BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots have a week before they find out who is coming to town for their divisional round playoff game on January 13, but they have plenty of other work to get done in the meantime.
For starters, they can focus on themselves.
First and foremost, the Patriots can use the time off to get healthy. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are dinged up, corner Aqib Talib is battling a hip injury, and most of the offensive line has some sort of injury they’ve been battling for either part of the season, or all 17 weeks.
So getting a week of rest is a welcome prize after the Patriots clinched the two-seed in the AFC with their 28-0 win over the Dolphins on Sunday.
But the Patriots have some self-scouting to do as well. They’ll roll back the tape on their recent games, with a pair of disappointing efforts against the 49ers and Jaguars sandwiched between stellar ones against the Houston Texans and Dolphins over the last month.
But in addition to ironing out their own wrinkles, the Patriots will also take a look at the three potential visitors to Gillette. Head coach Bill Belichick said in some way, shape or form, the Patriots will do both as they ready themselves for another playoff game in Foxboro.
“I think it will probably be a little bit of a combination of both things. Where the emphasis will fall is to be determined,” Belichick said on a conference call on Monday. “That’s something that we’ll talk about as a staff here today to kind of plan for tomorrow and then on Wednesday when the players come back in. I think heading into this weekend, one scenario was that today we would be getting ready for a game this coming Sunday, so we were prepared to do that if that’s what it was. That’s not the case now, so we’ll kind of reevaluate where we are and what we feel like would be the most productive things for our team: practice, meetings, or other things we can do, the way we break things up and look at them and so forth. We’ll try to find the ones that we feel like could have the biggest impact or are the most important, or the ones that we can actually have an ability to change at this point and work on them.”
All three of the teams that will invade Gillette in two weeks — the Texans, Colts or Ravens — have already faced off against the Patriots once this season. While the Patriots are familiar with each of those three, they’ll still be doing their work to catch up on what they’ve done more recently — especially the Ravens who they lost to in Week 3.
“There’s certainly a lot more information on Baltimore since we played them than there is on, say, Houston since we played them. And Indianapolis would fall somewhere in the middle,” said Belichick. “We have people in our organization who are always kind of the advance people, whether it’s scouts or coaches that are moving ahead. The coaching staff is always focused on the current opponent or the current situation. Even in training camp, it’s the same thing where we’re working on things in training camp, but we still have people who are advancing our early season opponents and so forth. It’s still kind of the same thing.”
“At some point they will come into play for the coaching staff and the players, but at some point it will also just be a preparation until we know who we actually are going to be matched up with next week,” Belichick continued. “So it’s little bit of both there, but definitely Baltimore, of the three teams that we could play next, is the one that we – there’s a lot more information since the time we played them and that definitely needs to be analyzed.”
The Patriots players were in meetings on Monday, and will be off Tuesday for New Years. They’ll be back to work on Wednesday, with practices schedule for both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, but get Wild Card weekend off.