Using Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's own words, the 2-3 Patriots will face the 5-0 Vikings this Sunday.
You see, both the coach and the quarterback referenced Minnesota's undefeated preseason as well as the team's opening day win in St. Louis in breaking down what challenges Mike Zimmer's team brings to the field.
Preseason action aside, the reality is that Brady and his teammates are indeed very much focused on bouncing back from their first opening day loss since 2003. And life this week inside Gillette Stadium certainly won't be fun as the work takes place both in terms of preparing for the trip to Minnesota while correcting the many mistakes from the 33-20 loss last Sunday in Miami.
"We're a long ways from the team that we're going to be. We hate losing," Brady said in his weekly Wednesday morning press conference. "It's a terrible feeling. It's a terrible feeling around here. It's a quality of life issue that I think we all face when we lose. Hopefully it motivates us to go out there and have a great week of practice and prepare for this game. Go out there and try to beat a very good team."
One thing that Brady won't be doing is using his calf injury – one that forced him to miss practice last Thursday and had him listed as questionable on Friday's injury report leading up to the trip to Miami – as a factor in New England's offensive struggles or his own questionable accuracy against the Dolphins.
"I don't think so. I don't think there are any excuses for the way the outcome of the game was. Hopefully we're better this week," said Brady, who finds himself and his team in sole possession of last place in the AFC East for the first time in his 14-year career as a starter.
The reasons for the loss in many ways are both simple and complex. The team put itself in long-yardage situations in a second half in which it failed to move the ball or score points. The running game never got going and the passing game was very much disrupted by a Cameron Wake-led pass rush. All that saw a 20-10 halftime advantage wilt into to defeat in the oppressive Miami heat.
"We have to be able to sustain it for 60 minutes. We played a decent half of football. Then the second half we didn't play very well, the third quarter we played not well," Brady observed. "That led into a fourth quarter where we were kind of playing from behind. That's always tough to do in the NFL. We just have to sustain it for 60 minutes, be consistent over the course of the entire game. And all just do our job better for an entire game. That's what leads to victory. You can't play 30 minutes and have a great outcome, especially against a good team, on the road. You have to play well for 60 minutes. That's what we're going to work toward doing."
Things won't get a whole lot easier this week. Zimmer joins the Vikings after a successful run leading the Bengals defense. That's a Zimmer-schemed Cincinnati unit that held Brady and Co. to just 6 points and one of 12 on third down in a loss last October.
Minnesota brings a pressure defensive front that includes rising star Everson Griffen, who opened up the new season and his role replacing long time edge force Jared Allen by recording a pair of sacks in the win over the Rams.
"We know what we're up against," Brady said. "We have to go out and play a lot better than we did last week. I have a lot of confidence in our guys. I have a lot of confidence in what we're doing. Now we just have to go out and do it."
As competitive as any player in the league, and as distasteful as losing is to Brady, the Patriots quarterback certainly isn't planning on bringing an air of increased intensity to this work week in Foxborough. It may not be business as usual given the rare opening day loss and even rarer spot in last place, but it's also not time for emotion to overtake reason.
"I try to be pretty consistent with…hopefully my enthusiasm and excitement of being out there," Brady said. "Nobody likes to lose. But it happens. It's happened before. We just have to figure out how to make some improvements and go out there and do a lot better next week."
The only question is whether that's easier said than done.