Bill Belichick offers insight into Patriots' playoff bye week preparation


The New England Patriots secured a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs Sunday by beating the New York Jets, and now the AFC East champions must wait two weeks before beginning their postseason journey in the Divisional Round on Jan. 13.

The extra week is valuable to the Patriots because it gives players more time to rest and recover after a grueling regular season. The bye week does have its challenges, too, most notably the fact the Patriots have no idea which team they'll play in their first playoff game. This scenario makes it tough to game plan until after the weekend's wild card matchups.

So, how do the Patriots prepare for their next opponent during the playoff bye? Patriots head coach Bill Belichick provided some insight into that during a conference call with reporters Monday.

"Every year when you’re in this position, there are three teams you could potentially play and one team that you wouldn’t play the first week, and then you could potentially play any of the five teams the second week," Belichick said. "Some of that clears itself up. It’s an unusual situation because the rest of the year you always know who your next game is against, whether you have the bye week or you have an opponent the following week or you’re in preseason or whatever it is. You’ll always know who the next team is that you’re playing, and you can set a certain preparation schedule for that opponent regardless of who the opponent is or how long or short the week is that leads up to that game.

"Here, it’s multiple teams. You have to be prepared for those options, but at the same time you don’t want to create chaos. I don’t think you want to create a confusing situation where you’re trying to do so much that you don’t get anything done, so you have to try to, I’d say at this point, figure out what’s the most productive thing you can do for your team. And that might not be the same for every player. It might not be the same for each unit. You might have to find a way to balance some things, but in the end, you’re trying to do the most productive thing you can with the time that you have available. That might include not doing anything. It might include resting. It might include film work, practice, fundamentals, scheme plays, situations and so forth. And it all would probably be helpful. You just have to decide which ones you think would do the most good and structure it that way. Once you know who you’re playing, then it’s full steam ahead on that opponent. Fundamentally, it’s about the same every year but it’s different every year because of the circumstances."

The Patriots' most likely Divisional Round opponent is the Houston Texans, who secured the No. 3 seed and host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Houston already came to Gillette Stadium in 2018 when it lost in the season opener, thus giving New England the tiebreaker edge when these teams ended the regular season with identical 11-5 records. 

The Pats also are 10-1 (including 2-0 in the playoffs) all-time against the Texans since Houston entered the league in 2002.

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