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by Andrew Brandt, MMQB.com 1/29/15
While many scorn Bill Belichick’s playing fast and loose with the rules, his skills are universally respected. I remember weeks when we were preparing to play the Patriots. And meeting Belichick and watching him speak at league meetings, I found him to be intelligent, reasoned and measured, belying a perception among his peers—again, perhaps founded in jealousy, perhaps in reality—of someone willing to bend the rules to gain an advantage.

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by Charles Robinson, Yahoo Sports 1/29/15
As of Wednesday afternoon, the poorest seats in University of Phoenix Stadium were going for nearly $5,000 each with taxes and fees included. The website TiQiQ.com, which compiles ticket pricing research, said Wednesday that Super Bowl seats are selling for an average of 82 percent more than this time last year, when the Seattle Seahawks faced the Denver Broncos in New Jersey.

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Home Grown
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by Mike Schopp, WGR55.com 1/28/15
I wouldn't predict that EJ Manuel is Ryan's ideal quarterback, or anybody's, but I would guess that Ryan thinks he can win with him, to the same tune that he won in New York with Sanchez. And I think it could have helped Ryan get the Bills' job.

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by Matthew Fairburn, Syracuse.com 1/29/15
In Jacksonville, Nathaniel Hackett will have a chance to work with 2014 No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles, who struggled in his rookie season with the Jaguars. Hackett, 35, has six seasons of NFL coaching experience, including two as a coordinator, but he has never been a quarterbacks coach in the NFL.

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When the Patriots Were Bad

by Bill Pucko, BylineSports.com 1/26/15

A long time ago the New England Patriots weren't very good. In fact they were among the worst franchises in the National Football League by almost every measure.

New England first got to the Super Bowl in 1986, five years before the Golden Age of the Buffalo Bills began, and were soundly beaten by the Chicago Bears of Coach Mike Ditka 46-10. It wasn't that close.

Prior to that season, all the Patriots had on their resume was an American Football League East Division title, with a 7-6-1 record in 1963. They lost the AFL championship game to San Diego 51-10. It wasn't that close.

Back before anyone heard of Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, the Patriots were one of the two most clearly inept franchises in the NFL. Their best franchise player was a guard, John Hannah.

Only the Cardinals were worse. Among the original NFL franchises, they represented Racine, Chicago, St. Louis and Phoenix over a 94 year span, and represented them all poorly. The last time the Cardinals won an NFL title was in 1947. That was five years before Belichick was born.

Then in 2000, Bill was named head coach of the Patriots. The following season, on September 23, 2001, New York Jets' linebacker Mo Lewis drilled New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe, knocking him out of the lineup. Little known understudy Tom Brady took over. The football world as we knew it, changed that day.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl that season for the very first time. They played the heavily favored St. Louis Rams. Coming from 14 points down in the fourth quarter, the Rams tied the game 17-17 with just 1:30 left. Broadcast analyst John Madden famously remarked that New England should just run out the clock and hope for the best in overtime. Brady instead directed a 53 yard scoring drive. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48 yard field goal to win it at the gun.

I remember watching that game with my kids and telling them as Vinatieri lined up the kick, that this was a moment they'd never forget. Perhaps not, but each deserted the team of my upbringing for the Buffalo Bills. I tried to warn them. They wouldn't listen.

These days, even as the Pats attempt to galvanize their place in history with a fourth Super Bowl title, it seems a joyless existence. This whole football deflation issue has sucked the life out of the fan base too.

Perhaps the team will rally together. Maybe it really is a case of us against the world. It might well happen. New England is still a slight favorite.

But if the Patriots beat Seattle Sunday, it will be an empty celebration for those of us who grew up cheering them. We'll have to sneak around. Develop some kind of underground network of support.

Everybody loves a winner. Just don't win too much. Far more than rule-breakers, the New England Patriots are a victim of their own success. Outside of the six states in the Northeast corner of America, few will recognize it. Fewer still will celebrate.

It wasn't always like this.

Recent Comment:

Bill, thanks for posting my comment that despite what the naysayers...there are other possible explanations. I, too, feel, the celebration will be empty with a NE win- Patriots fans like us will always be faced with.....if they win on Sunday, it's be... read more

by Jerry Burzynski on 1/27/2015 10:24:16 AM

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from MSN.com 1/29/15
Will Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Rob Gronkowski or heavy underdog Luke Willson claim MVP honors? Who will post more receiving yards on Super Sunday -- Jermaine Kearse ... or Jermaine Kearse from SB 48? Which Gatorade flavor will be used for the head coach's celebratory postgame shower? Will pop star Katy Perry ask for Trevor Knight to call her (again) during the halftime extravaganza?

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from Business Insider 1/28/15
In its 2013 global survey of 16,000 adults, LinkedIn found that one out of every three parents has a hard time understanding what their kids' jobs require. Two-thirds of parents want to learn more, and half think that they could better support their children if they did.

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Fantasy
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by Scott White, CBSSports.com 1/6/15
Compounding the problem is that many of the ones we suspected might graduate last year -- such as Noah Syndergaard, Dylan Bundy, Jon Gray, Archie Bradley, Robert Stephenson and Jameson Taillon -- didn't even sniff the majors. And the crazy thing is none of them seems to be any closer today.

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