Team Cruz in the "Halo 4 Bowl":

Brandon "Leaping" Lloyd's car jump (thanks in part to some camera trickery):

Bob and Jonathan Kraft, Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo rocking with Aerosmith:

And Patrick Chung sang with the Boston's Children's Chorus:

Owly Images

Not bad for an off-week.

Now it's time to get back to work. Here are this week's rankings:

FULL ENTRY

Patriots, Aerosmith offer common ground

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 6, 2012 03:00 AM

Aerosmith - Rueters.jpg

Not only is Robert Kraft considered one of the NFL's elder statesman, he's also perhaps the league's coolest owner. Monday, he and son Jonathan introduced Aerosmith during their Commonwealth Avenue homecoming concert and gave the band members autographed championship game balls. Aerosmith put on a terrific show - complete with the Patriots cheerleaders - in front of their old Commonwealth Avenue home.

They sang "Train Kept A Rollin" and stopped the Green Line to do it. Brilliant. As my late father would say: "That Steven Tyler is one classy broad."

The Krafts were joined by Tom Brady - who appeared ever stylish and seemingly-shirtless (he had a v-neck t-shirt) underneath a pea coat - and Jerod Mayo.

Kraft was flanked by Jon Bon Jovi in London, not to mention girlfriend Ricki Lander. What can Kraft do for an encore? Perhaps get Aerosmith to write and perform an original team song for the Patriots. "Look This Way" would work for the secondary.

It was like G-Rated porn for fans of Boston sports and Boston rock. And it was a rare moment of unity in these recent months, as roughly 10,000 Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren and None of the Above supporters were all together in their love of rock and Patriots and rocking in unison to "Walk This Way."

Once the votes in this election are finally counted - and that could take a while - either Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews is going to be really pissed furious. Those two commentators might represent the most intense view of each side in this election but also mirror the polarized electorate.

Everyone, it seems, is weighing in on this election.

Since the Washington Redskins lost at home on Sunday, the incumbent party in the White House is supposed to lose. For 19 of the past 20 presidential elections - when the Redskins lost their last home game before the election - the incumbent president or party has been defeated.

This year, expect a twist. A 269-269 Electoral College tie will result when Mitt Romney loses a Colorado recount by one vote. Officials will declare Tim Thomas' ballot invalid since the retired Bruins' goalie formally emancipated himself from the United States.

In the resulting chaos, the House elects Tim Tebow as president after the birth and age requirements from Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and the election rules set forth in the 12th Amendment are temporary waived by the Supreme Court and Roger Goodell. Meanwhile, in the Senate compromise, noted President Obama supporter Doc Rivers is elected vice president and Paul Ryan is declared winner of the New York Marathon.

Sounds about as crazy as the Patriots winning the Super Bowl this season.

But I'm not ruling either one out.

Sports remain one of the few areas where people of all political beliefs, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations and however else we choose divide ourselves can come together and cheer or suffer in unison. When you're at a stadium or ballpark, your fellow fans are not Republicans, Democrats or Independents. Extreme partisans are celebrated in the world of sports. In politics, they're often put on watch lists or end up working for MSNBC or Fox News.

The role of sports in our lives is often overstated (don't tell the people who pay me to write this), given the fact that these games really don't impact our lives as much as those people whom we choose to vote for or against. The exception is if you choose to wager on the outcome of a game. But that's self-inflicted pain or joy. At the same time, sports are vital - see New York after 9-11, baseball during World War II, the role Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens played in American history, or the national emotional impact of the the U.S. Olympic victory over the Soviets in 1980.

Still, millions of people live their lives in New England not knowing or caring who will be the fourth starter or right fielder for the Red Sox, fretting over the fact that the Patriots secondary couldn't "stop a nosebleed" or giving a damn that the Winter Classic won't be played until 2014 at the earliest.

Sometimes, especially when Dice-K is pitching or the Patriots are trying to hold a four-point lead in the fourth-quarter with less than five minutes to play, I'm envious of those folks. But then I think back to watching Brady forever shut-up John Madden, Zdeno Chara and Thomas lifting the Stanley Cup or to the unadulterated joy of Game 7 against the Yankees in 2004 and figure there's no way I'd trade those moments for the pain-free guarantee of apathy.

