The Patriots have never lost to the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome.
Granted, they rarely play that team, and in this decade, they've squared off twice, with the Saints visiting Foxborough both times. But in four previous trips to New Orleans, the Patriots have come home with wins.
Doing so this time around would be big news, however, as no team has beaten the Saints to this point in the season.
"I know they're playing good football. And evidently, they're coaching good and making good decisions," cornerback Jonathan Wilhite told reporters on Wednesday. "And these are the most important months of the NFL season. I feel like they're just making plays. The players are doing what they're asked to do and making plays."
Quarterback Drew Brees, a trio of running backs – including superstar Reggie Bush – and a quiver of wide receivers, headlined by Marques Colston, make this Saints offense perhaps the most potent the Patriots will face this year – Colts included.
"This is the week that you have to do your job, because they can do anything," Wilhite continued. "This team can do anything and the quarterback can make all the throws, he makes good decisions, he's very accurate. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
"We need to cover pretty much everything," added safety Brandon Meriweather. "It's not just a one-person team. It's not just Drew Brees, it's not just Reggie Bush, it's everybody."
New Orleans' defense is playing equally well, but lately, teams have played to tight scores against the Saints. It's those games that the Patriots are focusing on to try to get an idea of how to slow down the high-scoring Saints.
"Carolina did a good job of showing one thing and playing another," Meriweather observed. "Atlanta did it. Pretty much everybody in their division knows how to play them. We're just watching film on them to see what they did."
This will mark the sixth time this season that the Patriots have faced an unbeaten team, most recently on the road versus the Colts, when New England had a sizeable fourth quarter lead, only to fall short at the end.
Wilhite and his teammates understand what's at stake Monday night and hope to take the lessons they learned in Indy a few weeks ago with them to New Orleans.
"I think it'll help a lot. We've played against some good teams this year. Teams that can move the ball around. This is one of those weeks that you have to prepare extra, study a little bit more film. Everybody's going to be watching, so, it's going to be a game to make a stand."
"Just going into that atmosphere and taking what we took from that game will help us tremendously," said Meriweather.
Several Patriots players either played in or grew up in Louisiana, including Wilhite, but he wasn't a Saints fan as a kid. He said he followed the Dallas Cowboys, as did running back Kevin Faulk, who played at LSU.
DL Jarvis Green, another Bayou Bengal and Louisiana native, is looking forward to the game, not only as a homecoming, but also as a possible return to action. He's been sidelined since coming home from the London game, when he had surgery on his knee during the team's bye week.
Original reports had him returning from the procedure in 2-4 weeks. This would be the fourth week since his operation, and he's been out there for the past couple of practices, so he was asked if this would be a logical week for him to return.
"Yeah, it would be good," he replied. "We'll just have to see how things go, take it one day at a time, and just study film, because I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the week."
Wednesday locker room/practice notes
Ten players were not on the field for the start of Wednesday's practice, which isn't too surprising, given the team has an extra day to prepare for the Monday night affair in New Orleans. The missing players were as follows: rookie WR Julian Edelman, RB Fred Taylor, rookie S Pat Chung, LBs Rob Ninkovich and Pierre Woods, NT Vince Wilfork, rookie LT Sebastian Vollmer, RT Nick Kaczur, WR Randy Moss, and rookie DL Ron Brace.
G Stephen Neal, who missed all of last week's practices and the Jets game, was back in uniform and on the field.
The Patriots practiced in shells and sweat pants inside the Dana-Farber Field House, presumably to get used to playing in conditions similar to what they'll see in the Louisiana Superdome.