The New England Patriots will be spending a week in sunny California with two games in four days against Los Angeles teams.
The Patriots will fly to Los Angeles on Friday afternoon and set up shop at UCLA’s campus, play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET, spend a few days practicing at UCLA, play the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET, then fly back to New England early Friday morning.
That sure beats four cross-country flights in less than a weeks’ span even though players won’t exactly get to explore Southern California while in the midst of a pandemic. That probably works to Bill Belichick’s favor, however, since it will be an all-business trip.
This is the third time the Patriots will have stayed over between road games in the last six years. The Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 13 of the 2014 season, stayed in San Diego for the week then beat the then-San Diego Chargers in Week 14. The Patriots emerged victorious over the Denver Broncos in Week 10 of the 2017 season, spent the week practicing in Colorado Springs at Air Force to prepare for altitude before beating the then-Oakland Raiders in Mexico City in Week 11.
The Patriots also won games in 2009 and 2012 after practicing and playing in London. They had two West Coast road trips in 2008, beating the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5 and losing to the Chargers in Week 6 then beating the Seahawks in Week 14 and the Raiders in Week 15.
So, the Patriots are 3-1 in both the first leg and second leg of west-coast road trips since 2008. That bodes pretty well for a 5-6 Patriots team that needs to win its upcoming slate of games.
The NFL has attempted to limit long road trips this season, but it would have been counterproductive to ask the Patriots to pile into planes for nearly an entire day’s worth of travel, total, as a means to mitigate risk.
Belichick said this week that the Patriots didn’t run into any issues receiving permission to stay in California for the week.
“I wasn’t probably directly involved with that,” Belichick said Monday. “That’s things that our staff handled with the league. I don’t recall there being any problems.”
Overall, as long as everyone on the team adheres to protocols, the Patriots actually could wind up being safer on a long road trip than they would have been staying at home around their families. The Patriots essentially will be creating a bubble among themselves. That doesn’t mean they can suddenly act like they aren’t in the midst of a pandemic, however, because of incubation times. A member of the team could unknowingly have been exposed to COVID before the trip begins and wouldn’t test positive until days later. But while on the road, there would, in theory, be less risk for exposure to the virus.