FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After players had the past two days off, the New England Patriots return to work Wednesday for their first of two scheduled practices during their playoff bye week. The team has had a first-round playoff bye each of the past eight seasons and this year will follow a similar course.
"It's hard to get ready for one team in this league in a week, let alone get ready for three," coach Bill Belichick explained. "I think this week's a little bit more about us, about doing the things that we can do better, about each individual player and coach trying to look for areas of improvement for himself or his group or what he does. Hopefully, be able to apply that in some way to whoever our next opponent is.
"There are a lot of things that if we do better it doesn't really matter who the opponent is. There are just things that we need to understand better, or execute better, or just practice and get a better timing and maybe relationship, or things like that, on those plays that would help us no matter who we play. I think those are some of the things that we'll spend a little more time on this week."
The Patriots are scheduled to be on the practice field at 12:15 p.m. ET, once again inside Gillette Stadium. The team is also planning to practice Thursday, although a pending snowstorm could complicate things.
"It's mostly about us," quarterback Tom Brady echoed Wednesday during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI's "Kirk and Callahan Show."
"All those things, who we're preparing for, there are a lot of scenarios," Brady continued. "It's just more focusing on what we need to do better. You evaluate how things have gone over the course of the year -- now it's obviously a big sample size, the things we've been good at, the things we maybe haven't been so good at. Now, really, it's game to game. You have basically 70 plays left in the season, and if you do those well, you earn the right for another 70 probably. So whatever we do, it has to be our very best, or there is no guarantee beyond that."
Asked about the three potential opponents, Brady said, "Whoever it is will have won a playoff game, so they'll be confident. All the teams that are in the playoffs are the teams that have played the best over the course of 16 weeks. It will be a good team whoever it is -- Buffalo, Tennessee or Kansas City. They'll fight it out. It's good for us to be sitting here, to already advance to the second round. I don't think we get caught up too much in who it is. It's more how we play. It's not where we play, who we play, it's how we play. If we take care of the ball, if we convert on third down, if we score in the red area, if we stop the run -- all the things we talk about on a weekly basis -- I feel like we'll be in good shape."