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Bears complete three-game Eastern trip against Pats

Nov 22, 2006 - 12:03 AM Chicago (10-1) at New England (7-3) Sunday 4:15 pm EST

FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- The Chicago Bears finish off a three-game road trip against the best AFC team they will face this season.

The New England Patriots have won three of the last five Super Bowls under coach Bill Belichick and with Tom Brady at quarterback. Sunday's meeting with Chicago may turn out to be a preview of Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

The Bears are tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the league's best record after notching back-to-back road wins over the New York Giants and New York Jets.

A win over the Patriots, coupled with losses by Minnesota (4-6) and Green Bay (4-6), would give the Bears their second straight NFC North title under coach Lovie Smith.

The Patriots are seeking their fourth straight AFC East crown. They own a two-game lead over the New York Jets, but all three of their losses have come at home this season.

Led by middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and a strong defensive line, the Bears have allowed a league-low 12.0 points per game with two shutouts. They have held opponents to 10 points or fewer six times and lead the NFL with 29 takeaways.

Last week, Urlacher, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, compiled 11 tackles and an interception in a 10-0 victory over the Jets.

The Patriots flexed their defensive muscle as well in a 35-0 triumph at Green Bay last week. Linebacker Mike Vrabel and defensive end Ty Warren each had 1 1/2 sacks.

New England has allowed just 13.1 points per game and should make things difficult for Rex Grossman, who completed just 11-of-22 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Jets.

Look for Chicago to try to pound the ball on the ground. Thomas Jones rushed for 234 yards in the Bears' last two wins at the Meadowlands.

But the Patriots stuffed Ahman Green last week, limiting the five-time 1,000-yard rusher to 28 yards on 13 carries.

Brady, who tied a career high with four touchdown passes in the rout of Green Bay, will likely test Chicago's cornerbacks Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman with his quartet of wide receivers - Reche Caldwell, Chad Jackson, Doug Gabriel and Troy Brown.

Brady will also utilize his tight ends Ben Watson and Daniel Graham over the middle against safeties Danieal Manning and Todd Johnson.

The Pats won the last meeting, 33-30, at Chicago in 2002.

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