National view of the Patriots

A collection of links from around the Web on the Patriots:

1. Don't rank defense based on yards. Clark Judge of CBSSports.com writes on how the Packers and Patriots were the NFL's two lowest ranked defenses, which highlights how rankings can be deceptive. "It should tell you we need to rethink how we evaluate offenses and defenses. The NFL ranks its 32 teams by yards, but I don't know many coaches who do. They do it by points, and that's a more accurate barometer."

2. Playoff put Brady in a cranky mood. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports writes on quarterback Tom Brady shifting into a different mode. Cole relays a story from receiver Chad Ochocinco, who talked about approaching fellow receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch to ask if Brady was OK. "You know, he’s intense, but this was like a whole new thing, man. They were like, 'It’s that time of the year, you just have to understand.' ... You know that quarterbacks are a little different. They have to act a little different because of the position. But Tom has taken that to a whole different level."

3. Sound FX on Patriots-Broncos. NFL.com looks back on the Dec. 18 meeting between the Patriots and Broncos with some Sound FX.

4. Brady and playoff pressure. In his "First and Goal" weekly column, ESPN.com's John Clayton includes an item about Tom Brady looking to snap a 3-game playoff losing streak. "Brady enters Saturday with a three-game losing playoff streak dating to the Super Bowl loss to the Giants in 2007. Teams such as the Giants, Ravens and Jets found ways to slow Brady's offense. The plan normally is to use man-to-man defense against the Pats."

5. Gronkowski breaks records with a smile. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post spent a few days in Foxborough this week and he writes on tight end Rob Gronkowski: "Gronkowski’s enjoyment of football, combined with ridiculous physical skills and a 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame, have him entering his second playoff game at age 22 with historic accomplishments."

6. Mayors get in on the fun. Fox31 in Denver writes on the mayors of Boston and Denver making a "wager" prior to the game. "If the Denver Broncos win, one of Boston’s most famous patriots, Paul Revere, will wear a Tim Tebow #15 jersey. Boston mayor Thomas Menino will also treat Denver mayor Michael Hancock to a New England lobster dinner. ... If the New England Patriots win, Hancock will wear a Tom Brady #12 jersey to an upcoming public function, and will treat Menino to a Colorado steak dinner."

7. Prior meeting of value for Patriots. Writing for the New York Times, Peter May notes that the Broncos were 5-3 on the road during the regular season and are looking for their first postseason road victory since 1998. Coach Bill Belichick says, "It’s good to have had prior experience against them earlier in the year, because they’re a tough team to get ready for."

8. Patriots' presence would be Super. Don Banks of SI.com ranks all 16 potential Super Bowl matchups, and the Patriots are in four of the six top spots.