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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/30/2009

*Foxsports.com *believes the Patriots are playing their best football late in the year before entering postseason play. The story suggests the very recent success of QB Tom Brady, WRs Wes Welkerand Randy Moss should make opponents feel nervous. That, combined with RBs Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulkand company picking up "chunks" of yards, they're "unstoppable."

QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker, NT Vince Wilfork and G Logan Mankinshave been named to the AFC Pro Bowl team according to the Boston Globe. Wilfork and Mankins were selected as starters while Brady and Welker are reserves.

When the Patriots defense takes the field against the Houston Texans offense Sunday, keep an eye on QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson. How good is Johnson? He's only the second player to put together consecutive 1,500 yard seasons. "It will be a big challenge," Patriots head coach Belichick said according to the Boston Herald. "They spread the ball around quite a bit, but certainly Andre Johnson gets his share. He's good on the deep balls. He's a big target, tough after the catch. (And Schaub) can make all the throws, and he reads coverages well. That's why he spreads the ball around to a lot of different receivers," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. Schaub is having a career-year throwing for 4,467 yards and 27 touchdowns, nine to Johnson.

Although the Patriots have clinched a postseason berth, the Texans still have a lot to play for. With a win over the Patriots combined with having two of Baltimore, NY Jets and Denver lose, they'll earn a Wildcard spot according to ESPN Boston.

Will Bill Belichick rest his starters? Click here to read a response from Belichick regarding this topic from ESPN Boston.

*ESPN's *Tim Graham says SS Brandon Meriweathergot robbed of a Pro Bowl nod. According to the story, Meriweather was not selected because the AFC picked Denver's Brian Dawkins as its only strong safety while choosing two free safeties. (Jarius Byrd - Bills, Ed Reed - Ravens)

The defense continues to perform over the last three games. The *Providence Journal *reports the defense has allowed only 27 points over that span, all wins over the Jaguars, Bill and Panthers. Belichick cited "consistency" in the pass rush and pass coverage, leading to a more unified defensive unit.

*The Enterprise *suggests the Patriots are the team of the decade. With three Super Bowl victories and five appearances in the AFC Championship game, even Houston's head coach Gary Kubiak titled the Patriots "the top franchise in football over the course of the last 10 years." The team has also captured seven division titles since 2001.

The offense was clicking on all cylinders against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, racking up 35 points in a lopsided win. On the defensive side of the ball, LB Jerod Mayo had perhaps his most "productive" performance of year recording a season-high 15 tackles. "It was probably one of his most productive games, I will say that," said defensive coordinator Dean Pees to the Providence Journal. "There were actually some times — I don't know if it was his best game; it was one of them, and it was certainly a very productive game, which we needed from him. Whether or not it was his best, I don't know."

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