Are you ready for some football?

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Are you ready for some football?

By Michael Felger

Short and sweet this week, folks. Pats-Colts. Brady-Manning. And some real misguided hate from the Randy Moss crowd. Another day, another dollar for yours truly.

Hey, Mike,You're right on the Colts having the Pats number. They have won five of six after losing six in a row. But can we be honest in some of our analysis? I don't think it's much of a coincidence that of those first six wins, four were in Foxboro. And of the last five Colts wins, four were in Indy. In case you just started watching football, home field is huge and especially for these two teams. The Pats' home record since 2007 with Tom Brady at QB is 22-1. I imagine Mannings record is similar. So, "nuts and bolts," the Pats should win this game at HOME against a team they are on equal footing with.GeorgeWoburn
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I wish I shared your optimism -- and your math is wrong (of their last five wins over the Pats, the Colts won twice in Foxboro and three times in Indy). Overall, I agree with you that the Pats should win this game. But Manning scares me. And I don't care who he's throwing to and where they're playing.
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If you look at the last six games, how much did home field really factor? I can only think of one game -- the 2006 AFC title game. I think it's safe to say you wouldn't have had a 38-34 final in January in Foxboro and that the Pats chances' of not running out of gas would have been better. But, remember, the Colts hosted that game because they won the regular-season matchup IN FOXBORO that year (both teams finished 12-4). They were the better team. They were also the better team in 2005, when they blew the Patriots out, 40-21, IN FOXBORO.
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In 2007, the Pats were the better team, and they proved it when they won IN INDIANAPOLIS. They weren't quite the same in 2008 with Matt Cassel, and that showed in their regular-season loss at Lucas Oil Stadium. The eventual AFC champion Colts were also the better team in 2009, when they beat the Pats in Indy and went on to the Super Bowl.
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You see, George, one of the great things about this rivalry is that the better team almost always wins. And the conditions have only been a factor in the playoff games, when the Pats were aided by snow and muck in 2003 and 2004 and the Colts took advantage of the sweltering dome in 2006.
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Now, I don't know if the Colts are the better team at this time with all their injuries. Something tells me they're not. But I still have the ultimate respect for what Manning has done against the Pats recently -- and since this isn't a playoff game (where Manning is far more sketchy), I have a hard time overlooking him. Until the Pats prove the scales have tipped back in their favor in this rivalry, then I'll remain skeptical.

