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Patriots opening defense

10.31.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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The Patriots opened with the following defensive personnel package:

DL: Brandon Deaderick, Vince Wilfork (at nose tackle), Mike Wright
ILBs: Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo,
OLBs: Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham
CBs: Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty
S: Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders

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Patriots opening offense

10.31.10 at 4:19 pm ET
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The Patriots opened with the following personnel on offense:

QB: Tom Brady
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WRs: Wes Welker, Deion Branch
TEs: Aaron Hernandez (lined up in the backfield) Alge Crumpler
OL: Matt Light, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer

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Pats inactives: Pat Chung sits this one out

10.31.10 at 3:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In a mild surprise, safety Pat Chung will be inactive for today’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Chung suffered a bruised knee in last week’s win over the San Diego Chargers. Meanwhile, Deion Branch, who suffered a mild hamstring strain and will play for the Patriots.

The inactive for the Patriots are: Chung, Mark LeVoir, Kyle Love, Rich Ohrnberger, Jarrad Page, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater and Fred Taylor.

For the Vikings, cornerback Lito Sheppard will sit this one out. Their complete inactive list reads as follows:

QB Joe Webb (3rd QB), WR Hank Baskett, S Tyrell Johnson, CB Lito Sheppard, RB Albert Young, LB Erin Henderson, G Chris DeGeare and DT Jimmy Kennedy.

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Patriots Inactive Analysis: No Pat Chung will mean changes in the secondary

10.31.10 at 3:05 pm ET
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The Patriots listed the following players as inactive this week: wide receiver Taylor Price, wide receiver Matthew Slater, running back Fred Taylor, safety Pat Chung, safety Jarrad Page, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, offensive lineman Mark LeVoir and defensive lineman Kyle Love.

The biggest name that jumps out is Chung, who bruised a knee last week against the Chargers. He was able to go in practice late this week, but ultimately wasn’t deemed healthy enough to get the call. The fact that Chung and Page are sidelined means the Patriots will be forced to lean more on rookie Sergio Brown, who made his professional debut last week against the Chargers and played well. It could also affect the way New England defends the Vikings’ pass-catchers ‘€” as a result, the Patriots could turn more to linebacker Gary Guyton, the fastest linebacker on the team and considered one of the better linebackers on the team when it comes to pass coverage.

One of the names that is not on the list is wide receiver Deion Branch, who was hobbled late in the week with a hamstring injury, but appears to be good to go this week against the Vikings. Two other names conspicuous by their absence from the list of inactives are cornerback Terrence Wheatley and defensive lineman Ron Brace, two players who have struggled with injury and some subpar play over the first six weeks of the season.

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It’s official: Brett Favre starts for Vikings

10.31.10 at 2:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Minnesota Vikings announced shortly before 3 p.m. ET that there would be no changes to their starting offense, meaning Brett Favre will take the field and start at quarterback as they take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

The quarterback will extend his starting and games played streak to 292 games, the longest in NFL history.

Favre sustained two breaks in the area of his left ankle when he was tackled from behind in Sunday night’s 28-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

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Setting the windy scene from Gillette

10.31.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots will be looking for their fifth straight win today in windy conditions at Gillette Stadium in the return of Randy Moss as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

Of course, all eyes at the beginning of the game will be on the Minnesota sideline when the Vikings’ offense first takes the field. Will Brett Favre start and be under center and where will Moss lineup on offense in his first set of snaps against the Patriots defense since practice before the Miami Dolphins game on Oct. 4?

The word is Favre will attempt to play, extending his NFL-record games played streak to 292. Favre suffered two breaks in the area of his left ankle last Sunday night in a 28-24 loss at Green Bay. Favre wore a walking boot until taking the field for the first time in practice on Friday, where he was limited.

Deion Branch (hamstring) and Pat Chung (knee) are the two big question marks on the injury front. Both were limited on Friday in practice and both are considered questionable for today. Both are expected to be active and play but their injuries on the first truly brisk, chilly day of the season bear close watching.

Bother were lightly jogging and doing high leg raises with strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash along the Patriots sideline about an hour and a half before kickoff.

The wind figures to be a significant factor, with a breeze howling out of the north at 15-20 MPH, with gusts up to 30 MPH. Temperatures will start in the lower 50s and fall as the Patriots will play their first home game of the year under the lights by the time halftime rolls around.

The Patriots are playing their first home game on Halloween, having posted a ghoulish 2-5 road record in seven previous games on the scariest day of the year.

Other notes:

The Patriots are on an amazing regular season run at home. They are 3-0 this season. 8-0 last season and won their last home game in 2008. That adds up to a 12-game streak. Of course, that doesn’t include one somewhat important hiccup – the 33-14 loss to Baltimore last Jan. 10 in the first round of the playoffs.

Tom Brady hasn’t lost at home since Nov. 12, 2006 against the Jets, a run of 23 straight regular season wins, second only to – appropriately – Brett Favre, who won 25 straight for the Packers at Lambeau Field between 1995 and 1998.

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Five Final Thoughts on Patriots-Vikings

10.31.10 at 12:28 pm ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on Patriots-Vikings:

1. You’€™re fooling yourself if you think Brett Favre doesn’€™t start. And by the way, it was a savvy move by Favre telling ESPN that he feels like he’€™s ready to play. That way, it’€™s Brad Childress who takes the fall as The Guy Who Stopped The Streak. As I Tweeted earlier this week, the relationship between the coach and quarterback speaks to the raging dysfunction within the organization.

2. I’€™m kicking myself that I didn’€™t include this in the 10 things to look for, but it was initially Tweeted by Evan Silva of Pro Football Talk and then retweeted by our buddies at Pro Football Focus: ‘€œGood news Percy Harvin: Patriots vulnerable to slot receivers. Slot WRs have led the opposition in receiving against NE in 4 straight [games].’€

3. Fascinated to think about the reaction that both Favre and Randy Moss get both pre and postgame from the Gillette Stadium crowd. Gut feeling is that Favre gets booed and mocked heavily coming in and out the tunnel, while Moss hears loud cheers early and often. It’€™ll also be interesting to see what sort of reaction both draw coming off the field from players and coaches. In a region where postgame handshakes are analyzed like the Zapruder Film, the scene after the field and in the tunnel will likely be talked about for a few days.

4. The Patriots aren’€™t going to run a whole lot of Sunday, but they have to get more production out of the running game than they did last week. Doesn’€™t matter how many yards they get ‘€” that 4.0 yards per carry average is the magic number. If the crew of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Sammy Morris can hit that, it’€™ll be all good for New England.

5. Final thought: I think the Patriots win this thing, pulling away in the second half. Moss will catch a touchdown pass, but New England’€™s going to do a good job bottling up Adrian Peterson (which means holding him under 100 yards). It’€™s going to be close, but a late touchdown or turnover from the Vikings is the difference: Patriots 24, Vikings 17.

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