A Boston columnist made national headlines this week with a sneering editorial on the Texans, writing that the New England Patriots effectively got a second bye week by getting to face a “terrible” team, a group of frauds and "tomato cans" who were the worst 11-1 team in NFL history.
Not surprisingly, that’s not the message from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as his team prepares to face the Texans in a Divisional Round playoff game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
“(They’re) obviously a good football team,” Belichick said of the Texans, who went 12-4 and won the AFC South but lost to the Patriots 42-14 at New England in Week 14. “I think we all know the regular season doesn’t really mean anything at this point. It’s about a one-game matchup.”
Belichick, whose Patriots went 12-4, won the AFC East for the ninth time in 10 years and earned a first-round bye after the Texans lost their final two regular-season games, was asked how he keeps his team from dwelling on its December demolition of the Texans at Gillette Stadium.
“We’ve played division games where we’ve played the same team twice in the division or three times already this year,” Belichick said. “Those games don’t mean anything.”
There’s a common refrain among those who cover the NFL that it’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season. Belichick clearly doesn’t pay any heed to that notion.
“I think all the previous games are pretty meaningless,” Belichick said. “I think it’s a bunch of garbage. The game comes down to teams, the way we match up this weekend, on Sunday. It doesn’t have anything to do with some game that was played this season, last season or some other time. It doesn’t matter. It’s not this game. The game will have its own elements and it will write its own story. And I don’t think any other game has any bearing on this one.”
Belichick has recent postseason history on his side. In 2010, the Patriots beat the New York Jets 45-3 on Monday Night Football in Week 13, only to lose to the Jets 28-21 in the Divisional playoffs at home. But last season, the Patriots beat the Broncos 41-23 at Denver in Week 15. They played again in the playoffs and beat Denver 45-10.
Whether the Texans win or lose on Sunday, it’s not as though either of the Patriots’ last two postseason results will have had an effect. That much is clear, and so is this: The Patriots won’t be overlooking the Texans in the rematch of their lopsided December game – despite what one of their local columnists might think.