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Patriots host 9-1 Bears on Thanksgiving weekend

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS(7-3) vs.CHICAGO BEARS** (9-1)
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Gillette Stadium (68,756)
4:15 p.m. EST

The Patriots welcome the NFC's top team to Foxborough this weekend as the 9-1 Chicago Bears come to town. The game will feature the NFL's top two defenses - the Bears lead the league, allowing just 12.0 points per game, and the Patriots rank second, allowing 13.1 points per game. Both defenses will be put to a strong test, with the Patriots coming off of a 35-point output in Green Bay and Chicago averaging 28.2 points per game, a mark that ranks second in the NFL. The Patriots have compiled a 33-6 (.846) record in games played on Thanksgiving or later in the NFL season since 2001. New England has won 17 of its last 19 games against NFC opposition, including seven straight home wins over NFC teams. This week's game marks the first game in a two-game homestand and will be the first contest on the Patriots' new FieldTurf playing surface at Gillette Stadium.

GIVING THANKS
One of the hallmarks of the Patriots' success over the last five seasons has been saving their best football for the end of the season. Since 2001, the Patriots are 33- 6 (.846) in games played on Thanksgiving Day or later, a mark that is by far the best in the NFL. New England has posted a higher winning percentage on Thanksgiving or later (as compared to its pre-Thanksgiving mark) in four of the last five years. The only exception to that trend came in 2004, when the Patriots went 9- 1 before the holiday and 8-1 after it en route to the Super Bowl XXXIX title.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by Fox. The game can be seen in Boston on WFXT-TV Channel 25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties and Troy Aikman will provide analysis. Reporter Pam Oliver will provide updates from the sidelines. Fox's national pregame show will also be broadcast live from Foxborough.

RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 30th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti for the 23rd season.

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots and Bears will meet for the 10th time in regular-season play as Chicago makes its first trip to New England for a regular-season contest since 1997. The Patriots hold a 6-3 overall lead in the regular-season series, but Chicago claimed a victory in the teams' only postseason matchup, taking a 46-10 decision in Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season. Since Super Bowl XX, the Patriots have recorded a 4-1 record against Chicago and held the Bears to a touchdown or less in three straight games from 1988- 97. Chicago will make just its third regular-season trip to New England, having previously traveled to play the Patriots in 1988 and 1997. In the last meeting between the teams in 2002, the Patriots staged one of the most memorable comeback in team history, rallying from a 27-6 deficit late in the third quarter to rally for a 33-30 win that was clinched on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Patten with 21 seconds left in the game.

PATRIOTS VS. NFC NORTH
This season, the Patriots will play each of the four teams from the NFC North (Green Bay, Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago) as part of the NFL's scheduling rotation. New England is 2-0 against the NFC North so far this year, shutting out Green Bay 35-0 last week and claiming a 31-7 road victory at Minnesota on Oct. 30. This week's game marks the second of three straight contests against NFC North foes. New England last faced off against the NFC North in the 2002 season and compiled a 3-1 record in those games that year. The Patriots hold an all-time regular-season record of 20-15 (.571) against the four NFC North teams. Both of the teams to which New England has lost the Super Bowl reside in the NFC North - Green Bay (XXXI) and Chicago (XX).

PATRIOTS VS. NFC
The Patriots have been dominant against NFC teams in recent seasons, compiling a 21-4 (.840) record against the conference since 2001. New England's record over that span includes three Super Bowl victories over NFC teams. The Patriots' 33-30 victory over the Bears on Nov. 10, 2002 began a streak during which the Patriots have won 17 of their last 19 games against NFC competition, going 17-2 (.895) over that span. This season, New England is 2-0 against the NFC, having defeated Minnesota and Green Bay on the road by a combined score of 66-7.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE
The Chicago Bears will be making their first appearance in Foxborough since 1997 and will begin a string of three straight home games for the Patriots against infrequent visitors to Foxborough. Following the Chicago game, the Patriots will host the Detroit Lions on Dec. 3, marking Detroit's first trip to New England since 1993. Two weeks later, in their next home game, the Patriots will greet the Houston Texans, who will make their first trip to Foxborough since entering the NFL in 2002.

UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY
The Bears have made just two regular-season appearances in New England prior to this week, traveling to Foxborough in 1988 and 1997. The two games make the Bears the least-frequent visitor to New England of any non-expansion team. Only Baltimore (2 trips since entering the NFL in 1996), Carolina (1 trip since entering the NFL in 1995) and Houston (no trips since entering the NFL in 2002) have appeared in New England as many or fewer times than Chicago.

TOM ON TURF
This week's game will be the first on the Patriots' new FieldTurf surface at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady has enjoyed significant success on artificial surfaces throughout his career.

