If anyone knows the New York Jets inside and out, it's Darrelle Revis. The Patriots cornerback began his career with them and their head coach, Rex Ryan, who are struggling this season to the tune of just three wins.
"I'm really not trying to pay attention to that. I'm really not," Revis emphasized during a conference call with New York media. "Me and Rex have a lot of history and we all know that. Some of those guys are dear to my heart and everything, but I've got to focus on the things that I am doing here and I wish Rex the best. It's kind of sad for the position that Rex is in right now, but at the same time [the record is] something that they've got to change."
Revis maintained he wouldn't be treating this game any differently than any other on New England's schedule, but some of his Patriots teammates concede that Jets Week is normally a little more intense than others.
Check out photos from access to players and coaches during Week 16 as the Patriots prepare to play the New York Jets in New York this Sunday.
This week should be no exception, despite New York's abysmal record. The Patriots need to continue to win if they want to secure not just a first-round playoff bye, but also home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
So, which is more of a motivating factor in this game: the push for a playoff bye, or the fact that it's simply an AFC East rival?
"The fact that it's the Jets," stated co-captain Matthew Slater. "You don't have any problems getting up for these guys. It's a division game and records really don't matter. These guys know us well, and over the years, they've got a good grasp on how to play us. You've seen the dogfights we've been in with these guys. Four of the last five games have come down to the last play. We expect no different this week."
New York came very close to beating New England here in Foxborough back in Week 7 were it not for Chris Jones blocking a Jets field goal on the game's final play.
"Gonna be another tough game for us," predicted DE Rob Ninkovich. "They always play us tough. They have a good offensive line, very physical. Their running backs run really hard. Definitely going to be a challenge for us – a hard-fought football game.
"Since I've been here in 2009, I know the day after I play those guys, I'm sore. You have to prepare well during the week… just take it one game at a time. Don't look behind, don't look forward, we look at the team we're playing."
"It's going to come down to a great week of practice and ultimately who plays better on Sunday," CB Kyle Arrington proclaimed.
While on paper, this may look like a relatively easy game, the Patriots aren't buying into that way of thinking. Arrington insists the final two games of the regular season could be just as difficult as the six-game stretch of division-leading opponents New England recently faced.
"Everybody likes to talk about that gauntlet we kind of went through a few games back, and now, this might be even tougher stretch: three division games left. You always throw out records, throw out everything, because they're always tough. It's going to be a tough stretch. Obviously, we know there's a lot on the line. Everyone knows what we're playing for. We're going to give it our all."
Ham-ming it up
Arrington left the Miami game this past Sunday just before halftime with a right hamstring injury and was unable to return. That was unusual for the normally durable cornerback.
"It's a little frustrating…I'd say so. I always want to be out there with the guys," said Arrington.
So, what's the prognosis for this week?
"That's a question for Bill and the trainers. I guess I feel as good as you look," he quipped, adding quickly, "You look sharp, by the way!"
A day of milestones
During the Miami game, kicker Stephen Gostkowski became New England's all-time leading scorer, with 1,165 points and counting.
"You can't say enough good things about Stephen," said Slater, the special teams co-captain. "He's the ultimate professional. He really dedicates himself to being the best he can be. He's a great teammate. You're starting to see how good he is. A lot of times, we're not talking about Stephen. That's because he's making all his kicks and kicking a lot of touchbacks. You usually only talk about kickers when they're missing kicks. That's why we never talk about Stephen. He's so consistent, so dependable. I don't think there are many guys on this team that are more dependable than Stephen."
Also against the Dolphins, Ninkovich became the first Patriot since Andre Tippett – now a Hall of Famer in both Foxborough and Canton, Ohio – to record at least eight sacks in three consecutive seasons.
"Every year, I have high expectations of what I should do out there, set goals for myself, and I've been able to be consistent. The more consistent you are, the better you are," Ninko explained.
Perhaps Ninkovich feels underrated for so impressive an accomplishment?
"The [opponents] aren't letting me run around them, let's put it that way," he answered with a grin.
New England finally made official a move that had been rumored since last week, placing rookie DL Dominique Easley (knee) on injured reserve. His season is now over.
Every other member of the 53-man roster and 10-man practice squad was taking part at least on a limited basis Wednesday. That included newcomers Steve Maneri, a tight end who has been in and out of Foxborough this year and in the past, and rookie QB Garrett Gilbert, late of the St. Louis Rams. Gilbert fills an open spot on the p-squad vacated by DL Casey Walker, who was plucked by the Baltimore Ravens to join their 53-man roster.