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Five questions with Patriots correspondent Ian Rapoport

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Posted Dec. 02, 2010 @ 11:02 a.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Each week throughout the season, we'll ask our Patriots correspondent and Boston Herald writer five questions about the Pats. This week, Ian looks ahead to the big Monday-night game against the Jets and discusses how the defensive line is key in slowing them down.

1. Are the players, coaches and those around the club surprised with CB Devin McCourty's performance thus far?

Rapoport: I think the plays he has made are a little eye-opening — you don't see rookies make those kind of plays. He outmaneuvered Calvin Johnson for one of his picks, he made a good, sound, technical play on one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. That may be surprising. He is the oldest 21- or 22-year-old on the team. He is professional; he studies, treats every practice like a game and is in ridiculous shape.

2. You wrote about the Patriots' recent success in yards after the catch, does it look like Wes Welker is a little healthier and able to break more tackles?

Rapoport: He is definitely getting healthier. This is what it's supposed to be like. Most players who tear an ACL are out 9-10 months. He's not back all the way obviously, and we won't see that until next year, but this as close as he's been to that elite receiver he was. He has averaged 13 yards per catch in the last three games, and lo and behold, the offense has been phenomenal.

3. Have you ever seen a regular-season game with more hype than the upcoming Patriots-Jets game?

Rapoport: I can't remember one, not even growing up, but this is the way it should be. It's not a surprise the AFC East is probably the best division in football. It's not a surprise they're both good. Fans want every angle, they want every evaluation of coverage, the hype will be unbelievable and I don't doubt it will live up for it.

4. The Patriots do something different on defense each week with personnel and schemes. What do you see them doing against the Jets?

Rapoport: What's going to be key for them is to somehow get pressure without blitzing as much as they did against the Steelers. They can help by disguising at the line like they did against (Peyton) Manning, confusing him into two picks, and he's way smarter than most quarterbacks. Getting pressure with four is important; they are going to depend on their pass rushers, maybe having Mike Wright back will help. They need to avoid getting killed by runs in their sub look, that's a really big deal. They have to somehow do all those things, and the Jets' offense could maybe be held in check, but the Jets have more weapons than they did in Week Two.

5. What's your prediction for the Patriots-Jets game?
Rapoport: The Patriots are so good at home, so good when Brady has that extra second to adjust at the line and take a look at their pressure. It's his fourth time seeing this defense, so it's easier for him to understand what they're trying to show. Patriots 24, Jets 20

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