logoby Scott Benson

One week to go.

Pats fans have hit the halfway point in the grueling 14-day gauntlet that leads to the Super Bowl. This morning, the papers take one final deep breath before full deployment to Arizona. Let’s see what they have to say.

In the Globe, Jim McCabe wonders where the Pats fit in “the greatest evah!” debates. Bob Hohler looks at the Giants’ slow start and super finish. Jackie MacMullan considers Jabar Gaffney, an 06 holdover who has become a key player for the Pats. Michael Vega is one of many this morning to laud Tedy Bruschi, the heart and soul (and logo) of the organization. Also playing his best football of the season at the best possible time.

Ben Collins is in search of locals who would like you to know THERE ARE STILL A LOT OF GIANTS FANS IN NEW ENGLAND. Really? Hadn’t heard that. Anyway, Ben finds them. First guy he talks to pulls out old Shaughnessy columns lauding New England’s ‘other’ pro football team. That guy’s got two strikes on him already. Let’s move on.

Mike Reiss has the weekly league notes, with a look at Andre Tippett’s Hall of Fame chances (about the same, it seems), and the possibility of labor strife ahead.

In the Herald, Rob Bradford visits Open Mike Vrabel, who in 35 years in football has never seen that. Vrabel has a screw loose, which is even funnier when you consider that he may be the smartest player the Patriots have. He’s at least 1A. I insist that he be named a member of the Patriots coaching staff the minute he retires. Anyway, Bradford continues on the theme by saying their experience is what sets the Patriots linebackers apart.   

Karen Gurgeian has the notebook, where the Pats are considering Eli Manning’s improvements as a quarterback, and as a leader. In his Quick Hits, John Tomase says today’s Pats recordbreaking offense recalls the old school version, led by a coach who would be fired a season later. Ron Erhardt survived and went on to become one of the best coordinators in football. Tony Massarotti says Wes Welker’s world has been turned upside down in one season. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post could say the same about Tom Coughlin.

A couple of guys I’ve never heard of have assigned “a noticeable limp” to Tom Brady, back from New York. If I understand this correctly, one or both of these gentlemen have been hanging around Brady’s place in Boston, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. There’s even a pic! They should totally start their own web site.

Jay Fitzgerald says that CNBC will air the hour-long documentary “Touchdown! The Patriots and the Business of Winning” at 10 tonight. Maybe next week, they can do a follow up at about the same time.

In the ProJo, Joe McDonald looks at the underdog Giants through the eyes of a few guys who were once dogs themselves.  Are the Giants still the underdog? Didn’t seem like it at times this week. Anyway, in case you missed it yesterday, Shalise Manza Young started a three-part series on how the Pats have built an NFL dynasty.

The Courant is the Mason-Dixon line of yet another Boston-NY throwdown this week, so this morning they offer not only David Heuschkel’s feature on Pats icon Bruschi, but Dom Amore’s look at 41 year old Jeff Feagles, who, it can’t be said enough, kicked for the Patriots in NINTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT. Lastly, Jeff Goldberg realizes that not everybody who wants to go to the Super Bowl gets to go.

Elsewhere, Douglas Flynn of the MetroWest Daily News digs deep on Bill Belichick, the man at the center of a historic season. On Friday, Chris Price confronted the dirty Pats on their low-down ways.

One week to go. Warning: it’s all uphill from here.