In the name of Tebow


In the name of Tebow

Yesterday in DC, the Pats won their fifth straight game, yet there remains a healthy level of uneasiness around New England.

For the second week in a row, the Pats looked far-from-perfect against a God awful team. The offense was inconsistent. The secondary was porous. They failed to crush a very crushable opponent.

While there's no such thing as a bad win in the NFL, there are inspiring wins, and for the second straight week, the Pats weren't even close. As a result, less than a month before the playoffs, we're not sure where to set the bar. We still don't know if they're good enough.

That's beyond frustrating, not something to which we're accustomed. But then again, is it any surprise?

We knew what was in store when the Pats kicked off this last leg of the season.

In short: A lot of games against really bad teams.

In slightly longer: Very few opportunities for the Pats to prove themselves.

And that's exactly how it's played out. But through all the frustration, they've still a) won games and b) stayed relatively healthy. What else can you ask for? What were you really going to learn from them beating the Colts and Redskins?

(Devin McCourty was clearly favoring his shoulder down the stretch yesterday, and Jerod Mayo didn't look great coming off the field after the game-clinching interception, so that could change. But for now, I'll remain optimistic.)

So yeah, I'm not worried yet. I'm not booking hotel rooms in Indianapolis, but anything's still possible.

Through 13 games, the Patriots defense has allowed 30 points only once. Meanwhile, yesterday marked the 10th time the offense has scored 30. I know it's not that easy, or even close, but read that again. Things aren't that bad. While the last few weeks have been uneventful and uninspired, the Pats are still 10-3. They're still one of only three or four teams with a chance of winning the AFC. And let's be thankful for that.

But more than anything questionable segue alert let's be thankful for Tim Tebow.

Not for his inspiration, charity and unquestionable healing powers. Not for his ridiculous comebacks and mind-blowing post game interviews.

But for injecting life back into the Patriots season.

For most of this year, we looked at this Sunday's matchup with Denver in the same light as the other December cake walks. Indianapolis, Washington, Denver, Miami and Buffalo. Some were better than others, but there was no real distinction. At best, they were just different kinds of garbage.

But thanks to all that Tebow's accomplished these last few months, the Patriots now have an unexpected challenge. There's finally something to prove.

Certainly Denver's not perfect. There are many ways to question and discredit this amazing run. Regardless, they've won seven of eight. They have a strong defense, the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack and an unbelievable home field advantage. By beating the Broncos, the Pats can make statement that we never imagined would be there. Or they can lose, and go a long way to reinforcing some of our fears.

Either way, for the first time since Week 10 against the Jets, Patriots fans have something to look forward to.

Tebow Week begins . . . now.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

New photos show Sandoval has lost weight


New photos show Sandoval has lost weight

The last time a bunch of pictures of Pablo Sandoval made headlines, it was not a good sign for the Red Sox. The latest batch isn’t so bad. 

Sandoval became the story of spring training this season when photos -- specifically a Boston Globe one of him throwing -- revealed he’d gained significant weight. The veteran third baseman was surpassed by Travis Shaw for the starting job and began the season as a bench player. 

After three regular-season games, Sandoval was put on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. He was then shut down for the season in May due to shoulder surgery. 

In a tweet and story posted by FC Barcelona, a smiling -- and noticeably thinner -- Sandoval could be seen attending the club’s final training session. 

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Obama’s Super Bowl pick: Patriots over Seahawks, again


Obama’s Super Bowl pick: Patriots over Seahawks, again

Tom Brady didn’t go to the White House after the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, but the President thinks the Pats will be visiting 1600 Pensylvania Ave. again to be welcomed by President Trump (does that mean Brady goes?) or Clinton in the spring of 2017.

In an interview on Sirus/XM Radio with Sway Calloway, Obama sees a Pats-Seahawks rematch in Super Bowl 51. And if he were a betting man, he’d be going with New England, again. 

“I’ve got to say at this point, you have to put your money on Brady again,” Obama said. “I don’t see any strong teams. Seattle and Patriots have a rematch. That’s my call.”

Obama and the nation will get a preview of his pick on Week 10 at Gillette Stadium when the Pats host the Seahawks.

Oh, and the President likes the Golden State Warriors, particularly with the addition of Kevin Durant, to reclaim the NBA title.