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updated: 12/7/2010 8:01 PM

Brady, Patriots next test for Bears' defense

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  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had plenty to be excited about in Monday's 45-3 victory over the Jets. Brady and the Patriots visit the Bears on Sunday.

      Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had plenty to be excited about in Monday's 45-3 victory over the Jets. Brady and the Patriots visit the Bears on Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

After allowing Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton to post a passer rating of 102.4 in his second NFL start, you have to wonder what New England's Tom Brady will be capable of Sunday against the Bears at Soldier Field.

But the Patriots' 45-3 Monday night rout of the New York Jets should give the Bears plenty of confidence when they host the Jets two weeks later.

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Rex Ryan's team was exposed in all phases of the game, and the Jets (9-3) may very well be the most overrated team in the NFL. Their victory over the Patriots in Week 2 is their only win against a team with a winning record.

The Jets had to go overtime to defeat the Lions (2-10) and the Cleveland Browns (5-7), and they barely defeated the Denver Broncos (3-9), 24-20.

All three of those games, and the Monday night loss to the Patriots, were on the road, which bodes well for the Bears.

But the Patriots (10-2) are the immediate concern.

Brady, at 33 and a lock for the Hall of Fame, never seems to age or show any signs of deterioration, and right now he's as hot as he was in the undefeated regular season of 2007, when he threw 50 TD passes and only 8 interceptions.

He has thrown 4 TD passes and no interceptions in back-to-back games and has gone seven straight games without being picked off, while throwing 17 touchdown passes.

Brady already has 27 TD passes this season and just 4 interceptions, with an NFL-best 109.4 passer rating. His passer rating has been over 117.0 in each of his last four games. It looks like he really misses Randy Moss.

But the Bears' pass defense has been solid all season.

Before Sunday's aberration, they had not allowed a passer rating of higher than Michael Vick's 94.2 in Week 12. Only three opposing quarterbacks all season have had a passer rating of higher than 78.4 against the Bears, who have permitted just 9 TD passes.

Brady hasn't thrown an interception since October, but Vick hadn't been picked off in four years before he threw one against the Bears. During Brady's hot streak, the Patriots have scored 45 points in back-to-back games and more than 30 in four straight.

While New England's Monday night performance might make the Bears shudder, they have to have a better feeling about hosting the Jets the day after Christmas.

Ryan may be the most entertaining coach in the NFL, but he also may be the biggest blowhard. His team looked totally overmatched and couldn't move the ball with any consistency against what is statistically one of the NFL's worst defenses.

The Patriots' defense had allowed an average of 28 points in its previous four games before Monday, and it was dead last against the pass.

That might be something the Bears can take advantage of, but for all the hype this game and the Jets game will produce, neither maters as much as the one sandwiched in between, against the Minnesota Vikings, and the season finale at Green Bay.

If the Bears win those two NFC North games, they'll be in the playoffs as the division champs, regardless of how they fare against the Patriots and the Jets.

Tie-breakers for division title

Bears Packers

1. Head-to-head record 1-0* 0-1*

2. Division record 4-0# 3-1#

3. Record vs. common opponents 7-2@ 7-2@

4. Conference record 7-3^ 6-3^

*Bears-Packers play in Green Bay on Jan. 2.

# Bears play at Minnesota (12-20) and at Green Bay. Packers play at Detroit Sunday and host Bears.

@ All three games remaining for Bears and Packers (not including when they play each other) are against common opponents.

^ Bears have two NFC games remaining, at Vikings and Packers. Packers have three NFC games remaining, at Lions and home against Giants (12-26) and Bears.

Note: In the unlikely event that the Bears and Packers are still deadlocked after the first four tie-breakers, the next tie-breakers are strength of victory and strength of schedule.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

•Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials, at dailyherald.com.

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