Are you ready for some football? When the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots roll into Music City this Monday, Al Michaels and John Madden will have their pallet full of 8-5 teams that appear primed for a playoff push. And the Pats are rolling, winners of five of their last six contests, with quarterback Tom Brady having a successful sophomore campaign. For the season, Brady has thrown 26 touchdowns and completed nearly 65 percent of his passing attempts. He is, however, prone to the pick, tossing 11 interceptions in 13 games. But the real weapon New England possesses is kicker Adam Vinatieri. The six-foot, 200-pound Vinatieri, who nailed the game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXV, has converted 88 percent of his scoring chances this yearincluding a mammoth 57-yard boot.
♦ Did you know that since the Titans began playing at the Coliseum in 1999 they have a 16-2 record against opponents who are making their maiden voyage into Music City? (The last two such victories came against the Houston Texans on Nov. 10, and the Colts this past weekend.) New England’s visit for Monday Night Football will be their first pilgrimage to Nashville. Bet Titans, and thank us from Vegas. ♦ Some significant Titans stats: The Titans were penalized just four times for 19 yards against Indianapolis, collected a total of 18 first downsnine by rushing and nine passingand currently rank first in the NFL in time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 32:30 per game. With three interceptions against Peyton Manning, the Titans’ defense has now intercepted three passes three times this seasonincluding Pittsburgh (11/17) and Washington (10/30). The Titans’ defense has also been extremely stingy of late, giving up just shy of 18 points per contest during their current 7-1 streak. Last Sunday against the Bills, the Patriots converted on third down just four of 11 times, and have succeeded on third down less than 45 percent this season. ♦ The quote of the week belongs to ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who was asked by Eddie George and backup quarterback Neil O’Donnell when discussion about Steve McNair as an MVP candidate would begin in earnest. “It starts right now,” Jaworski said. “Today. What a physical brute McNair is.”. ♦ Baseball’s winter meetings, which begin Dec. 12, will once again be held at the Opryland Hotel. Amid hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, baseball owners and executives will try to land All-Stars during the Montreal Expos fire sale. Montreal’s operating expenseswhich are solely dictated by Bud Selig and Major League Baseballhave been significantly sliced. In short, unless Expos players are willing to make Nashville Sound coin, some will be dropped by the team. At stake: Vladimir Guerrero (39 HR, 111 RBIs), who is arguably the most talented baseball player on the planet; slugger Jose Vidro (19 HR, 96 RBIs) and rookie of the year runner-up Brad Wilkerson (20 HR, 59 RBIs). You just know that a certain owner of a certain team in the Bronx will be bringing a ton of cash during his stay in Nashville.