by Scott Benson

The Patriots welcome the 9-1 Chicago Bears to a re-floored Gillette this afternoon for a game that many believe will tell the tale on New England’s Super Bowl hopes for this season. Let’s see what the morning papers think.

Over at the Globe, Mike Reiss reminds us that there are sometimes bigger things than the Chicago Bears. Reiss logs in with a feature on Daniel Graham and the upcoming kidney transplant for his older brother Jason. Dan’s 57 year old mom Marilyn will be the donor. The rest of the world stops for the Grahams on Tuesday, when the four hour procedure takes place. I’m not going for ‘prawpuh puspective’ here – rather, Reiss’s story just reminds you that, along with our blustery expectations of them, each one of these 53 players has their own cross to bear as they run on the field each Sunday.

Reiss brings it back to the field with a piece on the Patriots record after Thanksgiving. They’re a league-best 33-6 since 01, when they started their run of three championships in four years. Can they continue? Mike also has some news this morning – Patrick Pass has been activated. He fills the roster spot left open when Josh Miller was IR’d.

Jim McBride has the Globe’s venerable scouting report, and Ron Borges has the weekly football notes. Ron looks at a new NFL Network series from NFL Films (by the way, screw you Time Warner), a couple of struggling New York quarterbacks, and (at least in on-line versions early this morning) an inexplicable batch of Nick Cafardo’s baseball notes. And yes, there it is……..a Roger Clemens reference!

Oh, yeah, Dan Shaughnessy is dispatched to comment on the new Field Turf. That’s our cue to check out the Herald.

Michael Felger carries the ball again for the Tumbling Tabloid, laying out what’s at stake for both heavyweight teams today. Felger also takes a spin around the league, and has Charley Casserly on Laurence Maroney. When will someone find an NFL GM that didn’t plan to draft Maroney? “No, he was off our board entirely. We hated him from the moment we saw him on film, and that only intensified when we met him personally. A loathsome, despicable creature.” Now THAT would be news.

Mike has another bit about the Josh Miller injury, and naturally, speculates that the Patriots will dump him to save a buck.

John Tomase has the Herald’s scouting report, and Albert Breer does him one better with a breakdown of the Bears’ Tampa 2 defense. Like every other week, there are also about a hundred ‘articles’ that amount to no more than a paragraph. I’m not linking that stuff. I’ll get arthritis. It’s hardly worth it anyway – I’m pretty sure one of them simply said, “Brian Urlacher’s favorite color: blue.”

The Herald also features its weekly column from the rival city, a clever, thought-provoking newspaper gambit if there ever was one. This week it’s some guy named Mike Mulligan from the Sun Times, who claims the Bears are disrespected. Hey! Get your own material, Chicago.

As always, you can find more Patriots links at Bruce Allen’s Patriots News Mash Up page. And as they day unfolds, check for the latest news from Reiss’s Pieces.

I’ll be back after the game. I’m reasonably sure it will be to celebrate a Patriots victory. It may even be decisive enough to salve our doubts about the playoff mettle of these Pats. A couple of things I read this week stick out:

First, a Reiss’s Pieces blurb about the Bears three-game road trip:

Sunday’s game marks the Bears’ third straight on the road. The Chicago Tribune, as part of a Bears notebook, passes along this stat: According to, 93 teams since 1990 have had three consecutive road games on their schedules. Only 38.7 percent of those teams won the third game.

Then, on the BSMW message board, learned poster ‘KT the Brick’ weighed in on the Bears’ intra-conference record during the Lovie Smith era (a posting gem, KT indefatigably weaves these beauties into our regular maze of business news, food and beverage chats and fart jokes):

The Bears only play 4 AFC games per year, and in the Lovie Smith era, their record vs. AFC teams is 4-7.

In 2004, they went 1-3 vs. the AFC South: W 19-17 @Tenn, L 41-10 vs. Indy, L 22-3 @ Jacksonville, L 24-5 vs. Houston.

In 2005, they went 1-3 vs. the AFC North: L 24-7 vs. Cincy, L 20-10 @ Cleveland, W 10-6 vs. Balt, L 21-9 @ Pitt

This year, they are 2-1 vs. the East (probably the weakest division in the AFC): W 40-7 vs. Buff, L 31-13 vs. Miami, W 10-0 @NY.

As KT points out, even with their 2-1 record this year, the Bears have largely been unimpressive when faced with the Superior Conference. They’ll be trying to reverse that trend today while on the last leg of an extended road trip. I don’t know what that says to you, but to me, it says we won’t be getting their best game today.

The great equalizer may be the Patriots recent troubles at Gillette (7-6 over the last two seasons; a hair over .500 in a place they once ruled with a iron fist). Maybe the new turf will give the Pats new life at home. If they can hang on to the ball today, they’ll be off to a good start.