– The Patriots reportedly almost acquired Saints running back Pierre Thomas at the NFL trading deadline. Maybe a sign that Fred Taylor isn’t close? Then again, Thomas has been out since Week 3, so I’m not entirely sure what to make of this.
– Jerry Rice came out on top in the NFL Network’s “100 Greatest Players” series. Joe Montana finished fourth. Peyton Manning was 8. Tom Brady was 21.
– When are the Patriots going to bring back Pat Patriot for good? Enough.
– From the Minnesota Star-Tribune: “[Vikings owner Zygi] Wilf is believed to have seen just how volatile Moss could be. After catching only one pass for 8 yards in the Vikings’ 28-18 loss to the New England Patriots, Moss walked into the visitors’ locker room where Wilf and other executives stood. According to an NFL source familiar with what transpired Moss told the Vikings owner in no uncertain terms that Childress wasn’t a good coach and should be fired.”
Volatile? Maybe. Inaccurate? Nope.
– According to BoDog, the Patriots and Steelers are now the co-favorites (15:2) to win the Super Bowl. Buffalo is at 2000:1.
– The good news: No Thom Brennaman on Sunday. The bad: Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon. More bad: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are calling the 4 p.m.
love-fest contest between Peyton’s Colts and the Eagles.
This week’s picks
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 23,Browns 13. “In his first three NFL starts, Colt McCoy has faced the best team in football, Week 6 version (Steelers, at Pittsburgh); the defending Super Bowl champion (Saints, at New Orleans;, and the best team in football, Week 9 version (Patriots, at home). That’d be like Colt, the ex-Texas QB, opening his college career at Alabama, at Oregon and home to Oklahoma. Brutal. If he comes out of it even 1-2 and completing 63-ish percent, the Browns have to give him the rest of the year to see if he might be the answer.”
ESPN.com staff: Seven out of eight pick the Pats. Only Adam Schefter tosses his pick Cleveland’s way.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 27, Browns 14. “The Patriots have the best record in football and now must go on the road to face a Browns team that was impressive in beating New Orleans two weeks ago before their bye. This game is Bill Belichick against Eric Mangini, two former colleagues who know each other well, even if they aren’t exactly chummy. I think Belichick will find a way to confuse rookie quarterback Colt McCoy if he starts. Those mistakes will be the Browns undoing.”
CBS Sports.com staff: Four out of five pick the Patriots.
Sporting News staff: Six out of seven pick the Patriots.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 29, Browns 14. “As we well know, the meeting of Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini is a game best served cold. In “Man-Genius” vs. Mentor, we’ll go with the one who has Tom Brady as his right-hand man.”
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 28, Browns 17. “Two weeks ago, I was tempted to pick the upset when the Browns went to New Orleans. As the Browns prepare to host the Patriots, I’m tempted to take the upset again. But coach Bill Belichick is on a roll when it comes to dispensing defeat to former employees, and Eric Mangini’s presence as coach of the Browns will make it even harder for Cleveland to win. Don’t count on a Moss-style man-hug for Mangini after this one.”
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 20, Browns 16. “This is a much more even matchup than it appears. The Browns are the best two-win team in football; a group greater than the sum of their spare parts. The Patriots are built the same way, but they have Tom Brady. Eric Mangini always did a nice job slowing down Brady while with the Jets, and this Patriots offense isn’t as explosive as usual. Expect another close Browns loss.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 27, Browns 16. “Coaching grudge match, as Bill Belichick coached Earthtones in 1991-95 and current guy Eric Mangini is a Belichick protégé. Eric had a bye week to prepare. Bill has Tom Brady. Edge: Bill. Pats have Steelers on deck but will spend enough attention here.”
Globe staff: New England across the board. (Patriots by 4 1/2).
Pete Schrager, Foxsports.com: Patriots 23, Browns 16. “Ah, Mangini vs. Belichick. It’s been a while, but I guess it’s time to dig up all those tired plot lines from the 2007 and 2008 recycle bin, isn’t it? Spygate! My favorite! And I guess we have to pretend to care about the postgame handshake, too? Terrific. As for the actual football game that will be played on the field, I think we’re in store for a good one and can already smell this being everyone’s “upset special” of the week. In two road games, Colt McCoy’s played well in Pittsburgh and New Orleans – two of the toughest places for a young quarterback to function – even earning a victory in the latter. Though there’s still a chance Seneca Wallace gets the starting nod on Sunday, I don’t think which Browns quarterback is under center will matter. I can’t see Brady and Belichick losing this one.”
Boyce Garrison, San Diego Tribune: Patriots 20, Browns 16. “Belichick is the master at confusing young QBs like Colt McCoy.”
Dave Goldberg, NFL FanHouse Patriots.
USA Today staff: Patriots across the board.
Yahoo! sports staff: New England across the board.
We like: Patriots 28, Browns 20. Cleveland is only averaging 16.9 points per game, better than only Carolina in the NFL. With 29.3 points per game, the Patriots are No. 1. With Colt McCoy likely making the start, the Browns should lean heavily on Peyton Hillis, and we saw what the Patriots defense did last weekend against Adrian Peterson.