LONDON -- While the New England Patriots will play in a very unfamiliar location when they take on the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, the team has done everything in its power to make the week as normal as possible.
The Patriots, who will play their second game in London in four years, moved up their practice week to Monday, ensuring they had three days of work at their Foxborough, Mass., facility. Meanwhile, the Rams have spent the week in England preparing to take on the AFC East leaders.
"We mostly slept on the flight over," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said at the team's media availability upon arrival in London. "I think everyone feels pretty good, and we're all excited to be here, but we still have work to do today."
The team won't have any problem focusing on the real task in hand. Citing New England's Super Bowl appearance in Indianapolis in February, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork explained the players know how to maintain focus away from their normal surroundings.
"Guys know how to take care of themselves," Wilfork explained. "Nobody has to tell us to schedule a nap or anything like that. The coaches trust us to do the right thing."
Brady said an emphasis will be avoid London's countless distractions.
"We need to use these next few days to prepare well for the game, because this is certainly not a sightseeing tour," Brady said.
Brady's task will be tougher without tight end Aaron Hernandez, whom NFL Network learned did not make the trip.
The Patriots already have struggled against NFC West opponents, suffering losses at the hands of the Seahawks and Cardinals, including a loss in Seattle. Brady believes the Patriots will take what they learned from the defeat in the Pacific Northwest and apply it Sunday.
"That was the same difference to travel, just the opposite direction," Brady said. "We played decent football for most of that game, and just let the lead slip away from us at the end. This is a different game and a different challenge, and we've been preparing for it since we finished up against the Jets. Hopefully we'll play better for 60 minutes this time."
One thing the Patriots can count on is good support in the United Kingdom, where their recent successes have led to them being the most-popular team among NFL fans there.
"It would make logical sense for the New England Patriots to have some fans here in England," Brady said. "Hopefully we give them reasons to cheer."
Follow Henry Hodgson on Twitter @nflukhank.