The New England Patriots are ready. Again.
I realize it sounds like a broken record and that it has a ring of “homerism” to it, but it’s the truth.
We have seen this many times before, beginning with the Patriots’ first Super Bowl march in 2001. You’ll recall, they moved up the seeding the final weeks of the season, when a Wild Card game appeared to be a done deal.
The bye week is theirs because the Patriots did their job and won a game or two they were supposed to have won. They whipped Miami, 28-0.
Compare that to other teams who couldn’t finish the job (see Houston Texans, who fell from No. 1 to No. 3 seed in two weeks).
Compare them to last year’s Super Bowl champion, the New York Giants. They returned every key player from a year ago — in fact they added an overachieving running back and wide receiver — yet they couldn’t handle being the defending champion, getting trounced by Atlanta (34-0) and Baltimore (33-14) in the pressure-packed Weeks 15 and 16.
The Patriots’ consistency since Bill Belichick took over in 2000 borders on amazing. Sunday night they clinched their seventh bye in the last 12 seasons.
In their five Super Bowl appearances under Belichick, all of them were on the backs of a “bye” week.
After the game, Belichick evaded a question about the importance of a bye, saying only “I don’t know.”
Of course, it is only seven extra days of rest, but it is also seven extra days of preparation.
While the Patriots don’t know who their opponent will be in two weeks (it would be Houston if the Texans beat Cincinnati), Belichick has already mandated assistants to break down the tendencies for Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore.
He knows there’s a good chance the homework for two of those teams will be tossed in the trash.