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After the win, on to Chicago

Monday night was big for the Patriots. But they’re done celebrating now. There’s no parade yet — just a nonstop flight to the Windy City to face the 9-3 Bears.

Monday night was big for the Patriots.

But they’re done celebrating now. There’s no parade yet — just a nonstop flight to the Windy City to face the 9-3 Bears.

If it feels like one big game after another for the Pats, that’s because it is. After playing the Jets for the 103rd time in franchise history (now 52-51-1), they meet the Bears for just the 11th time in regular-season play (7-3) and the first time in Chicago since Soldier Field was remodeled back in 2003.

So it’s going to be tough for New England to know if the Bears are going to be who they thought they were.

“You get the schedule and you see you’re going to be playing Chicago on a short week. … So you try to do your offseason preparations on them and get a feel with what they were like the year before,” coach Bill Belichick said.

With a third-ranked defense, anchored by defensive end Julius Peppers — a guy the Pats made a run at over the offseason — the Bears are not to be taken lightly.

“I don’t think we sit here and think, ‘Wow, we got it all figured out,’” Pats quarterback Tom Brady said. “We certainly don’t. It’s a whole different opponent, very different challenges, a team we haven’t played in a while, a team we’re not very familiar with that has very good players.”

The Bears aren’t taking Brady lightly, either.

“He’s playing great football right now,”?Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. “But he’s been playing great football for so long now.”

One thing the Patriots are prepared for, especially after Monday night’s game, is cold weather.

“It’s the middle of December and we’re in Chicago,” Belichick said. “I don’t think anyone is thinking of suntan lotion.”

Playoff clinch on horizon

The Patriots are one of four teams that can clinch a playoff berth this weekend.

New England is in with a win or a tie. The Jets, Steelers and Falcons all need help to sew up their postseason spots.

 
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