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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/04/2010

The Patriots have clinched the No. 3 seed in the AFC and will host the No. 6 seeded Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs at Gillette Stadium on Sunday at 1:00p.m. The Patriots defeated the Ravens 27-21 on Oct. 4.

Multiple sources report WR Wes Welker has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his knee. He will undergo further tests today for the final extent of the injury. The injury occurred in the first quarter of the Patriots' 34-27 loss against the Houston Texans. Welker, whose knee gave out trying to cut on the grass, gingerly limped to the sideline with assistance from Patriots trainers before getting on a cart en route to the locker room. Welker is believed to go on injured reserve and undergo surgery once swelling in the knee decreases if in fact he tore ligaments. ESPN's Adam Schefter initially reported the injury and noted it was the same injury sustained by QB Tom Brady in Week one of the 2008 season.

CB Shawn Springson Welker according to ESPN Boston: "It's no secret around the whole NFL how important Wes is to us," Springs said. "My prayers are with him, because I know Wes is one of those guys who wants to be out there all the time. We are going to miss him."

*CBSsports *writes Welker's injury is a long-term issue. Is it possible he will miss the 2010-2011 season?

Welker concludes the 2009 season with an NFL-high 123 receptions. Although inactive for two games earlier in the season, he caught one pass in Sunday's game matching Herman Moore in 1995 for the second most receptions in a single season. Additionally, Welker averaged 8.8 receptions per game during the regular season. This is good for the second highest mark in NFL history.

In the absence of Welker, WR Julian Edelman had a career day. Edelman recorded a career-high 10 receptions for 103 yards according to the Boston Globe. His previous high came against the New York Jets on Sept. 20 when he tallied 98 yards on eight catches. ESPN's Tim Graham writes that Edelman "will have to rise up and do his best Welker impersonation."

*SI.com's *Peter King writes that head coach BIll Belichick will try "to win this month with the running combo of Sammy Morris, Kevin FaulkandFred Tayloreating the clock" because the wide receiver core is "wafer-thin."

The *Providence Journal *reports QB Tom Bradyhas been playing all season with three cracked ribs, as first reported by *CBS Sports' *Charley Casserly. Also, Brady is said to have a fractured finger on his throwing hand.

The *Boston Herald *reports that NT Vince Wilfork, DL Ty Warren, CB Leigh Bodden and RBs Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulkwere all inactive for Sunday's game. It's reported that Wilfork, Warren, Bodden and Maroney were all resting lower-body injuries.

The Patriots allowed the fewest sacks (18) in franchise history in 2009 since the league moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

The defense struggled to close out the game yesterday against the Texans, blowing a 14-point lead. The defense allowed an Arian Foster 3-yard touchdown run with 1:54 to play to give the Texans a lead they would not relinquish. The Patriots have blown leads of 10, 17, and a 14-point lead twice this season according to the Boston Herald.

A shining moment from the defense came from CB Darius Butler, who returned 91-yard interception for a touchdown giving the Patriots a 20-13 lead at the time. "Whenever I'm on the field, I want to make plays," Butler said according to the *Boston Herald. *"I was lucky I was in the right position to make that one. I feel great. But every week, the intensity goes up. Hopefully I can go in there and make some plays (next week)."

Profootballweekly.com suggests the offensive line is "coming into form again." The offense has rushed for at least 96 yards in every game but three this season. The emergence of rookie OL Sebastian Vollmer has been a storyline all season long.

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