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Lions vs. Patriots preview: Rattle Brady

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

New England: Players to watch

Tom Brady, QB: He made his NFL debut in 2000 in a loss to the Lions in mop-up duty in the fourth quarter. He hasn't lost in the three meetings since.

Rob Gronkowski, TE: He's a matchup problem for any defense, He leads the team with 734 yards and nine TDs.

Darrelle Revis, CB: He will draw some of the coverage duty on Lions WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.

Intangibles

Perfect feeling: In the last three meetings since QB Tom Brady's NFL debut against the Lions on Thanksgiving in 2000, he hasn't lost to them.

Home cookin': Playing at Gillette Stadium will be a challenge for the Lions, and not just because of the weather. The Patriots are 86-15 at home since 2002.

Don't forget us: With all the hype around QB Tom Brady, the Lions still have the No. 1 defense in the NFL and believe the Patriots have something to fear.

Best of the best: After falling to the Cardinals, who have the best record in the NFC, the Lions get the best team in the AFC, as the Patriots have a six-game winning streak.

Bag 'em: The Lions defense didn't have any sacks against Drew Stanton last week, but have talked about making Tom Brady uncomfortable with defensive pressure.

Facts and figures

■ RB Jonas Gray (Detroit Country Day) went for career-highs of 201 yards and four TDs last week against the Colts. He'll have a tougher time against the Lions defense.

■ The Patriots have won 13 straight games against NFC North opponents, including both games against the Bears and Vikings this year. They face the Packers next week.

■ In 10 games, the Patriots have scored 125 points in second quarters this season.

■ The Lions had their best rushing day last weekend, with 85 yards by Joique Bell, but if the weather isn't ideal, they'll have to lean a little more on it. The Patriots rank 14th (109.9 yards) in run defense.

■ The Patriots rank ninth in the league in fewest sacks allowed, with Tom Brady going down 16 times. The Lions defense ranks 10th in sacks with 26.