, Newburyport, MA


November 21, 2013

Three things to watch in Pats-Broncos matchup


2. Talib’s act

To be honest, I was very, very close to doing a story on Aqib Talib’s growth as a Patriot, that he seems to have turned the corner on his “shaky” past and really bought into the Patriot Way, whatever that actually is.

But then came Monday night against the Carolina Panthers.

Talib entered the game talking about how Panthers veteran receiver Steve Smith is a noted trash-talker, insinuating he will try to get inside the “diva” wide receiver’s head.

Well, guess what happened. Talib acted like a jerk. He acted like someone who cared more about a ridiculous personal battle than winning the game.

It was an embarrassment.

While Patriots coach Bill Belichick downplayed it somewhat, saying both Talib and Smith are noted for their competitiveness, there is no doubt the coach and Talib had a discussion about it.

Talib’s injury was another matter altogether. There appears to be a durability issue with these nagging injuries to his hip.

But his personal show was more like the Talib New Englanders hoped they weren’t getting.

He is one of the best five cover-cornerbacks in the league. He really is. The fact that at 6-foot-2, he can get to balls other cornerbacks can’t, is impressive.

We will be watching Talib closely the rest of 2013. A $40 million contract might hinge on it.

3. Back to the future

This truly is one of the great matchups in all of sports, Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Sure, I get it, they don’t cover each other, but trust me, both understand the importance of beating the other.

While Brady usually gets the nod in this “body of work” comparison, because of the championships (three to one), Manning is the best pure passer ever.

What is striking about this season is how both quarterbacks have reverted to their former selves, from the early 2000s.

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