FOXBORO, Mass. — After squaring off against the Denver Broncos this Sunday night at Sports Authority Field, the New England Patriots are going back to school.
With a trip to Mexico City to play the Oakland Raiders up next on the schedule, the Patriots will spend next week in Colorado Springs, practicing at the U.S. Air Force Academy and staying together in a hotel.
Away from the distractions and responsibilities of life at home, the trip will offer opportunities for team bonding rarely afforded during the regular season.
“It?s kind of like back to the dorms,” safety Devin McCourty said. “Back to your off-campus house, hanging out with the guys.”
“It kind of gives you that training camp feel,” wide receiver Danny Amendola added. “You’re in the hotel with the team, with the guys, all week long. It’s a team bonding experience, for sure, and it’s even better when you work really hard and get a couple victories out of it, too. So that’s what we’re working for.”
The Patriots took part in a similar trip late in the 2014 season, spending a week in San Diego after a road loss to the Green Bay Packers. The week culminated in a 23-14 victory over the Chargers, and New England went 5-1 the rest of the way en route to a Super Bowl title.
Outside of the camaraderie aspect, weeks like this also allow for extended film study.
“Obviously, I think it helps us prepare as far as being able to watch film together,” McCourty said. “When you?re in the hotel together, it?s easy to shoot a text to a group of (defensive backs) or the offensive line or defensive line, linebackers. It?s easy to shoot a text: ?Hey, you guys want to watch film at 7 o?clock?? And, ?Yeah.? So, that always helps. When we were in San Diego, we were able to do that.
“It?s a little different than when we?re here from 8 a.m. till whatever time and guys have different responsibilities that they get to at the end of the day, where sometimes you get some extra time, sometimes you don?t. You know, on the road, we?re right there. We?re three doors down from each other. We can always do that. So, as long as you work and do it, it can help preparation.”
Home life still goes on while the players are away, though. Defensive tackle Alan Brach preemptively thanked his wife, Ashley, for holding down the fort while he’s gone.
“The only difference is the wife is going to be watching all four of my kids by herself,” Branch said. “So all the power to her, because she’s a monster. I don’t think I could do that.”
Though next week is the only full week the Patriots will spend away from Foxboro during the regular season, the will be on the road a lot over the next month or so. Five of their next six games are away from Gillette Stadium, including three straight road games against the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.
New England, which is coming off its bye week, currently sits at 6-2 and in first place in the AFC East.