Weather not likely to help cool off the Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Nobody in the NFL has been able to stop the New England Patriots this season.

Could the cold weather slow down them down?

The unbeaten Patriots play four of their last six games at home -- six of nine, if they keep winning -- and never venture any closer to the warm weather than Baltimore. Wind and snow might slow down their record-setting passing game, but then opponents will have to stop the Patriots' running game.

"When it comes time to run the ball, we're going to be prepared," said running back Laurence Maroney, who hoped that it would be more like Thursday's 60-degree temperatures than Friday, when it was back in the 30s. "Me and the snow don't really go together."

New England (10-0) plays the Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) on Sunday night in Foxborough, with forecasts calling for temperatures to dip below freezing overnight. That won't be shocking to a team from Philadelphia, but it's not going to be much help, either.

The Patriots are 21-3 when the kickoff temperature is 34 degrees or colder, and one of those games was a playoff tuneup they didn't try their hardest to win. Since 2001, the Patriots are 40-8 following Thanksgiving.

"Whatever we have to do," running back Kevin Faulk said Friday. "If you've got to throw the ball underhand, then that's what we're going to do."

That's just about the only way the Patriots haven't scored this season.

They've run up 411 points in their first 10 games, winning all but one of them by at least 17 points. Tom Brady has thrown 38 touchdown passes, 16 of them to Randy Moss; New England has 10 touchdowns rushing, two of them by Brady.

But that balance might change if the passing becomes treacherous.

"I think that as the weather gets worse, we're going to have to see," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "If we get into some conditions that don't enable us to throw the ball as much, then the running game will have to become more of a focal point. ... Unless there's some significant wind issues or other precipitation that determines we can't do it, we'll try to keep our balance the way that we have through the first 10 games."

Overall, the Patriots have thrown the ball 346 times and run it 316 times. McDaniels said that ratio is largely determined by what other teams try to take away.

"If they determine that they want to force us to throw the ball more than run it, or vice versa, then we're certainly willing to do either," he said. "Our balance is something that we try to really keep an eye on, but I think it, more importantly, is what's going to help us win."

Coach Bill Belichick said one-dimensional teams can win, but not for long. The matchup might work against some teams, and everything will look great.

"But then sooner or later you're going to run into somebody that can handle that one dimension that you have, and then what do you fall back on?" Belichick said. "I think the big thing is to try to be balanced. I think you need that in every game all through the year: warm weather, cold weather, rain, sun, fog."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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