Brady vs Romo: A Title Bout?

No, it's not a title bout between two heavyweights, but the pregame hype may lead you to think that. Tom Brady and the Patriots take on Tony Romo and "America's Team?" Their last meeting was a beat-down administered by Brady and co in Big D four years ago. Is a repeat on the agenda?

Alert the paparazzi: Brady is set to battle Romo

   Tom Brady and Tony Romo have plenty of similarities, but one major difference.

   Both are the quarterbacks and franchise faces of high-profile NFL teams. Both dabble in the Hollywood celebrity lifestyle and occasionally offer fodder for the paparazzi.

   But one is in the midst of a consistent, ridiculously productive beginning of the new season, this coming on the heels of the NFL's first unanimous MVP season. That's Brady.

   The other is riding an early-season roller coaster of both production and perception. Romo has been ripped for his questionable decisions and leadership while being roundly praised for his toughness in playing through broken ribs and a punctured lung.

   The duo will meet Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, their two styles and resumes clashing in a battle of two of America's favorite teams and notable sports franchises.

   Dallas enters the game coming off a bye, having had a full two weeks to digest its huge collapse against the Lions that came in large part due to two Romo interceptions returned for touchdowns.

   New England enters the matchup -- which comes a week before its bye -- having won two games in a row after a surprise early-season hiccup in Buffalo.

   While Brady has been the catalyst for almost everything the Patriots have accomplished this season -- he's already thrown for 1,874 yards and 14 touchdowns through five games -- New England's defense actually stepped up a bit. The defense helped share the load in Sunday's 30-21 win over the Jets in Foxborough.

   In the victory, New England allowed a season-low 255 yards of total offense while holding New York to just 3-of-11 success (27 percent) on third-down conversions.

   BenJarvus Green-Ellis also rushed for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns in what was easily the Patriots' most well-rounded victory of the season.

   "I thought we played better on defense. There were some good things to build on," coach Bill Belichick said. "We've still got a long way to go. It was one of our good weeks of practice, so hopefully that was reinforced by what we did in the game."

   LINEUP WATCH: The safety position continues to feature an unsettled, unsure mix of questionable talent. After letting go of former starters Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders in the preseason, the Patriots have had unproven guys like Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown and James Ihedigbo start games this season. Third-year player Patrick Chung has evolved into a solid starter at one safety spot, but the job next to him remains up for grabs and a weakness of the New England defense.

   BY THE NUMBERS: The Patriots have scored at least 30 points in 13 consecutive games, dating back to last season. The streak is one shy of the NFL record set by the Rams from 1999-2000. The last team to hold the Patriots below 30 points was defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's Cleveland Browns last December. Ryan will get another shot this week when his Cowboys' defense heads to New England.


   --T Sebastian Vollmer missed his third consecutive game and fourth of the season with a back injury. Vollmer, who had back surgery in college at Houston, played in Week 2 but otherwise has been out of action early in the year.
   --CB Ras-I Dowling, a rookie second-round pick who was often injured in his days at Virginia, was active against the Jets after missing two games with a hip injury. He did not play.
   --DT Mike Wright missed his fourth straight game with a concussion. Wright ended last season on injured reserve due to effects from a severe concussion.
   --TE Aaron Hernandez returned to action after missing two weeks due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Hernandez wore a brace on the knee but caught five passes for 56 yards.
   --QB Ryan Mallett was the only healthy scratch among New England's inactives against the Jets.
   --LB Jerod Mayo missed his first game of the season with a reported MCL sprain that could force him to miss as much as a month.
   --WR Julian Edelman (ankle) missed a game for the first time this season.
   --RB Danny Woodhead (ankle) missed a game for the first time this season.
   --S Josh Barrett, who is dealing with thumb and hamstring issues, sat out against the Jets. The hamstring ailment was the one that kept him out of action.

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