If any of you are expecting a repeat performance by the Patriots, their head coach has a warning for you.
"There were several things in that game that went our way, but I don't think that's really that significant at this point," Bill Belichick told reporters via conference call today at noon.
"We just have to go back and make sure that we're well prepared for the things that they do. The plays will match up differently and I'm sure there will be new plays that weren't in that game. I don't think you can overanalyze that game."
"They are a balanced offense, one that can run the ball. When that running game gets going, it obviously sets up a lot of other things that they can do," defensive coordinator Matt Patricia observed. "Obviously a great wide receiver in Andre Johnson and [Kevin] Walter's certainly very good. Their tight ends are phenomenal, between [Owen] Daniels and [Garrett] Graham and [James] Casey, who was in there also. I think they just really provide a lot of different weapons that they can use offensively that you have to be prepared to stop. It's going to be another big challenge for us and they proved again last week [against the Bengals in the Wild Card] that they can control the game and run the ball and really just do a good job of handling game from that standpoint."
Nevertheless, the fact remains that it will be difficult to put that 42-14 drubbing aside completely, seeing how it happened so recently. But that will be the challenge for New England's players this week – to remind themselves that the Texans are still one of the best teams in the NFL and unlikely to play as poorly as they did in the last meeting.
"The stats and the score and all that, I don't think anybody really cares about that," Belichick continued. "The only thing we really care about is trying to defend what they do and know what we do so we can make the adjustments to it. Or on the other side of the ball, set up the way we want to try to attack their defense and know how when they do different things we'll have to handle their alignments or whatever they're doing, how we're going to handle that, depending on which play we have called. I don't think anybody cares about the stats from the game."
If there's any player who can lead this charge by example, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels believes it is quarterback Tom Brady.
"Tom has a great approach and demeanor about his work every day. I think that's really a great thing to have as a quarterback," McDaniels raved. "If you can be consistent with the way you approach your job – how hard you work and the intensity with which you prepare for each opponent – I think that generally that sets a great example for your teammates and for anybody who is looking at you for leadership, in terms of how you would expect them to do their job too.
"We all get excited when you're in the postseason, I mean this is really what we play and coach for, is to try to have an opportunity to play in these types of games and to coach in these types of games. I'm sure Tom is no different than any player who is really excited for our opportunity this week. But I think that Tom is a pretty consistent guy who has a great approach to doing his job every day as well as he can do it."
With Houston having won on Saturday, New England knew a day ahead of time that they'd be facing the Texans this week. That gave the coaching staff some extra time to begin preparing the game plan, which will be given to players starting tomorrow, when they come back to Gillette Stadium for a rare four-day week of work (as opposed to the regular season standard of three).
They'll need all the extra time they can get, because it's highly unlikely that this week's Houston game will be as easy as the last one.