Those moments untied us all, as did the collapse of the 2011/2012 Red Sox and the non-stop venom that this past season produced.

I've done my best to shield readers from my political views or preferences. This is as much a pragmatic decision as one of convenience. This is not the place to preach politics - although we always make exceptions for any politician who tries to capitalize on the popularity of athletes or athletes who try to tell us how to vote. Their right to do so is not the issue. It's just that as a rule, I don't take political cues from athletes, actors, singers or the place that sells me my favorite chicken sandwich and waffle fries. The same way I don't need Romney's opinion on the Red Sox or Obama's views on the Super Bowl.

And it's always cringe-worthy when presidents or would-be presidents show up on Monday Night Football. Partisans on both sides went bananas Monday when Romney took tongue-in-cheek credit for the Patriots "two Super Bowl wins" - XXXVIII and XXXIX occurred while he was in office - and when Obama called the impending national college playoff system - something he advocated in 2008 - an example of "promises made, promises kept."

Politics is much more brutal than sports when it comes to dealing with losers. There's no first or second wildcard in the Electoral College standings. At least the last Super Bowl runner-up got the Lamar Hunt trophy and a nice AFC championship banner. If Romney finishes second tonight, he'll probably lose his Secret Service protection before the final votes are counted in Alaska and Hawaii. Ex-presidents, even those who only serve one term, do pretty well when it comes to pensions and perks. But being voted out office by millions of people and billions of dollars has to hurt no matter how big the ego.

Thankfully, the Patriots return to action on Sunday. The Celtics are trying to figure out how to put the pieces together to build a contending team - or at least one that can return to the Eastern Conference finals and challenge the Heat. Both Obama and Romney supporters who love hockey are united in their anger and dismay over the NHL lockout. The Red Sox are wading into the free-agency market.

Meanwhile, David Ortiz is back in the fold, taking shots at Bobby Valentine.

Right now, Ortiz is polling at 98% with Gallup among Red Sox fans just for saying that Valentine "has mental issues."

Of course, after this campaign, who can blame him?

As always, let us know what you think. Join our in-game Patriots-Bills fan chat next Sunday and bring your own Buffalo wings. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

Video: Gronkowski, Welker fall to Giants in Halo 4 Bowl

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 4, 2012 10:34 PM

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Wes Welker had their troubles with the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Those Patriots were joined by teammate Donald Thomas when they faced off against Giants Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden and Terrell Thomas in the first-but-not-likely-last "Halo 4 Bowl."

Check out the Xbox action above posted on You Tube, but prepared to be disappointed if you expected Team Gronk to exact any measure of revenge on Team Cruz for what happened last February in Indianapolis.

The Super Bowl was rated "N" for nightmare and this video is rated "M" for mature due to blood and violence. It's unlikely Gronk, Welker and Thomas will want to re-live either event soon, but the video is much more fun to watch.

For more on our second-half Patriots' season outlook - check out our photo gallery of somewhat-factually-based predictions on boston.com.


As always, let us know what you think. Join our in-game Patriots-Bills fan chat next Sunday and bring your own Buffalo wings. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

Louis C.K. hosts as SNL takes presidential pass - Video

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 3, 2012 11:56 PM

Hurricane Sandy took the wind out of the presidential campaign for a few days last week and sucked much of the political humor out of this weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live."

The funniest presidential moment on the show came (above) when host Louis C.K. turned Abe Lincoln into a frustrated stand-up comic. "Lincoln" - a send-up of "Louie" - failed to find some pals among a couple of freed slaves at a bar. Lincoln also argued with Mrs. Lincoln before they headed to the theater. "I'm married now, my wife is crazy, I mean historically insane," he later said on stage "I just know I'm totally getting murdered...I feel bad for the detective who is trying to solve my murder." Lincoln then lumped "everybody from the middle of the country on down" as potential suspects. Among those listed in the credits were "Unit Production Manager U.S. Grant" and "First Assistant Director Hannibal Hamlin."

Honest.

