The Patriots know the stakes. A win this weekend in Miami would give them the AFC East crown for the tenth consecutive season. Almost as importantly, for their own psyches, perhaps, would be a strong showing in South Florida, where they frequently have difficulty.
“They’re 5-1 at home [this season], and we’re 1-4 the last five times we’ve played them there. It’s a big game, division opponent,” wide receiver Julian Edelman acknowledged. “It’s just one of those things where they’re always tough at home. They play us well. But it’s a new year, new team. Hopefully we can go down there, execute well, and see where it brings us.”
“This is another playoff run that we’re on right now,” tight end Rob Gronkowski told reporters. “You appreciate them, but you also have to take it week-by-week. It’s another grind this week. We have to play hard. We’ve got a lot on the line, they’ve got a lot on the line. We’ve got to play our best football.”
For Gronkowski, 2018 hasn’t seen him play his best football. By his own admission, he needs to do more to help the Patriots reach their goal this week and beyond. And now that he’s off the injury report (he’d been on it with ankle and back injuries earlier), he hopes to get back to an elite level.
“I feel like, obviously, I can be more effective, for sure,” Gronkowski continued. “Just been putting practices together, working hard, doing what I’ve been asked to do. I just have to keep sticking to that. We had a good week of practice. I’m just working every single week. Hopefully, it just all comes together.”
At this time of year, almost every game seems to have playoff implications, so, it can be tempting to look around the league and see where other teams are in relation to your own.
“You’re always curious,” added Gronkowski. “You always want to be in the loop of what’s going on in the league. You know everything that’s going on [with other teams], but you control your own destiny. You have to put the work in, and it’s all about how you play.
“I’m excited to get down [to Miami] in some warm weather. It’s going to be a change from what we’ve been practicing in the last couple weeks – mid-30s, 40 degrees. We just have to go down there and execute, make plays, and start fast from the get-go.”