By the grace and the glory, the New England Patriots have a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs this year. As the Wild Card teams beat up on each other this weekend, the Patriots will be sitting back to watch the carnage in preparation of another potentially championship-caliber postseason run.
New England Patriots Bye Week Breakdown
Put the Beats to Work, Tom
By now, everyone and their mothers have read the controversial ESPN article claiming that the holy trinity of Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft, and Tom Brady are eating each other alive over legacy. The timing of this article has its pros and cons. On one hand, the Patriots don’t need any distractions this postseason. Play has been inconsistent on both sides of the ball all season, and a host of injuries have made that inconsistency a national headline. This article has the potential to eat away at the foundation keeping the Patriots towering above the AFC like the Prudential.
On the other hand, the Patriots won’t have to go play this week in front of a crowd scared for its team’s leadership. The team gets a whole week for the fanbase to return to the frothing state it has been in all season. This article also has the potential to bring the team closer together than it has been in years. Belichick, Kraft, and Brady released a statement this week assuring everyone that the article was an inflammatory piece and that New England’s own Killer Bs are unified in their pursuit of excellence.
Joint statement from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady: pic.twitter.com/i555gWZIi6
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 5, 2018
Unity is going to be crucial this postseason for both the team and the coaching staff. Belichick is one of the best in the business in deflecting attempts to get under the Patriots skin and throw things off balance. For the rest of the team, maybe it’s time for Tom to call in a favor from his sponsors and outfit the whole squad with some headphones.
Don’t Dial in on an Opponent
The Patriots rarely get caught up preparing for the wrong team. Everyone has seen it happen. A top seed spends their bye week focused on the game film for the expected Wild Card Round winner. The Divisional Round rolls around and the top seed is woefully unprepared because of an upset the week before.
There is not a single team in the AFC race this postseason that is better than the Patriots. Not one. But there are teams in the AFC race that can beat the Patriots if the boys in blue don’t show up prepared. (See: Kansas City Chiefs, Week One)
There are plenty of things for the Patriots to work on this week. New England ranked in the bottom five for yards allowed by a defense this season. Yardage is a huge issue for New England. Now, yes, the Patriots had a top five scoring defense. They have an insane ability to keep opponents out of the end zone. But let’s not forget that the Pittsburgh Steelers won a playoff game last year without finding the end zone a single time. The yards-allowed should be public enemy number one in Foxboro this week.
No Days Off
The “No Days Off” mantra is one that embodies the legacy that Belichick has built in New England. It feels cheap to end this article without mentioning the fact that the Patriots practiced in the snow this week. The dedication of the team to bring home another title to the best sports region in the country is unwavering in spite of everything that has transpired this season.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 4, 2018
Take it easy this weekend, Patriots Nation. The Blitz for Six is almost here.