The show surprisingly avoided Jay Pharoah's version of President Barack Obama three days before the election and Mitt Romney (Jason Sudeikis) made a only brief stop by the "Weekend Update" desk to join Seth Meyers, remind voters "he's still running for president" and offer his final argument for becoming president. Romney urged voters to reflect on the first presidential debate. Romney also said he couldn't be held to anything he said during the Republican debates because that would be like holding someone to something they've said while "pledging a fraternity."



This week, Donald Trump (Sudeikis) told "Fox and Friends" viewers that the damage from Hurricane Sandy has hot affected the shooting of "All-Star Apprentice."



He also pledged to give a $1 million to Trump's Buddies - an organization dedicated to "throwing trash at Rosie O'Donnell" if President Obama released his text messages to various terrorists, including the Riddler. C.K. played a straight-talking FEMA rep trying to get his points and explain the government's response to to Fox anchors Gretchen Carlson (Vanessa Bayer), Steve Doocy (Taran Killam) and Brian Kilmeade (Bobby Moynihan) The corrections at the end of the of "F&F" are worth a few minutes of examination on the DVR replay.

During "Weekend Update," Meyers also reported that the New York subway system would be running at full capacity this week, which is amazing "because it has never happened before." Aidy Bryant nailed her stop by the "WU" desk as a social media expert/moonbat, offering her input on the importance of social media in the current campaign.

C.K. (Szekely), a Newton North High School grad who started his comedy career on stage in Boston, offered a tribute to "old ladies" in his monologue and their willingness to say just about anything. "Eight-year-old boys and old ladies share the same sense of propriety...I connect with old ladies. They're my favorite demographic."

C.K. was able to inject humor into an Australian Film Classics sketch and as a ram's horn-blowing mountain man who couldn't get his names straight and as a hotel front-office manager over-charging a guest. He certainly had plenty of fun during his appearance, which was fitting since "Fun" was the musical guest.

The show opened with Michael Bloomberg (Arimsen) and Chris Christie (Moynihan) doing their best to re-assure the beleaguered residents of the New York and New Jersey following Sandy's rampage. They were assisted by a pair of dynamic sign-language, scene-stealing translators.

Christie sort-of re-iterated his support of Romney. "I'll vote for Romney, but I'm going to hate it." Bloomberg closed with a message to his Spanish-speaking viewers - warning then that "in the coming days, the white people of New York will be irritable and moody because they have no internet, do not have Facebook. No seamless web. Their cable isn't working." And because of that, they can't watch "Homeland" which is "the worst thing that ever happened to them." Bloomberg, who had threatened to arrest the president if he tried to visit the city, closed this opening urging the citizens of Gotham to "resist the urge to eat trans-fats."

Fat chance there, Mr. Mayor.

No matter who wins Tuesday's election, SNL viewers should be well-served by the show's version of the president. Sudeikis is a near dead-ringer for Romney in both his looks and mannerisms. Sudeikis, whose Joe Biden would be missed during a Romney administration, is able to skewer Romney at times without displaying any venom. During the 20 years of the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, Dana Carvey (Bush 41), the late Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond (Clinton) and Will Ferrell (Bush 43) usually insured that the show had a strong cast member who could deliver as president on any issue - when needed. All were spectacular during their presidential terms, with Carvey adding in Ross Perot for good measure in 1992. Others may have played those leaders, just not as well.

Here's a quick trip down memory lane, starting with Hartman as Clinton in 1993:

Carvey as Bush 41:

And Ferrell as Bush 43:

Dead-on presidents haven't always hasn't been the case on SNL. Chevy Case set a very funny standard for Commanders in Chief on the show as Gerald Ford, but his portrayal of Ford as bumbling, uncoordinated oaf who couldn't make it across the room without tripping was 180-degrees opposite of reality considering Ford's athletic background as an All-America football player at Michigan and downhill skier. Dan Aykroyd was much more on-point - if not as funny and over-the-top - with his grinning Jimmy Carter (and even better as Richard Nixon and Bob Dole). The show always lacked a decent Ronald Reagan and Armisen was never very funny as Obama, namely because he bore little physical resemblance to the president and the show usually treated the president with kid gloves. Pharoah's Obama is much more on-point than Armisen's ever was for reasons that go beyond his race and similarities in stature and build. Pharoah is able to capture and mimic the quirks, speech patterns and foibles of the president much better than his predecessor.

