FOXBOROUGH – On Jan. 13, the Patriots will kick off the postseason against a yet-to-be determined opponent. That they aren’t aware of their competition is not diminishing their anticipation.
“It’s a playoff game. That’s what we’re here for. You play the whole regular season to get into the playoffs,” Bill Belichick said today at Gillette Stadium. “I would hope we’re excited and more amped up to play. It’s a higher level of competition. Not that the regular season isn’t. But the playoffs are the highest. There’s no question about that.”
The team will practice today and tomorrow. The players have been given Friday through Sunday off.
The coaching staff will prepare for the three possible opponents: Houston, Indianapolis, and Baltimore.
“Now it’s a one-game season,” Belichick said. “We don’t know who our opponent is. We’re doing things we think will help our football team once we know who the opponent is. Then we’ll zero in on that opponent and do everything we can to try and get our highest level of performance against them next Sunday.”
If Houston beats Cincinnati on Saturday, the Patriots would host the Texans. If Houston loses, the Patriots would have to wait to determine whether Indianapolis or Baltimore would travel to Foxborough.
“We’ll work on everybody,” Belichick said. “After the Houston game, we’ll either be full speed ahead on Houston or we’ll put that in the drawer and wait to see what happens in the next game. We have to be prepared for all three of them.”
* Belichick acknowledged equipment manager Don Brocher, who died on Tuesday because of complications from leukemia. Brocher was in his 41st season of employment in the organization. “Don was here for the San Francisco game. I don’t think anybody really had a sense of the physical and mental toughness he displayed that night just by being here, doing his job, and being here for us in that type of situation,” Belichick said. “But that was kind of Donny. Never one to complain, never one to talk about how he was doing. He was just there to help the rest of us. We’ll miss him.”
* Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis has announced he will retire after this season. Belichick recalled he met Lewis in 1996 when the linebacker was at the University of Miami. “Tremendous player,” Belichick said. “Tremendous career.”