2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Proud Patriots focus on themselves during bye

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-02 18:39

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots don't know yet who they'll face in their playoff opener.

But they do have firsthand knowledge about all three potential opponents.

The Patriots, after all, have already played every one of them. They routed the Indianapolis Colts 59-24 and the Houston Texans 42-14 and lost to the Baltimore Ravens 31-30 on a last-play field goal.

So until the he finds out, coach Bill Belichick is playing it safe. The Patriots will focus on themselves, first and foremost. And as for the opponents? Well ...

``We'll work on everybody,'' the coach said Wednesday.

New England (12-4) will be home for the divisional round on Jan. 13 against the Texans if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Saturday's AFC wild-card game. If Houston loses, New England will host the winner of Sunday's game between Baltimore and Indianapolis.

``After the Houston game, we'll either be full-speed ahead on Houston,'' Belichick said, ``or we'll put that in the drawer and wait and see what happens in the next game.''

Either way, New England will be an interested viewer from afar this weekend. And none of the options will be easy, so any extended look the Patriots can get could prove valuable.

Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones doesn't know if he'll be trying to sack Houston's Matt Schaub, Baltimore's Joe Flacco or Indianapolis' Andrew Luck. So, like his teammates, he'll watch film and concentrate on self-improvement this week. He'll also review his own handwritten notes from previous games.

``I have a big stack of notes, actually, that I keep,'' Jones said, ``So it's good to have those things to look at certain tendencies. I can't really talk so much about the Colts because I didn't really play. I was injured (in the first quarter), but, definitely, you can go back through those notes.''

All three possible foes have changed since facing the Patriots. The Ravens, in fact, have had alterations on the coaching staff and lost four of their last five games.

``There's a lot more information since the time we played them,'' Belichick said. ``That definitely needs to be analyzed.''

The Patriots were leading 30-20 before Flacco threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with 4:01 left. Justin Tucker's 27-yard kick won the game two plays after a 27-yard pass interference penalty against Devin McCourty gave Baltimore the ball at the New England 7-yard line.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 1-2, their first sub-.500 record since they lost the 2003 opener. But by the time the Colts visited on Nov. 18, the Patriots were 6-3 and on a roll.

New England quarterback Tom Brady outplayed Luck and the Patriots received a huge boost from the defense and special teams. Aqib Talib, in his first game since being traded from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and rookie Alfonzo Dennard returned interceptions for touchdowns. And Julian Edelman brought back a punt for another.

``As a defensive back, we have short-term memories,'' Talib said, ``so I don't remember too much about the game. I'm kind of worried about getting ready this week.''

The Patriots' win streak had reached six games when the Texans came to town with the NFL's best record and second most points.

They left with a beating.

Brady threw four touchdown passes, all before six minutes were gone in the third quarter and the home team cruised to victory.

``We can't predict the score but we know we can dominate games,'' McCourty, who had a first-quarter interception, said after the game.

The Patriots did lose to the San Francisco 49ers the next week 41-34, then struggled to beat the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16. But they rebounded with their first shutout since Oct. 18, 2009, a 28-0 romp over the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale last Sunday.

New England also had a bye after its eighth game, a 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams in London. Afterward, the Patriots won five straight games, starting with a 37-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

But this break is much different.

``After the St. Louis game, we knew we were playing Buffalo so there was a certain element of preparation that we could start on with them, even the next couple games after that,'' Belichick said. ``Now it's just a one-game season. We don't know who our opponent is. We're doing things that we think will help our football team.''

Like giving them three days off after Thursday's practice.

Sort of.

``You can't take a week off,'' guard Donald Thomas said. ``You have to just keep working, keep preparing, just try to get better each day and put the work in. So, next week, when we know who we're playing, we can really focus on them.''

Some players will be glued to their televisions for the wild-card games.

``I'll watch every game this weekend closely,'' safety Steve Gregory said.

Others won't ... or so they say.

``I'll be hunting,'' said running back Stevan Ridley, a native of Mississippi. ``I'm going down South.''

