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The real troublemaker in this one ...

Posted by Albert Breer  December 18, 2009 12:25 PM

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OK, so I understand why everyone wants to talk about Terrell Owens, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and even a Jairus Byrd.

But I think a lot of people have missed the Bill to really look out for on Sunday -- tailback Fred Jackson, who's developing into a Patriot killer.

In last year's wind-swept season-ender, even with the passing game posing about zero threat, Jackson ran for 136 yards on 27 carries against the Patriots. In this year's season-opener, he rushed for 57 yards on 15 carries, and caught five passes for 83 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass on a screen in the fourth quarter that looked like the clincher at the time.

Marshawn Lynch has returned from his suspension to start the season since. But there's plenty of sentiment out there that Jackson's the better player now, and you can bet Bill Belichick and Co. have been all over this guy this week.

So when I was putting together my mid-week report, I asked a scouting friend of mine about Lynch, and here's where he went ... "Marshawn Lynch (lengthy pause) ... I just think, in my opinion, Fred Jackson's a better back. He's more natural, more instinctive. Lynch looks big, like he came back from his suspension a little heavy."

Interesting thing is, their stats are nearly identical since Lynch came back at the start of October. Lynch has 422 yards and two touchdowns on 108 carries. Jackson has 440 yards and two touchdowns on 115 carries in that time.

But if you're looking for trends, then Jackson's the guy to keep your eye on.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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