Scouting Report: New England Patriots

Until someone steps up and stops the Patriots passing attack, no opponent gets the edge here. QB Tom Brady has been playing at an otherworldly level for the entire season. While many have rightly focused on his touchdown and yardage totals, the most impressive stat just may be his interceptions.

To have every team knowing that Brady is going to be giving them between 35-45 chances to grab one of his passes and still have only six wind up in enemy hands is the most impressive aspect of his season.

The Dolphins won't be getting many either, even though they rank third in the league in pass defense. Their secondary was lost in the team's first meeting, surrendering a number of big plays plus an embarrassing late drive when Brady came off the bench following a Matt Cassel pick and yawned his way to his sixth touchdown pass.


-- Brady was named The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year this week. Sports Illustrated gave out their honor as well recently, which went to Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

"Tom Brady has given us one of the greatest seasons in NFL history," said Sporting News senior vice president/editorial director John Rawlings. "You can't help but admire what he has accomplished -- even if much of the NFL world has suddenly turned anti-Patriots."

-- With a victory against the Dolphins, the Patriots would go undefeated versus the AFC East for the first time in franchise history.

-- Five of the seven games between the Patriots and Dolphins have been decided by seven points or less since Bill Belichick became the head coach in 2000.

-- The Patriots and Dolphins have split their season series in each of the last three seasons. A win on Sunday would give New England its sixth sweep in the 42-year rivalry with Miami.

-- "I think a lot of guys are deserving, especially at my position. It's one of those deals that doesn't mean that much. It would be nice, but we have bigger goals to tackle." -- Receiver Wes Welker, on not making the Pro Bowl.

BY THE NUMBERS: 87 -- Number of points the Patriots have scored in the final two minutes of the first or second half this season, the most in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think that's a conversation that you can have, and the fans can have, but it's not really part of our approach to the game. I don't think it's a good one to have. I don't really understand it either. You're going to pick out one guy that is important and say somebody else isn't? I don't think that's a good way to manage your football team." -- Bill Belichick, on resting his starters over the final two games.


-- Eight members of the New England Patriots have been selected to represent the Patriots and the AFC at the 2008 Pro Bowl in Honolulu on Feb. 10. QB Tom Brady, C Dan Koppen, T Matt Light, G Logan Mankins, WR Randy Moss, CB Asante Samuel, LB Mike Vrabel and DL Vince Wilfork have all earned All-Star honors. The Patriots will send eight players to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 1985, and the team's eight Pro Bowlers tie the 1985 squad with the most Patriots Pro Bowl players since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The Boston Patriots sent a team-record 11 players to the AFL All-Star Game on two occasions (1963 and 1966). Last season, two Patriots were named to the Pro Bowl (Light and DE Richard Seymour).

- -The Patriots waived defensive backs Rashad Baker and Eddie Jackson on Tuesday and signed free-agent nose tackle Rashad Moore, who was with the team in training camp. The addition of Moore adds help up front after the team lost backup nose Mike Wright to a season-ending foot injury last week. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Moore is more of a pure nose tackle than Wright and will likely back up Vince Wilfork.

-- TE Kyle Brady (foot) and OL Billy Yates (foot) were not present for the media-access portion of practice for the second day in a row. S Rodney Harrison and LB Adalius Thomas also weren't present for the media-access portion of practice on Thursday.

-- WR Troy Brown was the lone player wearing a black jersey, signifying that he was the practice player of the week last week. Brown played the role of Jets receiver/quarterback Brad Smith the week leading up to the game.

-- S Rodney Harrison (team decision) didn't participate in practice on Thursday. Harrison is expected to start this Sunday versus the Dolphins.

-- LB Adalius Thomas (team decision) didn't participate in practice on Thursday. Thomas was banged up in the Jets game but is expected to play this week.

-- TE Benjamin Watson (ankle) had limited participation in Thursday's practice. Watson missed last week's game against the Jets.

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