We may or may not be able to view that for another four years.

Stay tuned.

Anne Hathaway hosts next week with Rihanna as musical guest.

As always, let us know what you think. Join our in-game Patriots-Bills fan chat next Sunday and bring your own Buffalo wings. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.

NFL Power Rankings Week 9: Patriots' glass half-empty, half-full

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan November 3, 2012 10:07 AM

Brady - AP.jpgThe Patriots will not allow any 50-yard touchdown passes this week.

The bye week comes at a great time for the Patriots, given their injuries and their inconsistent play all season.

The Patriots have given fans a bit of everything this season. The glass is half-empty, half-full and has a couple of scratches on it. Tom Brady has had plenty of reasons to smile this season. But is he satisfied? Probably not. Take it from No. 12 himself: "I think [there are] a lot of things I that we can do better" he told reporters this week. And what's in that glass has ranged from beer and champagne to Maalox and Pepto-Bismol.

On the half-empty side is the defense and, more specifically, the secondary. The Patriots addressed that problem - they hope - by picking the hard-hitting and suspended-for-one-more-week, 6-foot-1 Aqib Talib, which will be nice considering the current band of smurfs are not getting the job done. While this will likely drive passes toward rookie CB Alfonzo Dennard, it's hoped Fonzie might spend the bye week watching the "Turn Your Head Around On Pass Coverage" video. Devin McCourty has been exiled to the safety position - his next move might be toward parking-lot attendant when Pat Chung returns.

While the Patriots' offense ranks No. 1 in the NFL in total yards per game, the running game needs to be more consistent. The Patriots are running the ball 45 percent of the time, much more than last season, but at times it doesn't carry nearly the effect or impact that it should. While Danny Woodhead seems to be the back of choice when it counts, it's going to be up to Stevan Ridley to emerge as the key back and hold on to the ball at the same time. Ridley's best games this season are usually the Patriots' best games - as they've won three of the four games when he's broken 100 yards.

It was refreshing to see Josh McDaniels and Brady working together to stretch things out and get aggressive last week - specifically when the Patriots scored from the 19 on a 3rd-and-1 when Brady hit Brandon Lloyd alone in the end zone and New England's decision to go for the end zone on 4th-and-1 when the score was tied at 7-7. Result: touchdown Shane Vereen. Rob Gronkowski's first TD catch, which resulted in the "Changing of the Guard Spike' took advantage of the Rams' inability to play press coverage on Gronk and Brady's ability to exploit that glaring deficiency.

Brady has been brilliant and bothersome this season. His performance against the very compliant Rams in London was 2007-esque. It helps when he isn't sacked and barely touched. Brady continues to be the best quarterback in the league when he feels comfortable in the pocket and is given time to throw. He's shown some jitters this year - especially against the Ravens and Seahawks - but still had the Patriots in position to win in both of those games. Brady is so good that when he isn't on his game 100 percent, it becomes glaringly obvious and often costly for the Patriots.

Brady can't do all by himself or hasn't done enough by himself, depending on your perspective. Twice in this decade, Brady has walked off the field during a Super Bowl with the lead and less than 3:48 to play. But even that wasn't enough to win either one of those games. Clearly, Brady is not the problem with this team - nor has he ever been since he took over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

The Patriots should be rested and ready next week when they resume hostilities against the Bills in Foxborough. Most of the nagging injuries should be resolved by them. Looking ahead at their schedule, their biggest challenge will be a three-week stretch in December when they face the Dolphins in South Florida, followed by the Texans and 49ers at home. That's a bit tougher task than the Patriots faced at this point last season, when they were able to coast after losing to the Giants 24-20. That defeat also left them at 5-3 before they ran the table all the way to Indianapolis. As the Giants so amply demonstrated last season - just getting to the playoffs is all that matters.

The Patriots have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed in the AFC (the loss to Baltimore will be costly there), but their best and most realistic hope would be a playoff berth as AFC East champs, as the division remains theirs to lose.

If they manage to do that, it would be time to full up the glass and raise a toast.

Here are this week's rankings. We'll update them each week on Saturday during the season:

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