  • Brady has compiled a career record of 19-1 as a starter in games played on artificial surfaces, including regular season and playoff games. His only loss came at Buffalo in the 2003 regular-season opener.
  • In his 20 previous starts on artificial surfaces, Brady has thrown 39 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions.
  • On artificial surfaces, Brady has completed 64.8 percent of his passes (406-627), while completing 60.8 percent of his passes on natural grass (1595-2622).
  • On artificial surfaces, Brady has compiled a career passer rating of 97.9, compared to an 86.3 career rating on grass.
  • On artificial surfaces, Brady has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2.4-to-1, compared to a ratio of 1.8-to-1 on grass.
  • The Patriots have won each of their last 12 games on artificial turf.

HISTORICAL LOOKThe Chicago Bears are one of the NFL's original teams, with a rich history that dates back to 1920. In addition to their two previous games in Foxborough against the Patriots, the Bears have also played in New England against three other NFL franchises that formerly called New England their home - the Providence Steam Roller, the Boston Braves/Redskins and the Boston Yanks.

QUICK HITS

  • The Bears will make their first regular-season appearance at Gillette Stadium this week. The Patriots are 18-4 (.818) when playing a team at Gillette Stadium for the first time.
  • This week's game is the second in a string of three straight games for the Patriots against NFC teams. The Patriots are one of four NFL teams this season to play three consecutive games against teams from outside of their own conference. The others are Buffalo, Carolina and San Francisco.

CONNECTIONS

  • With the New York Giants from 1987-1990, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick served as defensive coordinator while Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was a regional scout. Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson played for the Giants during that time.
  • Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears served as wide receivers coach for the Bears from 1993-1998.
  • Patriots offensive lineman Wesley Britt and Bears defensive end Mark Anderson played together for three seasons at the University of Alabama from 2002-2004.
  • Patriots tight end David Thomas and Bears running back Cedric Benson were teammates for three seasons at the University of Texas from 2002-2004. Thomas also played with Bears cornerback Nathan Vasher from 2002-2003 at Texas.
  • Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins (2001-2004) and defensive back James Sanders (2001-2004) played with Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian (1999-2003) and strong safety Cameron Worrell (2000-2002) at Fresno State University.
  • Patriots wide receivers Jabar Gaffney (1999-2001) and Reche Caldwell (1998-2001) played at the University of Florida along with Bears quarterback Rex Grossman (1999- 2002), defensive end Alex Brown (1998-2001), nose tackle Ian Scott (2000-2002) and strong safety Todd Johnson (1998-2002). Patriots wide receiver Chad Jackson also attended Florida (2003-2005).
  • Patriots offensive lineman Dan Koppen and Bears defensive tackle Antonio Garay were four-year teammates at Boston College from 1999-2002.
  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady served as backup to Bears quarterback Brian Griese at the University of Michigan from 1996-1997.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and Bears linebacker Darrell McClover were four-year teammates at the University of Miami. Wilfork also played with Bears cornerback Devin Hester at Miami in 2003.
  • Patriots running back Corey Dillon and Bears center Olin Kreutz played at the University of Washington in 1996.
  • Patriots linebacker Junior Seau and Bears linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo were teammates with the Miami Dolphins from 2003-2004. Seau also played with Bears quarterback Brian Griese and defensive end Adewale Ogunleye while a member of the Dolphins in 2003.
  • Patriots linebacker Don Davis and Bears tackle John St. Clair were teammates with the St. Louis Rams from 2001-2002.
  • Patriots linebacker Don Davis played for Bears head coach Lovie Smith when Smith served as Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach in 1999-2000 and St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator in 2001-2002.
  • Bears defensive assistant Lloyd Lee played safety at Dartmouth College from 1994-1998.
  • Bears offensive quality control coach Mike Bajakian played quarterback at Williams College from 1992-1995.
  • Bears special teams assistant Kevin O'Dea coached Patriots linebacker Junior Seau while he was a defensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers in 1994-1995, and Patriots linebacker Don Daviswhile he was an assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999-2000.
  • In 2004, Bears defensive backs coach Steven Wilks served as defensive backs coach at the University of Notre Dame, while Patriots linebacker Corey Mays played for the Fighting Irish.
  • Bears kicker Robbie Gould was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and was released just prior to the start of that season.
  • Patriots assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner were on the coaching staff at Pacific in 1977.

MILESTONES FOR BELICHICK AND BRADY
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will each reach a career milestone in this week's game against the Bears. For Belichick, this week's game will be his 200th career game as a head coach, including 187 regular-season games and 13 playoff contests. For Brady, this week's game is scheduled to be his 100th career start, including 89 regular-season games and 11 playoff contests. Belichick has compiled a 117-82 (.588) record in his first 199 games as a head coach and will become the 10th active head coach to have been a head coach in at least 200 games. Brady has compiled a 75-24 (.758) record in his first 99 games as a starting quarterback and is the winningest NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Tom Brady will start against the Chicago Bears for the second time in his career. In his only other start against Chicago, he led the largest comeback of his career, rallying the Patriots from a 21-point deficit late in the third quarter to rally for a 33-30 road victory. Bears signal caller Rex Grossman is slated to make his first career start against New England.

