The Patriots wrapped up their final practice on Thursday before they will enjoy some time away from the field during the bye week. The divisional round opponent has yet to be determined, but the preparations have already begun in Foxborough as Tom Brady and his teammates await the start of the playoffs next weekend.
Brady spoke about the added intensity level at this time of year at his weekly press conference, which was moved up a day with the team not practicing on Friday.
"I think it's just naturally a level of intensity that you can't really emulate at any other point in the season and really for us, any other point in our life," Brady said. "We all work hard to get to this point and to have an opportunity like we have, I don't think you take them for granted. There's been so many plays that I've seen in my career that had we not made that one play, which could be just an extra effort, could be an arm tackle, could be just one extra push of the pile that ends up being the difference in an entire game and really, an entire season. That's what it's all about.
"It's great when it comes out for us and I think you just try to express that I don't think you can compete any less than what you're ultimately capable of competing at. That level, that's intense and it's every play and it's just, you max out. You can't leave everything behind. You've just got give everything you've got."
At 11-5 and enjoying the rest that the No. 2 seed has provided, Brady was asked what stood out about this particular Patriots team.
"Every team has its own unique identity and this team cares a lot about each other," he said. "We play for each other and we're playing to win. I think that's what we're here for. We've shown we can compete. We've shown we could overcome some adversity. We've been counted out a few times and showed back up with a lot of resolve. We have great character on this team.
"Like I said, our story's still being written and fortunately, we have an opportunity to write it. We've got to go out there and play our best. Every team we play next week and beyond hopefully, is a great team. They've earned it. The team we play will have played a playoff game and we're going to have to play our best game of the year."
With the Patriots start to the postseason still more than a week away, Brady was asked what he hoped to accomplish during the bye week.
"We've had a good couple days of practice, very competitive, and it's going to be that way nine days from now," Brady said. "We're trying to stay sharp and guys are really locked in the last two days. It's good, get a chance to really evaluate ourselves and put our best out there. It's an entirely new season and we've earned the chance to be at this moment and we've got to take advantage of it."
Along those lines, he talked about taking care of things he and his teammates could control rather than looking at any potential opponents at this point.
"This is about regardless of who we play, we need to play well and you've got to be sharp and be alert," he said. "I think just doing some things – we just all got to stay on top of what we're supposed to do. Like I said, it's been competitive and that's good. It's going to need to be that way and we've got to take advantage of the rest and mentally and physically be ready to go next week."