sunday_links.jpgBy Scott Benson

As I write this, it’s 6:00 a.m. in the East, and there’s still more than twelve hours before another classic clash between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. Once again, the two rivals will battle all the AFC marbles, this time in the Indianapolis hothouse that the delicate Colts call home.

I’ll bet the soon-to-be-cacophonous RCA Dome is silent now, save for the ice cubes in Bill Polian’s first drink of the day, madly clinking around the glass as the Inebriate Executive searches in vain for some early-bird functionary to terrorize.

Compared to that, looking through a few newspaper links doesn’t sound so bad. Let’s get started.

Jim McCabe hits leadoff for the Globe today, and like the ‘Professional Hitter’ that he is, he puts up another solid at-bat by reminding one and all that the Pats’ dominance in the salary-cap era puts them alongside the best teams in league history. As Architect Bill Belichick instructs, Jim confirms this with Charlie Casserly.

Ron Borges says that compared to the Cleveland Browns of the 50’s, they’re all pikers. Of course, they played with white footballs in something called the AAFC, but whatever. Seriously, this is probably Ron’s most thorough tribute to the Belichick Pats, ever. He also looks at Peyton’s Monkey in his weekly Football Notes. Ewww. Note that Ron says both Asante Samuel and Tully Banta-Cain will be pursued by the Jets – a chance to earn an extra 100 grand in the Meadowlands, as Mike Vrabel likes to say – if they get to free agency.

Mike Reiss continues the Official Boston Globe Appreciates the Patriots Day with a look at Robert Kraft’s amazing success as owner and savior of the Pats. The Man From The Stands could be accepting his 5th AFC Championship Trophy from Jim Nantz later today. Mike adds another piece reminding us that the Road to Indy started with last January’s bitter loss to the Broncos.

Reiss plugs away with this morning’s notebook, confirming that captain Rodney Harrison will not play today. Mike also notes that the Patriots will try to beat the second of the NFL’s two undefeated-at-home teams today after taking the Chargers out last week. Jim McBride doesn’t like their chances, giving the Colts the edge in his weekly scouting report.

Dan Shaughnessy has apparently written something today. I’m assuming it’s about the Pats and Colts, but honestly, I don’t dare look.

Mark Blaudschun focuses on long snapper Lonie Paxton (and his new enterprise that develops adaptive sports equipment for the handicapped), Chris Gasper notes that sacks by the Colts defense were cut nearly in half this year, and John Powers thinks Tony Dungy is – in a word – classy. You know, ‘Tony Dungy is a class act’ is catching up with ‘Brett Favre is having FUN out there’ as the NFL’s most oft-repeated phrase. And you know my theory on that – nobody worked harder at his image as an ‘aw-shucks’ guy than the always-calculating Favre. I’m beginning to think that nobody says that ‘Tony Dungy is a class act’ more than Tony Dungy himself.

There’s a few things from Bob Ryan and Frank Dell’Apa on the Bears and Saints, but frankly, I don’t care about the NFC at all – until tomorrow, maybe.

Over at the Herald, through a mist of hair product and androgynous cologne strides Michael Felger, ready for his closeup. Mike’s a real tough guy this morning, calling for a bonerattling Jihad on the persnickety Colts today. You know, when Felger says ‘the only way the Patriots can beat (fill in opponent) is to (fill in pet theory)’, you can be pretty sure that there is at least one other way, if not several.

John Tomase has the notebook again, where he brings news of the idle Harrison, along with a reminder that when it comes to domes, the Pats are king. Like Jim Bouton’s 1969 Houston Astros, the Pats don’t lose in the motherf***ing dome. Let’s see, a hat-and-t-shirt game – in a dome? What the hell are we nervous about?

In his weekly What To Look For, Tomase says that in early December, neither team looked to be headed to today’s match-up, but they’ve rallied to move past all other AFC comers. You know, John’s had a pretty good December and early January himself.

Felger climbs aboard the media’s ‘Let’s See If We Can Get Bob Sanders Elected President in 08’ bandwagon. Steve Buckley is pimping the Colts defense, I think, but I can’t really say because I didn’t read it. Hopefully, he arrived at the conclusion that they suck, because frankly, any other conclusion is as ridiculous as writing story after story about what a Impact Player Bob Sanders is. With him, you only give up 135 yards a game on the ground, as opposed to 150. Sanders is like freaking Dick Butkus out there, I guess. Consider yourself OWNED, Corey Dillon!

In the features department, Karen Guregian has key player Ty Warren tending to his on-the-mend mum Annette, and Albert Breer giving some love to Pats receivers coach Brian Daboll, who’s earned it.

So I clicked on the Herald’s sports page this morning, right? And what do I find there but an article by Lenny Megliola, right? Lenny’s climbing the Belichick coaching tree today, right? Be careful up there, Lenny! Right?

Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star is another guy looking at Manning’s Monkey. Keep your peccadilloes to yourself, you backwater freak. If Peyton played for the Patriots, Dan Shaughnessy would have written this.

Felger closes out the Herald’s coverage with a few slaps at Bill Polian. Watch it, Mikey, unless you like getting brained by one of those tumbler-style glasses. Maybe you do like that sort of thing. In that case, meet Bob Kravtiz of the Indy Star. Felger also has his weekly jaunt around the league, featuring a Matt Light tribute and a shot at Bill Parcells. Meow, Mike!

At the ProJo, Shalise Manza Young looks at the differences between BFF’s Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. In yet another uncredited mystery piece, someone somewhere (Art? Art? Answer me, Art!) says Pats fans have every right to be confident today. No mention of the m’effing dome thing, but whoever wrote this – it’s like they are looking right into my very soul! Eerie.

Note: Reader friend Jill writes in this morning to let me know that the above-noted Unknown Column is hard-copy credited to none other than Jim Donaldson. Which makes the following rather uncomfortable, in retrospect.

Jim Donaldson isn’t fooling anybody. He was supposed to write a column today, I gather, but instead he just goes back through the last several meetings between the Pats and Colts and sums up the box score. There’s something about this piece that makes me feel like Jim is sitting on a beach somewhere in the tropics, with an umbrella drink, sitting on a suitcase full of our savings, laughing at us.

Well, that’s it. Can you believe we get to do this again? Heee.

If you’re looking for more game stuff to inhale, you know the drill. First, hit the BSMW Patriots News Mash Up page. You can drive your Indy car to the Indy Star, where they always Trust Their Stars, but if you hear banjo music, get the hell out of there. Lastly, when its nut cutting time and the season is on the line, turn to go-to guy Mike Reiss and his Reiss’s Pieces blog. He’ll take good care of you.

I’ll be back early this afternoon with a whole crew of Pats fans that have some final thoughts about today’s game. I think we’ve got some great stuff there, but by all means, come back and be the judge. Naturally, I will be back tonight with a rear view look at yet another AFC championship game involving our beloved Pats.