CHICAGO – And the beat goes on. In any weather and against anybody, apparently.
Let’s get to it:
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS WIN?
It’s getting to be a broken record. Control the ball with an efficient passing game execute to perfection by quarterback Tom Brady, keep the defense honest with hard running, and get turnovers on defense.
The Patriots are just executing the fundamentals at a phenomenal rate right now. It’s a credit to coach Bill Belichick and his coaching staff. This late in the season there are a lot of guys on the sideline or playing banged up. To get them to execute like this is impressive this late in the season and the envy of a lot of teams.
CB Devin McCourty (ribs) left the game and did not return. “I’m fine,” is all he would say as he basically ran out of the locker room before the media was allowed in.
DE Gerard Warren (knee) left the game and did not return.
DL Ron Brace (head) left the game and did not return.
THREE THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
1. Big plays: In the elements and against a Bears defense with a reputation for being good and physical, you’d figure the Patriots would have to muddy their way towards scores. Wrong. The Patriots had 10 plays of 16 yards or more. The Bears had four. Makes a huge difference. Patriots defense also chipped in with four turnovers.
2. Winning the special teams: The Bears have one of the best special teams units in the league. The Patriots have been hit and miss – though more hits of late. You’d figure just holding serve in that wind would be great. The Patriots did a lot more than that against the Bears. If you keep them from making big plays on special teams, more often than not you’re going to win.
3. Offensive line did well: The Bears had three sacks but all in all, the Patriots’ line did a solid job against a very good defensive line. Julius Peppers was not a factor. And BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
Hard to nitpick after this one and in that weather. Probably the only thing was the Patriots didn’t generate a ton of pass rush (two sacks, three quarterback hits) against a terrible offensive line. But the defense made up for it in the back end.
Green Bay Packers (8-5) at Gillette Stadium, Sunday night, 8:20 p.m.
What’s up with them: Packers are coming off a shocking 7-3 loss to the Lions that put a big hurt on their playoff chances. That makes the matchup with the Patriots almost a must-win for the Packers. A big question this week will be the availability of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was knocked from the Lions game with his second concussion of the season. Rodgers was not cleared until Thursday the first time around by played the following week. Matt Flynn would start if Rodgers can’t.