All I know is that, based on history, this will be a great game. They almost always are. And, again if history is to be a guide, the winner on Sunday will be the team that advances further in the playoffs. It may even determine home field whenif they meet again in January.
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If we're lucky, this will just be the appetizer to the main event.
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Felger, You DB!&12288;I know I have heard you lament in the past that you cant rip guys like A-Rod and Manning as perpetual chokers and losers anymore because they have managed to win a championship (God forbid if Moss ever wins one). Well, Mike, Id hate to see you lose two of your favorite whipping boys on what I believe is a technicality. I think you're far too quick to absolve these regular-season All-Stars of their repeated postseason failures, especially after only one fluke championship. Given the fact that the Colts are coming to town this weekend, I figured I would provide you with a pretty simple stat that illustrates not only the frequency of Manning's postseason failures, but the rapidity in which the oxygen is cut off from his massive head when the tournament rolls around. &12288;Now, anyone who has frequented this space knows the tried and true Felger mantra: "Stats are for losers." This holds especially true when it comes to Peyton Manning's postseason record. &12288;Manning is 9-9 in 18 playoff games covering 10 different postseasons.&12288;Out of those ten trips to the postseason, Manning ("the eighth-greatest NFL player of all time"), has been one-and-done SIX TIMES! 1999 Colts 13-3 - lost at home to Tennessee (after a first round bye)2000 Colts 10-6 - lost at Miami2002 Colts 10-6 - lost at New York2005 Colts 14-2 - lost at home to Pittsburgh (after a first-round bye)2007 Colts 13-3 - lost at home to San Diego (after a first-round bye)2008 Colts 12-4 - lost at San Diego. So Manning has led teams with a combined regular-season record of 72-24 (a winning percentage of .750) into the playoffs and has not a single win to show for it. Those numbers scream for a Tracheotomy. &12288;To contrast, Dan Marino (No. 25 on the Peter King-Starbucks all-time NFL rankings), a guy who I feel gets his career and achievements discounted unfairly because he never won a title, also had ten trips to the postseason during his career. His record is 8-10, a game less than Manning, yet his teams were only one-and-done three times and never during what was considered his prime. BTW, Tom Brady (22nd according to Mr. Coffee) is 14-4 in the playoffs. And in seven trips to the tournament he's only been one-and-done once (the Baltimore game last year). &12288;So please continue to rip Manning as the career choker that he is, because as you can see above it is most assuredly fact, not opinion. (You get this trademarked yet?)&12288;MikeAttleboro
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You know what the Manning defenders would say, Mikey. Give Manning Brady's coach, or Brady's defense, and he wouldnt have bowed out early so often. And you have to admit, there is some truth to that.
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But, in the final analysis, I agree with you. I take Brady over Manning, and the reason is the postseason. Brady has simply had fewer clunkers. The aggregate numbers are stunningly close. Each has played 18 playoff games. And in those games Brady has thrown 28 touchdowns versus 15 interceptions with a 62.0 completion percentage and an 85.5 QB rating. Manning has also thrown 28 touchdowns in those games, with a few more interceptions, 19, a nearly identical completion percentage, 62.9, and a slightly higher QB rating, 87.6.
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The difference is in the individual performances. Manning's aggregate numbers are boosted by some prolific individual games (five touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 rating versus Denver in 2004; four more touchdowns and a 145.7 rating against Denver in 2005; three touchdowns and a 123.6 rating against the Jets last year). Unfortunately for him, he's also had some epic fails (two picks and a 31.2 rating vs. the Jets in 2002; the two clunkers in New England in 2003-04; the two interceptions against San Diego at home in 2007).
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In other words, Brady's highs haven't been as high, but his lows haven't been nearly as low. He's played steadier in more big games than Manning. And that, my friends, is a fact, not an opinion (trademark pending).
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Felger,&12288;Is Sebastian Vollmer a Pro Bowl caliber player? A measuring stick for a lineman is not hearing his name mentioned during a game. He doesn't get called for holding. He doesn't false start and I never hear announcers commenting on how he gets beat around the edge. The only player I can remember getting by him was Cameron Wake. How would you rate his play? Nobody ever talks about him!!KenWhitman
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Terrific point. We barely mention him. We certainly notice Matt Light a lot more, although, to be fair, he's facing far better pass-rushers on the left side. But both were great last week in Pittsburgh. That was about as good as it gets.

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Felger,&12288;Was there a better moment in Sunday's win over Pittsburgh than Brady taunting Steelers' fans with that spike? It's so rare for ANY Patriot to make a mockery of the opposition like that, so I enjoyed it to its fullest. I honestly consider that tauntspike to be a top five "Patriots moment" in the last few years.Andrew Leominster

And it was fitting because I think it came in the best Patriots win of any kind since 2007. (The AFC title game versus San Diego? Week 17 at the Giants? Week 13 in Baltimore? Take your pick)
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Felger,&12288;Why is it you always fail to use the actual facts to back your own BS? Whats most sickening and annoying is how pathetic you are trying to convince everyone you know what you're talking about.You might want to publicly correct some statements you have made this week so youre not misleading your audience. Your career could be over soon if those brain-dead Beantown fans ever decide to actually smarten up and turn the channel instead of sitting in your little circle (expletive) every week.Fact check this week regarding your BS: 1. Brady did NOT put a clinic on against the best defense in the NFL, as you and the media want to make everyone believe. The Steelers are ranked 26th in the league vs. the pass and every QB this season had great success passing against this Steeler secondary2. When you claim how great this "young" Patriots defense is becoming, it seems you always fail to mention them being the 30th-ranked defense in NFL!! The Dolphins and Jets from their own division are both younger teams and the Patriots are the sixth-oldest team in the NFL.3. As for your diehard hatred for Moss, and putting the attitude thing aside and addressing what he brings to the field, enough of the how Patriots offense and Brady are better without him. What QB or team in history from any era wouldnt be extremely improved with a wide receiver that caught 50 TD passes in 52 games and drew traffic from the middle of the field? Even a "Dink n Dunker" like Brady, who's not very accurate as a downfield passer, can throw to wide-open receivers like Welker all day long to move the chains.LeeWarwick RI
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1. If that wasn't a clinic, then I shudder to think what one would look like.

