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Saturday, January 15, 2011
Some must-reading before Jets-Patriots III


After such a crazy week on the AFC East blog, the quiet of Jets-Patriots Eve gives us a chance to catch up on some stories that shouldn't be missed.

ESPN's various platforms, including blanket coverage from ESPNNewYork.com and ESPNBoston.com, produced a seemingly endless supply of great columns and features.

Here are some must-read pieces to get you even more ramped up for Sunday's showdown:

ESPN.com senior writer Elizabeth Merrill went to North Platte, Neb., to tell the tale of Patriots running back Danny Woodhead: "The people here have no doubt thought about it, how an overachieving football player embodies their community. There's a railyard that runs through town, and it's the largest in the country. At night, thousands of people drive past the Bailey Yard lights, whizzing along I-80 to somewhere bigger."

ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini relayed Trent Dilfer's blunt prediction of what Tom Brady will do: "I think he's going to unleash hell on them," Dilfer said.

ESPNNewYork.com columnist explained why Santonio Holmes needs to be a star Sunday night: "Holmes, standing at his locker Thursday, just smiled and nodded a little when it was suggested these are the kinds of games and situations that the Jets brought him here for."

In this week's edition of "Bruschi's Breakdown" at ESPNBoston.com, Tedy Bruschi asked: "Are Jets coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer stupid? If you think they are, they'll do the same thing they did that Monday night game. If you think they aren't, they'll change their approach from the Monday night game and challenge the Patriots by going back to who they are -- ground-and-pound. That's what I think will happen."

ESPNBoston.com columnist Jackie MacMullen noted of the Jets' attempts at verbal warfare: "Wrong tactic against the wrong team, wrong coach and wrong superstar."

ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor delved into a sad fact for Jets fans: "The entire sport revolves around the quarterback position, which is why the Patriots are heavily favored Sunday to shut the Jets' big, fat and foul mouths. Mark Sanchez is a lot of things -- young, restless, gifted, confident and 3-1 as a postseason pitcher -- but Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. he is not."

ESPN Stats & Information researcher Jeremy Lundblad shared all sorts of data that indicated Brady hasn't done much in the postseason for a while: "In the glow of another MVP season, it's hard to remember that Brady has been just average in the postseason since the New England Patriots' last Super Bowl title six years ago. In that span, Brady has the same number of playoff wins (five) as Matt Hasselbeck."

Page 2 contributor David Fleming claimed the Jets-Patriots rivalry doesn't measure up to the other showdown this weekend: "Look, the Patriots are the best team in the AFC. But the best two teams are the Steelers and the Ravens, and their matchup should be the nastiest, most physical and spine-tinglingly violent game of the season. Why? Because they always are."

Aaron Schatz and Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders delivered their weekly preview: "Making it even more likely the Patriots will score points is the way the Jets' defense gets worse as you get closer to the goal line."