FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick has made no secret about the fact that the Patriots will watch the film from their playoff loss to the Jets, but the players have insisted that it will be for instructional purposes only. They aren't going to need to draw up any additional motivation from the way their 2010 season concluded.
To state the obvious, they know this week won't change anything that happened in January.
"That was a long time ago, so that game doesn't have much bearing on this week," quarterback Tom Brady said. "We're a different team."
Safety Patrick Chung echoed Brady's sentiment, saying, "I don't worry about that. That was last year. It was last year. We're not worried about that stuff. It's a new team, new season."
The Patriots (3-1, 1-1 AFC East) have a one-game edge on the Jets (2-2, 0-0), who have lost two in a row. New England can pick up a game in the division and send a psychological blow to its rivals from the southwest, who thrive on confidence.
"It's a big game, a division game," left guard Logan Mankins said. "Anytime you play a division game, it counts for a lot when it comes down to the end if you're tied with the other team. It's a big win for us. It's one of our rival teams, so it's always a big week."
Look back to the 2010 regular season for further evidence of the Patriots' thought process. The Pats and Jets went into their Week 13 showdown at Gillette with matching 9-2 records, and that game was basically going to be the difference between a first-round bye and opening the playoffs on the road.
The stakes aren't as high Sunday, but the Patriots could have keyed on some other motivational tactics in last year's regular-season matchup. Earlier in the year, Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards did the Dougie all over cornerback Darius Butler, showing him up in a way that certainly ticked off Butler's teammates. While the Patriots had it in the back of their mind during the rematch, they knew their position in the standings were more important than revenge.
It's a similar mentality this week.
"I don't think we need to fuel anything," Mankins said. "We know it's a big week. We don't need to look to that for motivation."