2. Come on, Lee. The Pats defense is extremely young. The overall age of the team is skewed by the offense -- Brady, Fred Taylor, Alge Crumpler and some of the guys on the offensive line.

3. Amazing that an individual talent like Moss could be removed from the equation and the team could actually get better. I know it's hard to wrap your head around that concept, but that's what's happened. And who could have predicted that? Oh, wait . . .
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Felger,&12288;I don't know whether you are a tall man or a short man, but one thing for sure you are truly a little man. Do you understand that you are just an announcer? I watched you, in anger call Randy Moss a TURD! I understand your little mind, as a white guy. It makes guys like you angry when a black guy speaks his mind, with maybe a little attitude behind it. There is nothing that Randy has done that was worthy of you calling him a TURD. Well, let's end it like this. You are a TURD. I hope I made my POINT!Peter Medford

And . . .
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A guy like you is so predictable. Guys like you are a joke. White guys like you are dangerous. You use your mouth as a weapon. Your mind is small. You think your so bright that you can say anything you like. Personally, I think your a fool. A silly fool. When you called Randy Moss a turd, you showed the world what type of person you are.EddieFoxboro
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Maybe the same guy. Either way, it's the same point.
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Anyone who plays the race card with me on the Moss issue just doesn't pay attention to my commentary in general -- which is fine, by the way. But anyone who has listened to me for five minutes would attest that I haven't exactly gone easy on Brett Favre. Or Doug Flutie. Or Jacoby Ellsbury. Or Peter Chiarelli. Or Dennis Wideman. Or anyone on the Bruins, for that matter. I'm an equal opportunity ripper. I don't care if Moss was purple with pick polka dots. He's more trouble than he's worth. I said it four years ago, I said it four months ago and I'm saying it today. Peddling him out of town was the final stroke in Belichick getting his team back.

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Felger,For all the complaints about Chiarelli's passiveness, give some credit to him for not going after Kovalchuk. I'm a New Jersey fan, and this guy is the Randy Moss of the NHL. People have become so enamored and amazed by the occasional snipe or highlight reel goal that they've forgotten about the true meaning of team. Kovalchuk's skill set has simply been oversold, just like Moss' has. His hands aren't as good as advertised, he makes a ton of stupid plays, he doesn't play any defense -- he's simply overrated. He has an extremely low hockey IQ and is so frustrating to watch play. Lamoriello made a poor decision to give him such a long-term deal because in hockey, "cap hell" actually exists. He has gotten away from the way he used to build teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it has shown.Kovalchuk has been a loser his whole career. He's been to the playoffs twice in his career. Once with Atlanta as a No. 3 seed, where they were swept by the Rangers, and in 2010 with the Devils as a No. 2 seed, where they were upset by Philadelphia in five games. He's won a grand total of one game in the playoffs over his "great career." With the exception of 2010, he's been a minus player every single year of his career, even the year he made the playoffs with Atlanta.Kovalchuk having an 'A' on his jersey as an alternate captain is just as fraudulent as Randy Moss being one of the Patriots captains. An utter joke and a disgrace. Gotta keep the superstar happy and feed his ego so he doesn't pout and shut it down. It makes me sick to my stomach.It's almost a shame that the Bruins didn't get him because it doesn't give you the chance to rip him like you've ripped Randy so much over the past three years.JP

