BOSTON (CBS) – It’s been a fairly quiet week in the trash talk department as the Patriots and Jets get set to face off Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
And not that we’d expect him to, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t going to add to any of it Friday morning.
When asked if he hated the division rival, Belichick had very little to say.
“We have a competition each week against whoever the next team on our schedule is. So whoever that is, that’s who we compete against. It’s nothing personal; it’s just competition,” said Belichick.
Aside from Jets linebacker Calvin Pace calling the Patriots offense “borderline illegal,” not much has been said by either side this week. The tamed down talk is surprising, with both teams sitting at 3-3 along with the rest of the AFC East, but Patriots receiver Wes Welker is chalking it up to a mutual respect both clubs have for each other.
“Both teams have had success in this division. It’s a New York-Boston type rivalry, but I think everyone has a good mutual respect for each other, and wants to come out and play a good game,” said Welker.
Maybe the Patriots being 10.5 point favorites has something to do with it as well.
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Even Jets head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t said much that would make its way to a bulletin board. His quote from Monday, saying he wanted the Patriots to know the Jets think they will win this weekend, has been blown out of proportion and is far from trash talk. He did say on Thursday the Patriots will get New York’s best shot, but again, not really trash talk coming from Ryan.
Ryan has spent most of his time praising Belichick this week, but that’s not a surprise to any of the Patriots.
“He’s a good coach to fawn over,” guard Logan Mankins joked.
With all the praise coming from New York, the Patriots head coach returned the favor on Friday.
“I have a lot of respect for Rex. I think we have a good relationship,” said Belichick. “I see him from time to time at the owners meetings and Indy combine and stuff like that. But, I know on Sunday he’ll be doing the best job he can for his team. I’ll be doing the best job I can for my team. We’ll see what happens. But, I think there is good mutual respect there. We had his brother (Rob) on our staff here. I’ve known his dad (Buddy) for a long time. It’s just competition.”
Even with a four-team scrum atop the AFC East, Belichick isn’t looking at the standings yet. At least that’s what he’s telling the media.
“Just trying to go out and win a game,” he said on Friday. “We can’t do anything about the standings. All we can do this week is go out and try to beat the Jets. That’s all we’re worried about. ”
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But while their head coach is downplaying the tight “race” in the AFC East just six weeks into the season, his players are focusing on a big divisional game that could have something to do with who plays in January.
“It’s a huge game this week. One that we need to have and go out and play well and finish,” said Welker.
“All these games throughout the season are big. Around here we’re always trying to take care of your division,” said corner Devin McCourty. “With the race so close and everything even this year, it will be big for us to come out and play well.”
“We’re both 3-3, playing for first in the division. I don’t know what more you want to be at stake than that,” said Mankins. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Tune in to Patriots-Jets on Sunday at 4:25pm on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Coverage begins at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay on WBZ-TV, with Patriots Preview beginning at 1pm on 98.5. Following the game, stayed tuned for three hours of post game coverage on The Sports Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter over on MyTV38!