Todd: As we post our final TOST blog entry of 2014, I want to take a moment and thank everyone who loyally reads our sports columns, even if you might be confusing us for Jon James or Bob Marley.  Every website needs some variety, and we like to think of ourselves as the filler between all the breaking news alerts on Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

Before turning to sports, I must salute a pair of TV personalities that will be sorely missed as they take their respective bows this week.  First, The Colbert Report signed off Dec. 18 with a farewell that was the perfect blend of surreal and sentimental.  While Stephen Colbert will eventually resurface as the new host of CBS’ Late Show, it’s doubtful he’ll bring the same type of biting, satirical insanity as he did playing the faux news anchor on Comedy Central.

Then there’s Craig Ferguson, who tonight on CBS will host The Late Late Show for the last time. The Scottish-born host brought a Monty Python-esque whimsy to the late night talk format that didn’t always hit the mark, but deserved credit for its daring unpredictability.  What other nightly show can boast having a robot sidekick and two people dancing in a horse costume?

Continuing on the subject of departures, the Rajon Rondo era is officially over in Boston.  To steal a brilliant line from Mr. Colbert, when I first heard news of the Rondo trade my blood was boiling, and it better stop soon because I like my veins al dente.

I guess what frustrates me most is that Rondo is such a unique talent on the court, but is probably not a player worthy of a max contract, so Danny Ainge had little choice but to move him.  But all the Celtics received from the Dallas Mavericks was a couple of bench players and a protected first-round pick.  Would Ainge have been better off waiting until the NBA trade deadline in February to trade Rondo?  It sure feels like the C’s received the bad end of a Yankee swap this holiday season, and I speak from experience.

Boston’s other winter sports team has also been burning up the trade lines, as the Bruins continue to struggle offensively.  Names like Olympic standout T.J. Oshie and Taylor Hall (the winger the B’s couldn’t get in the 2010 because they had the second overall pick and had to settle for Tyler Seguin) have been heard around the rumor mill, but the price is likely too high for Peter Chiarelli to swing a deal.  The B’s still have a strong nucleus and it makes little sense to deal off part of them for one goal scorer.

Meanwhile, the Patriots won another set of matching hats and t-shirts following their defeat of the Dolphins last week.  That makes a perfect dozen for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the last fourteen years.  No matter how inadequate the rest of the AFC East has been for what feels like an eternity, it’s important for us Pats fans to not take this accomplished for granted.

As I mentioned last week, the defense continues its domination just in time for when they will need it the most.  In the last five games they’ve allowed just 13 second half points, and in the last four games no opponent has even reached the end zone.

Then there’s the special teams, who are treating opponents like bad children at Christmas.  Field goal blocks are the holiday equivalent of a coal-filled stocking, and Scott O’Brien’s group has now blocked three of them season, running back two for touchdowns.  The Pats might have gotten away with some improper alignment on their block last week, but their overall play has still been tremendous.  Kudos also go to the kick and punt return teams, led by captain Matthew Slater and a stellar cast of characters.

Finally, there’s Brady—last week his 17-yard scamper (his longest run in seven years) helped reignite the Pats offense in the third quarter.  My only pet peeve of late is the offensive play-calling and execution at the end of the first half, which used to be a time of the game that Brady and Co. dominated.  Feels like it is trending worse each week, and I hope this doesn’t come back to bite them come playoff time.

Time for two weeks of Pats and NFL game picks.  First, the Pats trek down to the Meadowlands this weekend in what should be Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s final game in front of the Gang Green crowd.  I’m sure ol’ Rexy will pull out all the stops to try for one last win against Belichick, but it’s not happening: Patriots 31, J-e-t-s 14.

My Week 16 picks (3-0 last week, 27-14 season): Dolphins over Vikings, Lions over Bears and Seahawks over Cardinals.

Pats wrap up the regular season at home against the Bills, a team that has played well of late but have still lost thirteen straight games in Foxboro.  Unless you’re a superstitious Pats fan, I can’t imagine you see a loss here with the AFC’s top playoff seed likely still in play: Patriots 24, Bills 13.

My Week 17 picks: Ravens over Browns, Eagles over Giants and Chiefs over Chargers.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good time until 2015!

Mike: Well it's finally over. The last of the 2008 championship has gone out the door.

I wish I could be as outraged as Todd, but I'm just not. This trade was going to happen, and I don't think it's the last move they make. The have a bunch of draft picks and a large trade exception that they can use as well.

This is rebuilding, Phase 1, and it had to happen since the Celtics were going to lose Rondo at the end of the season for nothing, since there was no way he was getting a max contract here. A decision I completely agree with by the way.

As for the Pats, they have succeeded in making division championships routine. Back before Brady arrived, a division title was cause for a huge celebration, and you would see everyone sporting the T-shirts, since the Pats barely ever won anything.

Now, it's like "meh, I'll wait until they win something meaningful..."

For the modern Patriots, the season begins in late December. Let's hope this season ends with hats and T-shirts and another Lombardi Trophy!

As for this week, there is no way they lose to the Jets, Pats 45-Jets 17.

And in fact, they will take care of the Bills as well in Week 17. Pats win 38-10.

For my picks (1-2 last week, 28-13 season): I'll take Green Bay over Tampa Bay, Denver over the Bengals and Baltimore over Houston.

Week 17 I'll take Green Bay over Detroit, Dallas over Washington and Arizona over San Francisco.

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