In other words, Kovalchuk is a TURD! And I would have been more than happy to refer to him as such had he landed in Boston. Call it a missed opportunity. I'm sure there will be others.
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The only problem is that I wanted the Bruins to get that turd last year. And I wouldn't have had a problem with them signing him to a long-term deal on the spot. I was calling for them to go get him from the first week of the season. Shows what little I knew about the player at the time.
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I'm also reluctant to give the Bruins credit for not being aggressive. It's not like New Jersey gave up the farm in that trade. The real mistake was the contract. But, anyway, you're right. The B's are much better off without him.
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Hey, Felger, I have been trying to figure out why you have been spot on with almost all of your predictions on the Pats, but also with the Celts and Bruins. It came to me that the reason is you are unclouded by the blind loyalty that most of us, even the knowledgeable ones like myself, suffer from. You are able to take the heart, the most compromising organ in the body, totally out of the equation. Example: You were able to look past that absolute debacle of a game against Cleveland and not even include it in the discussion as to how the Pats would play this game against the Steelers. I, on the other hand, could not get that stinker out of my nose enough to see any way to beat Pittsburgh. I think by not being a native New Englander you can be much more objective than the rest of us. I applaud you for speaking your mind and putting your opinions out there with no apologies. That is why you and Mazz are the best sports show to listen to.Steve Chester, NH
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Thanks, mom . . . er, "Steve." See you next Thursday for some turkey.
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Felger's Patriots-Colts game column will appear on Monday. His report card posts on Tuesday. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag on Thursdays. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

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NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal

“Is there anything you’d like to translate to the fans of the Los Angeles Rams?!?!” Deion Sanders wheezed into the face of Goff moments after he was selected. Goff, who to that point had done little but shake his head and “golly-gee” then had something else to be befuddled by. Goff will, for the next few years, provide adequate cover for Jeff Fisher to continue stealing money as an NFL head coach. Fisher – who’s won 8, 6, 7, 7, 6 and 7 games in his past six seasons and hasn’t coached a playoff win since 2003 – did as he was told by the league office and milked the clock all the way down before making the selection everyone knew the Rams would make when they mortgaged the future to make a 2016 splash in their new city.

Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

“Now, the competition really begins,” Deion Sanders told to Carson Wentz. “Who’s gonna prepare their team to the playoffs first?” Wentz, who fits the quarterback suit so much better than Goff, had to be stunned that he not only had to lead his team to the playoffs on the field but also prepare them there as well. Now the Eagles have to assuage the feelings of a former No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford, who’s pissed that the Eagles were going to draft a quarterback. And Wentz has to look at Bradford and make sure he doesn’t end up like him.

Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

“You fillllllleddddd with emotions,” Deion Sanders told Joey Bosa. “Give me the feeling right now.” The feeling from Bosa was surprise. He said he thought he’d be cooling off for another half-hour or 45 minutes before being selected but the Chargers brought the first eye-widener of the night by selecting Bosa who Pro Football Focus had as their No. 1. The Chargers knew it all along and didn’t tip their hands.

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

“This kid can bring them right into the playoffs!” proclaimed NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. Whoa, Mooch. Whoa. First off, it’s a playoff team to begin with if Tony Romo doesn’t crack his collarbone again. Second off, running behind that offensive line with an outside receiver like Dez Bryant and a tight end like Jason Witten on the field, you don’t necessarily need to burn the fourth overall pick on a running back. But the Cowboys love their splash factor and Elliott provides one.

Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

“You’re dancing,” Deion Sanders observed. “You’re exuding your swag. Are you happy right now?” Ramsey, the massive 6-1, 209-pound corner confirmed that he was. He also confirmed that he’s a shutdown corner. The Jaguars, as Senator Phil Perry noted as we watched the draft from our Burlington offices, are going to be good soon.

Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

“Folks,” said NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock, “he’s got 35 and three-quarter-inch arms.” Yes he does. And now he’s going to the Ravens where his physicality and toughness are going to enable Baltimore to plunk him down on Joe Flacco’s blind side and let him roll. Still doesn’t really address the issue of wide receiver talent aside from the ageless Steve Smith but what can you do. Stanley’s a good pick.

49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

It was between Buckner and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil at this point but just before the draft commenced, a video of Tunsil taking a bong hit while wearing a gas mask popped up on his Twitter feed. It was deleted and a hacking was blamed. And Buckner likely became the beneficiary of the Tunsil fiasco. My suspicion is Tonya Harding was behind it.

Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

The Titans made a deal with the Rams, sending them the 15th overall pick to move up and get former walk-on Conklin. The Browns got the 15th overall pick in return and a third-rounder as well. And the Laremy Tunsil debacle rolls on as reports that the Ravens took Tunsil off their draft board when the video popped up. .

