FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick emphatically dismissed the notion that won-loss records have any bearing on a team's preparation for a particular week's game.
Obviously, the Colts' 0-11 mark is the elephant in the room, and the absence of quarterback Peyton Manning makes it unlikely that their season will turn around any time soon, if ever. The Patriots, meanwhile, are 8-3 and are making their way toward a first-round bye in the playoffs for the second straight season.
And they rarely lose to inferior teams, especially at this point in the season. Since 2001, the Patriots are 23-3 against teams with losing records in December and January (the three losses were all against the Dolphins — in 2004, 2006 and 2009).
Belichick, though, doesn't care in the slightest. And while everyone on the outside is chalking this one up as a Patriots victory, Belichick knows the hype and the records won't help them on the scoreboard Sunday.
"[The players] have heard me talk about it every week, saying we don't care about the record, and we don't," Belichick said. "What difference does it make? How somebody played two weeks ago against somebody else, who cares? Us or anybody else, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is how we and the Colts perform against each other on Sunday. That's all that matters. Who cares who won three weeks ago in some other game with some other players? It doesn't matter."
While it's easy to poke fun at Belichick for talking up an inferior opponent, that's the difference between the media and the guys on the field. The media can and will overlook the Colts this week — hey, that's the nature of the business when a team gets outscored by a league-worst 177 points through 11 games — but it's the Patriots' job to take them seriously and dispose of them in proper fashion.
Plus, it's probably a credit to Belichick's program that everyone has already chalked this one up as a New England victory. That 23-3 record doesn't happen accidentally — just look at the Ravens, who have almost routinely lost to bad teams since 2009, even though they've been just as commonly referred to as a Super Bowl contender — and it's evident when speaking with the players in the locker room, whose businesslike attitude comes straight from the coaching staff.
"We talk about it every game," Belichick said. "It doesn't matter. The 16 games on our schedule, they're all the same. It's our team against that team that week. We look at, try to learn about our opponent and scout them and pick up tendencies and strengths and weaknesses and all that, but how we match up against that team that day is all that matters. The rest of it is a bunch of garbage. You guys can write about it all you want, but it doesn't matter, really. The winner of this game will be decided by which team plays better on Sunday, not what happened four weeks ago. This is a news story, but it's like that every week, every week."
It wasn't just coach speak, either. Belichick emphatically drove his point home to the media, and it actually became clear why his players have had so much success against inferior opponents over the last decade.
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