FOXBORO, Mass. — This Saturday night, the New England Patriots will take the field in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. Almost everyone seems to believe a sixth straight AFC Championship Game appearance will follow.
The Patriots are massive 16-point favorites over the visiting Houston Texans, who lost to the Pats 27-0 in Week 3 and have beaten them just once in eight all-time meetings.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman followed suit Thursday before describing how fired up he is for Saturday night.
“If your blood doesn’t get boiling for something like this, you’re in the wrong profession,” Edelman said. “You’re definitely excited, but at least I try to keep calm, stay focused and let my energy save up for (Saturday). I’m definitely excited, but I’m definitely focused on having another day to go over, tighten everything up and get ready to go in and play a very good football team.”
Some additional notes from Thursday:
— Here’s an updated look at Edelman’s pre-playoff beard, which has reached full mountain-man status:
— Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola grew up just north of Houston, and he said he has a few friends back home in The Woodlands, Texas, who will be rooting for the visitors Saturday night.
“A couple, I think,” Amendola said. “I’ve tried to convert all my friends back in Houston into Patriots fans, which was successful to a small degree. But there’s definitely a buzz in the air amongst my family and my friends. I have an opportunity to play the hometown team, and that’s cool.”
Amendola said he’s ready to go after missing the last four games with a high ankle sprain.
— The Patriots are largely healthy heading into their playoff opener, but one health-related situation worth monitoring involves running back LeGarrette Blount. Blount missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an illness, putting his status for Saturday’s game in question.
New England’s leading rusher has yet to miss a game this season. He had one of his best performances in the first Patriots-Texans meeting, rushing 24 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
— Receiver Chris Hogan is one of several Patriots players preparing to play in his first postseason game. He’s been seeking out advice on how to handle the stage from some of the team’s playoff-tested veterans.
“I’ve kind of picked a couple of guys brains here,” Hogan said. “(Matthew Slater), Tom (Brady), Josh (McDaniels), Julian. You know, those guys that have been here before. (I) just asked them how to approach this game, and it’s really the same thing from all of them — just another football game.
“It’s going to be electric with the fans, everyone is going to be really into it. There’s going to be a lot of energy, but I’ve just got to approach it like another football game and not get too hyped up and just keep playing good football.”
— January has been an accolade-filled month for Matthew Slater.
Within the span of a few weeks, the Patriots special teams captain garnered Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors, the Bart Starr Award and, on Thursday, the first annual Ron Hobson Media Good Guy Award, which was voted on by members of the New England media.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images