The Patriots practiced four times this week to get ready for Monday's game against the Chiefs, and they held a walkthrough Sunday. They'll stay in the team hotel Sunday night, conduct a meeting (and potential walkthrough) Monday morning and then retreat for a few hours before returning to Gillette Stadium for the prime-time affair under the lights.
Some players go home, while others stay at the hotel, and they admit it can be tricky to handle those final hours before fully immersing themselves into game mode at the stadium.
"I think you still get a little bit anxious, especially for prime-time games like this, wanting to go out there and play well and do some good things," wide receiver Wes Welker said. "It was probably easier when I was younger because the days do get long. You're just kind of waiting there and getting ready for it."
There are a million ways to pass the time, whether it's by watching television, playing video games or taking a nap. But the most common response from the Patriots was to keep going through the playbook.
"I stay in my hotel room because I know I'm staying at this hotel for a reason," defensive lineman Ron Brace said. "It's to get ready for the people we're about to play. If I'm sitting at that hotel just lackadaisical, then I'm just wasting my time. So I try to read up on whatever notes we have, go over anything from the meeting, or if we had a walkthrough, just think about what we did or what I could do better, or watch a little bit of film. There's always something you can pick up on somebody, maybe a key or something at the end, right before the game. Maybe you can pick up something that might be a game changer."
The important thing is staying even-keeled throughout the day. The players don't want to get too anxious or expend any unnecessary energy, even if it's only mental, before the game.
At this point in the season, the Patriots have gotten used to the later starts — they've only had one kickoff at 1 p.m. so far — and this is their second game on Monday Night Football. And as defensive lineman Gerard Warren put it, he's been playing in prime time for years.
"I grew up playing big-time college football — night games come at the University of Florida," Warren said. "That's what we did during the day to keep ourselves occupied — continue to study the opponent."
Plus, there's nothing the players can do to change the time of kickoff, and they know the reason why they're on national television is because the world wants to watch them. They might as well prepare appropriately.
"We've got to make sure we're ready regardless of whatever time we're playing, whether it be 7 in the morning or 8 at night," running back Danny Woodhead said. "We've got to make sure we're prepared and use that time for preparation."