By now, if you're a Patriots fan, you know the situation.
They have to beat the Buffalo Bills this Sunday in upstate New York in order even to have a chance at making the playoffs. And they could finish as high as the 3-seed or as low at the 6.
If the Miami Dolphins lose this Sunday to the New York Jets, the Pats would win the AFC East by beating Buffalo. New England would then be the 3-seed and would host either the Jets or Baltimore Ravens next weekend in round one of the playoffs.
If Miami wins and the Ravens lose, the Pats would be the 6th-seeded team (assuming the beat the Bills) and would be forced to travel to Miami on Wild Card Weekend, as the Dolphins would be AFC East champs and the 3-seed. If both the Ravens and Dolphins win, the Pats' season is over, regardless of what they do in Buffalo.
So, New England finds itself in the unusual position of having to cheer for the Jets.
On being in that rare position, defensive endTy Warrenhad this to say to reporters at his locker on Friday.
"We can't get all caught up in what may happen or what may not happen, because we put ourselves in the situation we're in. The only thing we can do to give us an opportunity to go further is to go to Buffalo and get a win.
"Nobody's going to give you a free pass to get into the playoffs," he continued. "You've just got to earn it. This game will give us a better opportunity to get into the playoffs. If not, there's nothing you can do about it."
Warren was also asked if the defense has hit its stride this month.
"Yeah, it has," he answered. "And we've had our points of emphasis that we needed to work on. I think we're playing good ball and have been for the past several weeks – on both sides and special teams."
One key, he said, has been New England's ability to stuff the run and force opposing offenses into obvious passing downs on third down, where the Pats have had success stopping team in recent weeks.
"Turnovers are always a key to victory," Warren added. "The more turnovers we can get on our side, the better. We do what we need to do to give the offense an opportunity … field position has been real good here these past several weeks. Everything goes hand-in-hand. It's a domino effect."
Finally, Warren was informed that the Patriots stand a better-than-average chance of setting a new NFL record for committing the lowest number of penalties in a season.
"The only thing that means anything at the end of the day is winning," he countered. "At this point in the season, you know what it's all about."
Yeah, we know.
Weathering the conditions
Weather conditions can be notoriously bad in the Buffalo area this time of year. With that in mind, WR Jabar Gaffneywas asked this week if he likes playing in inclement weather because the offense is perceived to have an advantage.
"That's the saying," he replied, "but the truth of it is, both teams have to play in it. Our defense did a pretty good job of staying on their feet [against Arizona in the snow]. You've just gotta have the right equipment on.
"The conditions are what they are," he continued. "We play against the other team, not the weather. Going to Buffalo this time of year, who knows what the weather will be. Whatever the conditions are, we've gotta strap up and go play."
Practice/locker room update
Briefly spotted at Gillette Stadium today were QB Tom Bradyand LB Adalius Thomas. Both players peeked out of the training room before quickly ducking back inside.
Later at practice, the Patriots continuing working out on the FieldTurf surface of Gillette Stadium, in order to simulate the conditions they'll play on at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Weather in Buffalo Sunday calls for balmy temps in the 50s with rain showers.
Four players were absent from the start of practice: LB Tedy Bruschi(knee), WR/DB *Ray Ventrone *(jaw), OL *Billy Yates (hand), and DE *Richard Seymour **back).