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In a matchup that might have seemed like a potential Super Bowl preview at the beginning of the season, the visiting Patriots look for a third consecutive victory Sunday against an Eagles' team trying to knock off its second straight division leader.
After dropping consecutive games to Pittsburgh and the New York Giants , New England (7-3) rebounded by blowing out the Jets and Kansas City by a combined 71-19 score. That two-game run has helped the Patriots build a two-game division lead over the Jets and Buffalo.
Though its lead might seem safe considering New England's final six games are against teams without a winning record, quarterback Tom Brady is far from satisfied.
"We're 7-3. I don't think we're really where we hoped to be at this point," said Brady, who has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions over the last two games.
Philadelphia (4-6), meanwhile, would be thrilled sitting where the Patriots find themselves. Though the underachieving Eagles' immediate goal should be to reach .500, their 17-10 road upset of the New York Giants last Sunday left them two games behind the NFC East-leading Giants and Dallas.
"You see the excitement and the smiles on the guys and that's what we need, what we have to have," said Eagles quarterback Vince Young , who could make his second straight start in place of the injured Michael Vick .
This will be the first meeting since 2007 between the perennial powers who seemed like potential Super Bowl foes when the season started. New England has won the last three meetings, including 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Brady has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 871 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions while going 3-0 versus Philadelphia. He threw for 380 and a score in New England's 31-28 win over the Eagles in 2007.
Brady was an efficient 15 of 27 for 234 yards with TD passes of 52 and 19 yards to Rob Gronkowski in Monday's 34-3 win over the Chiefs. The Patriots totaled 380 yards, including 157 on the ground, but Brady still believes his team can be more potent out of the gate after trailing Kansas City 3-0 in the first quarter.
"We're going to need to play better than we did offensively (Monday) if we want to start making serious improvements down the stretch," Brady said.
Gronkowski continues to play at a high level with 20 receptions for 310 yards and five TDs over the last three games. His 20 touchdowns in 26 career games are the most ever by a tight end in his first two NFL seasons.
Defensively, the Patriots also have made strides in recent weeks.
New England gives up a league-high 404.2 yards per game, but has yielded an average 357.7 over the last three contests. The 334 yards the Patriots allowed to the Chiefs was their second-best defensive effort of the season.
"We have the possibility of being a pretty good defense as long as we play well and get better each week," tackle Vince Wilfork said. "(We) can't get complacent. That's one thing we can't do."
The Patriots are prepared to face Young on Sunday, but would not be surprised if Vick got the call if his two broken ribs have healed sufficiently.
"Both guys have been productive and they have a lot of weapons to utilize," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "They do a good job of getting them the ball."
In his first start for the Eagles, Young was 23 of 36 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions against the Giants. Young was 15 of 36 for 227 yards with two interceptions and ran for a score in his only previous start versus New England, a 40-23 loss while with Tennessee in 2006.
LeSean McCoy , who ran for 113 yards on 23 carries against the Giants, leads the NFL with 1,019 rushing yards. However, he has never ran for more than 95 yards in nine career games against AFC opponents.
Philadelphia's last win over New England came Dec. 19, 1999, 24-9 at home.