FOXBOROUGH — The New England Patriots don’t know yet who they’ll face in their playoff opener.
But they do have firsthand knowledge about all three potential opponents.
The Patriots, after all, have already played every one of them. They routed the Indianapolis Colts 59-24 and the Houston Texans 42-14 and lost to the Baltimore Ravens 31-30 on a last-play field goal.
So until the he finds out, coach Bill Belichick is playing it safe. The Patriots will focus on themselves, first and foremost. And as for the opponents? Well ...
“We’ll work on everybody,” the coach said yesterday.
New England (12-4) will be home for the divisional round on Jan. 13 against the Texans if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Saturday’s AFC wild-card game. If Houston loses, New England will host the winner of Sunday’s game between Baltimore and Indianapolis.
“After the Houston game, we’ll either be full-speed ahead on Houston,” Belichick said, “or we’ll put that in the drawer and wait and see what happens in the next game.”
Either way, New England will be an interested viewer from afar this weekend. And none of the options will be easy, so any extended look the Patriots can get could prove valuable.
Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones doesn’t know if he’ll be trying to sack Houston’s Matt Schaub, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco or Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck. So, like his teammates, he’ll watch film and concentrate on self-improvement this week. He’ll also review his own handwritten notes from previous games.
“I have a big stack of notes, actually, that I keep,” Jones said, “So it’s good to have those things to look at certain tendencies. I can’t really talk so much about the Colts because I didn’t really play. I was injured (in the first quarter), but, definitely, you can go back through those notes.”