HOT WHEN IT'S COLD
The Patriots have enjoyed tremendous recent success in cold weather and are 21-3 since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 34 degrees or less.

  • New England has won 16 of its last 18 games when the kickoff temperature has been 34 degrees or colder.
  • Since 1993, the Patriots are 21-3 when the temperature is 34 degrees or colder, and 15-1 when it's 30 degrees or colder.
  • Tom Brady is 21-2 as a starter when the temperature is less than 40 degrees. His only loss prior to the Colts game on Nov. 5 came in the 2005 regular-season finale against Miami, when Brady started and played in only the first quarter, leaving the game in a 7-7 tie.

NFC SUCCESS

66-7
The combined score by which the Patriots have defeated their two previous NFC opponents this season, beating Minnesota 31- 7 and Green Bay 35-0.

21-4
The Patriots' record against the NFC since 2001, including a 3-0 record in Super Bowl play.

17-2
The Patriots current streak against NFC teams, a span of 17 wins in 19 games that began with a 33-30 comeback victory over the Bears on Nov. 10, 2002.

TURF WAR

12The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won on artificial surfaces. This week's game is the first at Gillette Stadium on a new FieldTurf surface.

19-1
Tom Brady's career record as a starter on artificial surfaces.

56-23
Brady's career record as a starter in games played on natural grass.

+24.1%
The difference in Brady's winning percentage on turf as opposed to on grass. He has won 95 percent of his starts on turf and 70.9 percent of his starts on grass.

+11.6The difference in Brady's career passer rating on turf as opposed to on grass. He has compiled a 97.9 career rating on turf and a 86.3 career rating on grass.

+4.0%
The difference in Brady's career completion percentage on turf as opposed to on grass. He has completed 64.8 percent of his passes on turf (406-627) and 60.8 percent of his passes on grass (1595-2622).

+0.46
The difference in Brady's touchdowns per game on turf as opposed to on grass. He is averaging 1.95 touchdowns per game on turf and 1.49 touchdowns per game on grass.

STINGY DEFENSE

13.1
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed in 2006.

2
The Patriots' NFL rank in points allowed per game. Only Chicago ranks higher (12.0).

14.9
The Patriots team record for fewest points allowed per game in a full season, achieved in 2004.

17.52
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed since 2001, a mark that ranks third in the NFL over that span, trailing only Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.

15.90
The average number of points per game that the Patriots have allowed at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. The mark represents the fewest points per game allowed at home over that span.

13
The number of times Bill Belichick's defenses have finished in the NFL's top 10 in fewest points allowed since he was first named a defensive coordinator in 1985.

MOVING THE CHAINS

11-for-13The Patriots' success rate on fourth-down conversion attempts this season. Their 11 fourth down conversions leads the NFL (Minnesota, 10). Their 81.3 percent conversion rate also leads the league (Denver, 75.0 percent).

1-for-7
The success rate for Patriots opponents on fourth-down conversion attempts this season. Their one fourth-down conversion allowed is tied for the league lead and their 14.3 percent conversion rate is the lowest allowed in the league.

219
The number of first downs the Patriots offense has gained this season. The mark ranks second in the NFL, trailing only Indianapolis (236).

160
The number of first downs the Patriots defense has allowed this season. The mark is tied for the fourth fewest in the NFL, trailing only Chicago (140), Baltimore (149) and Jacksonville (153).

THE KRAFT ERA

137
The number of regular-season and playoff victories the Patriots have earned since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is tied for the highest total in the NFL over that span.

4
The number of times the Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994. No other team has made more than two Super Bowl appearances in that span.

137-83
The Patriots' overall record since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 (including postseason), a .623 winning percentage. The figure ranks second in the NFL over that span.

76-33
The Patriots' record at home since 1994, including regularseason and postseason games, a winning percentage of .697.

32-9
The Patriots' record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games (.780 win pct).

THE HEAD COACH

32
The number of years Bill Belichick has been an NFL coach, making him the longest tenured among the 32 head coaches.

7
The number of head coaches in the NFL or college who were assistant coaches under Belichick (Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Nick Saban, Charlie Weis, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Hill and Al Groh).

41-2Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 25 points or more.

62-5
Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 21 points or more.

STREAKING

99
The number of consecutive games Tom Brady has started for the Patriots, including 88 regular-season games and 11 playoff contests. Brady's streak ranks third in the NFL behind only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

134
The number of consecutive home games that the Patriots have sold out. The streak includes preseason, regular-season and playoff games and dates back to the 1994 regular-season opener. The streak also includes this week's game against the Bears.

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