'01 Windstar Drivetrain Growl

Some of you may remember the old rear wheel drive growl in the differential when the vehicle was getting pretty well worn out. I got this same sound in
my '01 Windstar with 70,000 miles on it. The first thing I did was to jack up the front end and put it in gear to be sure it wasn't the tires creating road noise as they are getting close to replacement, anyway the noise was there at 50mph. I let one side down and rotated one wheel back and forth to see how much play there was in the ring and pinion if that's what they still call it and there was a little but not sure if this would be the cause of the growl. I noticed two locations for bearings between the differential and wheel and wondered if these could be the source of the growl. Has anyone ever had this problem at all. I know on the old '98 Windstar I had with 120,000 miles on it I never had any problem. I'd like some input on this to try and isolate the source of the growl before I have some mechanic decide I needed to have the whole drivetrain overhauled and the bearings replaced, you know how that goes if you get the wrong mechanic. Thanks!
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