All of them will be back by Monday, though, when the identity of their opponent is no longer a mystery.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Nate WashingtonOct 23 09:41a

The Tennessee Titans have been fielding calls from teams for WR Nate Washington, who recently lost his starting job to WR Justin Hunter. Washington is in the final year [ More ]

Derek MoyeOct 23 02:33a

The St. Louis Rams auditioned free-agent WR Skye Dawson (Buccaneers) and WR Derek Moye on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Moye was eventually claimed by the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Larry DonnellOct 23 01:03a

New York Giants TE Larry Donnell is just scratching the surface, according to tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride. Some of his mistakes, including fumbles and blocking deficiencies, are [ More ]

Geoff SchwartzOct 23 01:03a

New York Giants OG Geoff Schwartz (toe) is destined to return to practice next week, but he still has a ways to go before he is ready for a [ More ]

Eli ManningOct 23 01:03a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning has completed 65 percent of his passes, which would be a career high. He also has 14 touchdown passes to just five interceptions, [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Oct 23 01:03a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. might be moved around over the final nine games, according to receivers coach Sean Ryan. He said Wednesday, Oct. 22, that he [ More ]

Rueben RandleOct 23 01:03a

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle could be used in the slot over the final nine games, as the team works to replace WR Victor Cruz (knee). 'The other [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 23 12:53a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) said Wednesday, Oct. 22, that he expects to play in the Week 8 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was injured in the [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 22 11:43p

Updating a previous report, there is no chance Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) plays in the Week 8 game against the Dallas Cowboys Monday, Oct. 27, multiple sources said Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Zach MettenbergerOct 22 11:03p

The Tennessee Titans plan to start QB Zach Mettenberger in Week 8 against the Houston Texans, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday, Oct. 22. Indications are Mettenberger [ More ]

Jake LockerOct 22 10:53p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (thumb) is in the final year of his contract after the team declined to pick up a fifth-year option. He is reportedly making progress [ More ]

LaMarr WoodleyOct 22 10:53p

Oakland Raiders DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps) suffered a torn biceps in the Week 7 game against the Arizona Cardinals, a source said Wednesday, Oct. 22. It is believed his season is over.

Brian CushingOct 22 10:03p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) will miss at least a week due to his knee injury. The ailment has been bothering him for the past two games.

Justin TuckOct 22 09:43p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. [ More ]

Bobby WagnerOct 22 08:03p

Seattle Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor (ankle), DT Jordan Hill (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), C Max Unger (foot) and LB Bobby Wagner (toe) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. [ More ]

Zach MillerOct 22 08:03p

Seattle Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot) and TE Zach Miller (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22, and they have been ruled out for Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers.

Frostee RuckerOct 22 06:53p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. S Rashad Johnson (knee) was limited, while DE Frostee Rucker (calf) practiced in full.

Johnathan JosephOct 22 06:53p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), CB Darryl Morris (ankle), LB Brooks Reed (groin), LB John Simon (ankle) and LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 22 06:33p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) did [ More ]

Tre MasonOct 22 06:32p

St. Louis Rams RB Tre Mason could be the top candidate for a majority of carries since he is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Mason rushed for 85 yards [ More ]

Dion SimsOct 22 05:53p

Miami Dolphins T Branden Albert (elbow), CB Cortland Finnegan (neck), WR Brandon Gibson (knee), CB Brent Grimes (groin), C Samson Satele (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck) and S Jimmy [ More ]

Jo-Lonn DunbarOct 22 05:43p

St. Louis Rams C Tim Barnes (shoulder), DE William Hayes (illness), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), S T.J. McDonald (concussion) and OT Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. [ More ]

Scott SolomonOct 22 05:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Jonathan Krause, Seattle Seahawks TE Rashaun Allen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Solomon Patton and DE Scott Solomon cleared waivers and became free agents Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Billy WinnOct 22 05:33p

Cleveland Browns DE Desmond Bryant (wrist) and LB Barkeveous Mingo both fully participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. DE Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) and CB K'Waun Williams (concussion) were both [ More ]

Lance BriggsOct 22 05:23p

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (hand, hip) and SS Danny McCray (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. LB Jonathan Bostic (back) and LB Lance Briggs (ribs) [ More ]

Sharrif FloydOct 22 05:13p

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (hernia), LB Gerald Hodges (hamstring) and C John Sullivan (concussion) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. DE Corey Wootton (back), DT Sharrif Floyd (ankle), [ More ]

Dashon GoldsonOct 22 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), OT Anthony Collins (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle) and S Keith Tandy (hamstring) were limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. C Johnthan Banks (neck) practiced in full.

Brandon BrownerOct 22 05:13p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Brandon Browner (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), OG Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique [ More ]

Josh McCownOct 22 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh McCown (thumb) was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Brett KeiselOct 22 05:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion), DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), FS Mike Mitchell (non-injury) and SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamOct 22 04:53p

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Jonathan GoodwinOct 22 04:53p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle, knee) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22. CB Keenan Lewis (knee, shoulder), LB Ramon Humber [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group