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Patriots-Bears matchup of the day: Tuesday

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 07, 2010 @ 7:05 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week 14 battle between the Patriots and the Bears.

Bears DEs Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije vs. Patriots' pass protection

For the Bears' cover-2 defense to be effective against the Patriots, Peppers and Idonije need to get into the backfield and disrupt QB Tom Brady's rhythm. The Jets sacked Brady three times on Monday night, but those three sacks were the only times they hit him in the entire game. Chicago has to get more consistent pressure on Brady than the Jets did.

Brady, of course, is one of the league's smartest and best quarterbacks. He will get rid of the ball quickly and does a good job of stepping up in the pocket to avoid pass rushers.

Peppers rushes mostly from the DRE spot and Idonije starts at left end. They aren't anchored at those spots, though, and the Bears will move them from side to side. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli also will call for stunts from the front four. OLT Matt Light and ORT Sebastian Vollmer will each get a chance to block Peppers, a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, at different points in the game. Yet it would be no surprise if Chicago focused on matching Peppers against Light, who is older than Vollmer and has more trouble with speed rushers.

TE Alge Crumpler's primary role on offense is to block, so the Patriots could line him up next to Light to double-team Peppers, who has five sacks in the last three games, in obvious passing situations. If New England is able to keep the Bears' pass rush away from Brady, he has the ability to pick apart Chicago's "D."

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