Celtics-Hawks Game 6 at the half: C's fall behind, show signs of comeback

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Celtics-Hawks Game 6 at the half: C's fall behind, show signs of comeback

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have 24 minutes to keep their season alive.

If it happens, they’ll have to play much better in the final 24 minutes as they go into the half trailing Atlanta, 41-33.

Boston fell behind 34-21 in the second quarter, but the Celtics showed signs of getting back into the game with a 12-7 spurt to close out the half.

Isaiah Thomas’ call for additional help in this series rang loud and clear among his teammates with Jonas Jerebko leading the way with five of Boston’s first nine points.

But Boston’s 9-5 start was followed by an 8-0 Hawks run that led to a 13-9 Hawks lead as Brad Stevens called a time-out with 3:51 to play in the quarter.

The Hawks’ momentum was slowed down some, but the Celtics still couldn’t muster enough shots to regain the lead.

At the end of the first quarter, the Celtics were down 20-17.

Boston continued to struggle in the third quarter, with Stevens looking for someone, anyone to catch fire offensively.

He tried rookie R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier.

Kelly Olynyk struggled at both ends of the floor during his first half stint.

And Isaiah Thomas, the focal point of Atlanta’s efforts defensively, was once again bottled up for most of the first half.

He wound up scoring 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Meanwhile the Hawks were looking very much like a team ready to move on to the next round of play, getting contributions from key starters and reserves like Tim Hardaway Jr. who had 7 points in the first half. 

NFL Draft picks No. 9-16: Dolphins stop Tunsil's slide at No. 13

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NFL Draft picks No. 9-16: Dolphins stop Tunsil's slide at No. 13

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Bears: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

The Bears traded up from the No. 11 slot to go and get the pass-rusher they coveted, dealing with the Buccaneers to leap-frog the Giants. Could the Bears have used a tackle? Potentially. But after a video of Laremy Tunsil smoking while wearing a gas mask surfaced online, he has fallen down draft boards. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the video could be as many as five years old.  

Giants: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Like Joey Bosa to the Chargers, this was one of those did-not-see-that-coming moves. Apple is an athletic corner with good size, but his college tape left him more open to criticism than some of his peers at the position. Again, a tackle could have been in play. Maybe a receiver. Instead the Giants went with a corner who many ranked behind Flordia corner Vernon Hargreaves, Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander, and Houston cover man William Jackson III. 

Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

The Buccaneers played this well. They could have taken Hargreaves at No. 9, but they traded out, added draft capital, and still got their man. Hargreaves may be a bit undersized to play some of the bigger No. 1 receivers at the next level, but his footwork is pristine, and he has a knack for making plays on the football. 

Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

The Saints desperately needed to add to their defense after putting together one of the weakest units in the league last season. Rankins is a ready-made interior lineman who can play multiple different spots along the New Orleans front. At 6-foot-1, 299 pounds, he's smaller than the prototypical defensive tackle but he'll be stout against the run and pressure opposing quarterbacks on third downs. 

Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

The Tunsil slide finally came to a stop at No. 13. At first blush, this doesn't seem like great news for the Patriots. Bill Belichick's defense will now face a player that many considered the No. 1 prospect in the draft twice a year. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder was asked by Deion Sanders immediately after the pick was made what in God's name happened with his Twitter account. "It's a crazy world," Tunsil said. "Things happen for a reason." Sanders asked if it was his step-father who hacked the account. Tunsil's step-father filed suit against Tunsil on Wednesday after a domestic incident. "I don't know who it was," Tunsil said.

Raiders: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

The Raiders went after their Charles Woodson replacement early. Considered to be more of a bottom-of-the-first-round selection, Joseph is a heat-seeking missile who just plain destroys ball-carriers. He has good insticts and ball skills and should be able to play as a single-high safety or a box safey. Joseph is coming off of a season-ending knee injury, but his medicals must have checked out with Raiders brass. 

Browns: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Coleman didn't run the most varied route tree in college, but he's an explosive athlete and a relentless competitor. He'll give quarterback Robert Griffin III a pro-ready down-the-field threat. And they need one. Badly.