FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are facing a unique situation in Week 14, when they’re facing a team they played just two weeks ago.
The Patriots play the Miami Dolphins on Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium after beating them 35-17 at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 26 in Week 12. So, they could just rest on their laurels and hope they still remember what they learned about the Dolphins leading up to Week 12, but that doesn’t sound much like the Patriots, now does it?
So, instead, the Patriots must start from scratch and put in just as much work as they would on a normal week in a normal scenario.
“We can’t pick up from where we left off,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “That’s not where we are. It’s not what we’re going to do. We just need to start all over again and have a good week, be ready to go here Monday night. It’s a good football team. They have a lot of talent.”
The Dolphins did look like a different team when they beat Denver 35-9 at home in Week 13, but the Broncos are terrible, and not much has changed for Miami since they lost to the Patriots. Quarterback Jay Cutler is back under center after Matt Moore played against the Patriots. Cutler hasn’t been that much better statistically than his backup this season, however.
“It is a little different,” safety captain Devin McCourty said Wednesday. “I feel like we’ve had this before when it’s been like maybe three weeks in between, and then that even feels like we just played these guys. But this really a unique situation.
“I think it forces you to really go over your usual process for the game. I think it’s a week where if you’re not focused and ready to go you could easily be like ‘I know that already. I just saw that.’ But I think when you can, as a team, mentally just understand, have some mental toughness — like if we go over this like it’s a whole new week and we start from scratch and, like we say, ‘refuel the tank’ and we get ready to go and we prepare the right way, you have a chance to really be prepared because now you’re watching games that you’ve already watched.
“But now you’re watching them with a better idea because you’ve played them already. You’ve seen things that they try to attack you with, so now you’re thinking about those things as you’re watching the film again. So it really gives you a chance to be really prepared. Then, obviously, they’re going to come in with some things that we didn’t see last time so hopefully if you prepare well enough the only thing you’ll have to adjust for is the things that come in that are new.”
Obviously it’s the best approach the Patriots can take to a strange situation, and they’ll face it again in Week 16 when they take on the Bills after playing in Buffalo in Week 13.