OATES ON FOOTBALL Patriots Over Bears NFL Playoffs: Brady Over Bears in Super Bowl XL . . . Eagles Lost Out on Opening Night . . .Steelers Ride Momentum into Cincinnati . . . Eli Clutch QB . . . Portis vs. Rookie in Tampa. By Bob Oates, Latimes.com As the pro league's winter tournament begins, the Chicago Bears are playing the NFC's best football. In the AFC, the New England Patriots have regained their championship form and momentum. And Tom Brady, who since the day after last year's Super Bowl has figured to win this year's, will lead the Patriots past the Bears in Detroit Feb. 5. Rex Grossman, injured and out since early in the season, is the quarterback who has transformed the Bears into an assertive passing-team winner since he came back. The Patriots, also back from injury, still have their Super Bowl core. Coach Bill Belichick keeps the game close, quarterback Brady leads the last decisive drive, and special-team specialist Adam Vinatieri kicks for the win. THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who know how to get to the Super Bowl and win it as a wild-card team facing a four-game playoff season, will begin that journey again in a Saturday night game played in a probable New England freeze or worse. They say they like the idea of bad weather, particularly against a Southern team, and maybe they do, but they can have it. At the moment, the Patriots appear to have come all the way back from the injury burden that all but ruined them earlier in the season --- except for two players, safety Rodney Harrison, their best defensive man, who is out for the year, and famous linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who could be on the field for a while at least. New England Coach Belichick and his assistants are, however, particularly skillful in the science of replacing their wounded --- even the most talented of their wounded --- given a few weeks to work them in. A reason they can do it is that, long ago, they chose all of their possible replacements with care and then kept them around learning the Patriot system So as the playoffs start, the Patriots are, once more, a perfectly balanced team that earns top grades passing, running and kicking the ball and playing defense. And they're led by the best player in the league, quarterback Brady, a two-time Super Bowl MVP. Jacksonville under Coach Jack Del Rio is a stout defensive team with a gifted running back, Fred Taylor, and two quarterbacks, including runner-passer David Garrard. But the Jaguar offense is seldom good for more than two touchdowns in one game, and that might not be enough on a New England winter night.