Hey, remember Bobby Valentine? That was fun, right?
Remember when the Red Sox hit rock bottom? In April? Then May? Then in June, July, August and September to boot? Boston hit rock bottom so many times during the 2012 season that Daisuke Matsuzaka nearly had an easy commute to Fenway from his childhood home.
Last week against the Bills, the Patriots’ defense hit rock-bottom. As bad as it can possibly get, right?
Now, in walks Aqib Talib, and everything is hunky-dory, the cornerback being asked to cure one of the league’s worst pass defenses? And it’s going to happen immediately against the resurgent Colts? If Talib does that, then follows it up by walking on the surface of the Neponset Reservoir, we’ll buy in immediately.
There’s nowhere to go but up though, right? Last week being rock-bottom and all.
This week’s picks
Globe staff: Three out of five pick the Colts (Patriots by 9 1/2)
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 30, Colts 24. “Tenth straight season these teams have met, first without Peyton Manning in the Colts’ employ. That’s okay. Andrew Luck’s a mini-Manning, on pace for a 4,677-yard season as one of the most precocious rookies ever to take the field in the NFL. Luck will find some plays to be made against the Patriots’ generous secondary, even one welcoming Aqib Talib (if activated) to the field for the first time. Tom Brady will find a few more.”
ESPN.com staff: Patriots across the board.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Patriots 33, Colts 23. “Can you believe this is one of the games of the week? The Colts are playing back-to-back road games, but they will have 10 days in between. This is a chance for the Colts to show they are for real. The Patriots defense has struggled, but I think they handle this young Colts team. Tom Brady outplays Andrew Luck.”
CBS Sports.com staff: Six out of eight pick the Colts (New England –9.5).
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 28, Colts 24. “A year after the annual Colts-Patriots game lost its luster with the absence of Peyton Manning, the arrival of Andrew Luck could help restore the sizzle. With the Colts better than folks realize and the Pats not quite as good as believed, the Colts could steal this one. They likely won’t, but they could.”
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 28, Colts 10. “I’m a believer in the Colts, in the sense that I believe they are going to make the playoffs this season. But that’s largely because the Colts have an easy schedule the rest of the way, with four games remaining against teams that currently have losing records. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, this is one of the toughest games the Colts still have to play, and I just don’t think the Colts’ defense is good enough to keep Tom Brady and company in check. This game may be a first-round playoff preview, but it’s not a close game.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 34, Colts 27. “This one got a Game of the Week sniff. Teams have won seven in a row between them and Tom Brady vs. Andrew Luck feels special, somehow. Very much like Pats to win at home but also like rejuvenated Indy to keep it close. Although trading for CB Aqib Talib will help, England’s pass defense has allowed 19 scoring throws and — you may have heard — Luck-to-Reggie Wayne can do a little damage.”
USA Today staff: Six out of seven pick the Patriots.
Yahoo! sports staff: All Pats
Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Colts 34, Patriots 28. “Who would have thought a Patriots-Colts game would be more intriguing after Peyton Manning left Indianapolis? Brady and Manning have gone up against each other 13 times in their careers. This is the first time Brady is facing Andrew Luck. If the playoffs were to start today, both of these teams would be playing in the wild-card round. A few wins here, a few losses there, and this could very well be a playoff preview. I know this sounds ludicrous, but I can’t see the Patriots defensive backfield stopping Luck. Upset special, No. 2. Give me the Colts. And on Monday, expect a whole bunch of “Is Andrew Luck the MVP?” chatter.”
It says here: Patriots 35, Colts 30: A defining win. A loss would mean having to beat both Houston and San Francisco for any lingering chance of a first-round bye. If Pats can win all three, and the defense, with the addition of Talib, shows marked improvement in the process, then maybe we can start talking New Orleans.