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Patriots.com News Blitz - 1/3/2008

QB Tom Brady and WR Randy Moss have been getting a lot of attention since their spectacular touchdown play against the Giants last Saturday.

But while they've certainly given the Patriots an identity, there's more to New England's prolific offense than just those two superstars.

"With [Moss] playing as well as he has, it's made things a lot easier for a lot of the other players such as Wes Welker, Laurence Maroney, Stallworth and Gaffney," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said in a USA TODAY feature today. "He opens things up for us. It's great that he's played well this year but all of those guys have. It's a great group."

And let's not forget the running game, which has flourished in the last month of the season.

"I knew that our passing game was doing an excellent job this whole year," observed RB Laurence Maroney. "If people were going to keep letting us pass the ball, then why not keep passing it? Eventually, it was going to come down to where we were going to need to run the ball and, hopefully, I showed people that we do have a running game."

The Providence Journal, meanwhile, stays focused on Moss and Welker as the dynamic duo on New England's offense. Here's part of their case:

Moss is everything you'd want in a receiver — tall (6-foot-4), strong (210 sinewy pounds), fast (4.4 speed), with long arms and huge hands.

*Where Moss is scary, Welker is pesty ... he's short — 5-foot-9, on tiptoes — and is quick, rather than fast. *

"Wes is fearless going over the middle," Brady noted of Welker. "He's so elusive. I don't remember any matchups where he didn't have an edge with his quickness."

The praise isn't nearly as loud for the defense, however, at least not on Sports Illustrated's website. One NFL writer there says the Patriots won't win it all unless they improve the way they've played defensively the past few weeks.

"If that sounds harsh," he writes in part, "that's because it is. But that's also the reality of New England's situation. In their six games since drubbing Buffalo on the road in Week 11, the Patriots have recorded only one victory that falls under the heading of a complete, four-quarter domination. That came in the 34-13 dismissal of visiting Pittsburgh in Week 14.

"If New England is to survive a tough two-game trip through an AFC playoff bracket that could match them up with the likes of strong, hot opponents such as Jacksonville (11-5), San Diego (11-5) and Indianapolis (13-3), it needs to be on its game at least to the level we saw when the Steelers came to Gillette Stadium almost four weeks ago."

QUICK HITS

So, which teams are most likely to beat the Pats in the playoffs? FOXSports.com offers a guess today.

The* Miami Herald*, though, says the Pats will head to Arizona for Super Bowl XLII to face the Packers. Check out their picks for every playoff matchup.

A Bay State columnist offers an argument for Brady to be named NFL MVP this Saturday.

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