The trash talking and back-and-forth has reach amazingly ridiculous levels -- Wes Welker's foot press conference, the NY Post cover, etc. -- but thankfully we're now just two days away from the actual AFC Divisional Round Game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.
Which means it's time for some actual preview and discussion of the game itself, like the work being done over at Pats Pulpit, where they are wondering the X-factor on Sunday could be the Patriots' Julian Edelman. The wide receiver has had a limited role in 2010, with just seven receptions (down from 37 a season ago), along with 21 punt returns. But he may be the target of Tom Bady as the Pats try and create mismatches with the Jets linebackers.
First of all, Edelman will be a force as the Patriots' primary punt returner. But I think, if the Patriots use him in a variety of ways, he could be a weapon on offense. If the Patriots can motion Edelman out of bunch sets and into the backfield, he can create some big time mismatches on linebackers. Hell, the Patriots could even throw him a shovel pass, pitch, or let him carry the ball on a direct snap.
We saw the Patriots use Edelman in the backfield at times during training camp, and even a little bit early on in the season, before the emergence of Danny Woodhead. He's got his confidence up after a big time performance against the Dolphins and showed just how elusive he is with the ball in his hands. With both teams looking for a new wrinkle to catch the other team off guard, don't let Julian Edelman be a forgotten man.