What to do with win streaks?


What to do with win streaks?

With last night's blow out over the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins remain entrenched as Boston's undisputed best team. Even though the B's season isn't even halfway complete, if you ask anyone in the city: Who has the best chance to win a title in 2012? The Bruins are the only logical answer.

But right now, of Boston's three active teams, the Bruins actually sport the least impressive win streak. Sure, they've won eight of their last nine, and 22 of their last 26 games, but thanks to their New Year's Eve loss in Dallas, the Bruins current winning streak is at one.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are still riding hot on eight straight games, and after last night's beat down of the Nets, the Celtics, after starting the season with three straight losses, have now won four straight.

But unlike the Bruins, of whom Boston knows what we have and are confident in what they can do, the Pats and C's remain a mystery. Despite a combined 12 straight wins, neither has shown enough to sell us on any serious long term success (aka: a ring). Then again, they haven't had the chance.

It's a tough little predicament that fans find themselves in. On one hand, teams can't control their schedule. They can only beat who they're allowed to play. So while wins over the Jets (the best of the bunch), Chiefs, Colts, Eagles, Broncos, Redskins, Dolphins, Bills, Pistons, Wizards, Wizards and the D-League Nets, aren't entirely impressive, it's not the Pats' and Celtics' fault. They've literally done as well as they possibly can. When it comes down to it, what more could we really expect them to give? Yet, it's still not enough.

Unlike the Bruins, who over the course of this amazing stretch have consistently embarrassed quality teams like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa and (this year at least) Toronto, with the Pats and C's we still have to wonder: What happens when they face legitimate competition? This while holding on to lasting images of ugly losses to the Steelers and Giants, the Knicks and Heat.

It's not that we don't think they can beat the good teams, we're just not sure that they can, and that's a problem. It's unbelievably strange, when you consider the Pats haven't lost since two weeks before Thanksgiving and the Celtics now sport the second-longest winning streak in the entire NBA.

But thankfully (or maybe not), this indecision won't last much longer. Starting Friday, the Celtics host the Pacers, who are 4-2 and maybe even a little better than their already impressive record suggests. After that, they have four days off before hosting the defending champion Mavericks on Wednesday, and Derrick Rose and the Bulls on Friday. The very next night they're in Indiana for a very tough back-to-back against the Pacers before returning home that Monday to host Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and the Thunder probably the best team in the West. By the end of that stretch, for better or worse, we'll know what we have in the 2012 Celtics.

And by that time, we'll also know a thing or two more about the Pats. Not that anyone can or will be content with only one win in these playoffs, but winning one game (at least to start) will go a long way in increasing our expectations, and easing some of our fears. Whether they beat the Bengals or Broncos, or more than likely, the Steelers, the Pats will have shown us something and have that four-year-old monkey off their backs.

If not, hey, we always have the Bruins.

That's all I'll have today on Standing Room Only, but tomorrow's another day, with a big AFC Playoff preview and NFL playoff picks. So stay tuned, and until then, have a merry Thursday.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

It's been almost two years exactly since the Deflategate saga began during the AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots on Jan. 18, 2015.

Since then, Robert Kraft has expressed his displeasure at how the whole thing was handled by the league -- particularly as it relates to the treatment of quarterback Tom Brady -- on multiple occasions. And according to a story in the New York Times, that feeling hasn't subsided.

"Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly," said Kraft . "But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything.

"I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse."

Brady served his four-game suspension to start this season, and Kraft opted to accept the league's punishment for the team following the 2014 season: They were docked two draft picks (a first and a fourth) and fined $1 million.

The piece includes Kraft's thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump ("Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend," Kraft said), as well as comments from others on how Kraft has handled his situation ("I think Bob has exhibited disagreement, but he’s also very capable of making and influencing change," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said). 

You can read the full piece here.

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'


Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.