It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is here, and we’ve been making our lists and checking them twice.

Now, as the sports fans of New England wake up to see what’s under their trees, we reveal our list of holiday gifts sure to bring a smile to all.

For the Patriots, we’re giving them more AFC ineptitude. For years we’ve seen Bill Belichick play Jedi mind tricks on opponents, and contenders fall by the wayside as he wills the Patriots past their foes. And so it is with one week remaining in the regular season. The Pats took care of business Sunday against the hapless Bills, and sure enough the mighty Texans were toppled by the upstart Eagles as New England moved back into the second seed in the AFC.

As we all know by now, the Pats never have won a Super Bowl when they’ve had to play in a wild-card game. This year they gave away control of the bye with a last-minute collapse against the Dolphins and a lackluster effort against Pittsburgh. But none of that matters. For the past 10 years, pretenders have crumbled as they’ve come close to knocking off the mighty Pats. Now with a first-round bye in sight, New England might pull off one of the most improbable runs to Super Sunday in franchise history.

For the Bruins, we’re giving out consistent health. We were reminded how good this team can be on Saturday when Patrice Bergeron returned with a four-point effort and the Bruins dismantled the Nashville Predators at the Garden. The Bruins have been treading water without the likes of Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and, earlier this season, Charlie McAvoy. The trio has only played seven games together this season and the Bruins are 4-2-1 in those games.

There’s work to be done, as evidenced by Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, yet Bergeron’s return showed us how much more potent the offense is when fully stacked. Chara’s return would do the same to the defensive group.

The latest news is Chara could return for next week’s Winter Classic game at Notre Dame. If he and his key teammates can remain on the ice, the Bruins have a chance to win a playoff round or two. If General Manager Don Sweeney can add a top-six forward before the trade deadline, they have a chance to do more than that.

For the Celtics, the perfect gift is a little belief in themselves. The Celtics were the team to beat in the Eastern Conference when the season began but are a team having an identity crisis as the holiday arrives.

We’re more than a third of the way through the season and the Celts are sitting in fifth place in the conference. Could you imagine this team not having home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs? That’s what would happen if the season were to end today.

Of course, it won’t. There’s more than half a season remaining. Still, you have to be concerned when the team held a team meeting to air out frustrations after a 120-107 loss to the Bucks at home. Boston trailed by double digits for most of the game and the crowd headed for the exits early.

Things looked better in Sunday’s win over the Hornets, but the fact remains that Kyrie Irving – the go-to superstar of this group – still doesn’t seem at ease with the team’s style or just about anything else. Time for him to relax and for this team to start pulling in one direction. There’s too much talent on that roster for this team to play the way it has for much of the season.

For the Red Sox, we’re gift-wrapping a reliever. Dave Dombrowski has brought back most of the team that won the World Series, but he couldn’t sign Joe Kelly and hasn’t yet brought Craig Kimbrel back to town. If he doesn’t, he needs to find someone to help the back end of the bullpen. This team is too good to head into 2019 with a questionable bullpen, and it will be a wasted opportunity if he doesn’t finish the relief construction.

No team has won back-to-back World Series since the Yankees did it three straight times from 1998-2000. The Sox have a real chance to repeat but need to put the final pieces of the puzzle together before spring training begins.

If Dombrowski does, we could celebrate another title in the year ahead. In the City of Champions, we’ve come to expect gaudy gifts like that on a yearly basis.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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