Let the hype begin.
Tuesday's Guest: Tom Brady
"They give you a lot to get ready for," New England coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call Monday.
Perhaps Belichick, master of the understatement, won't be the best source for excitement in the next week, but there should be plenty of others as this game approaches.
Much more is riding on it than the first meeting in Week 2, when the Jets won 28-14 at the Meadowlands. Both teams are 9-2 and the winner will take the lead in the AFC East as well as the overall conference standings with just a month to go in the regular season.
Belichick politely complimented the Jets and their accomplishments in the nine games since the rivals last met. While the overall records are identical, New York currently holds the tiebreaker with the head-to-head victory and is also 3-0 in the division. But that only gives the Jets a technical edge in the standings, which the Patriots can turn around with a win at home.
"I think it's just obvious. There's fewer games, (and) a lot of teams are packed closely together. Each game becomes more important, more critical and has bigger impact on the final standings," he said. "Right now, you just want to put yourself in good position where you're in contention."
"Whatever they've had to do, they've done it. They've really done a good job in clutch situations," Belichick said of the Jets. "We know there will be some wrinkles there one way or another and we'll have to adjust to them Monday night."
Both teams have had a bit of a break since playing on Thanksgiving, plus a bonus day thanks to the Monday night scheduling. Extra days this late in the season give the players more recovery time, which is especially welcome as the prime-time showdown approaches.
It also means more time for the hype to build, something New England quarterback Tom Brady is already trying to keep in check.
"There's always a part of me that knows, 'Man, you can lose. You can have a really bad game and lose,'" said Brady, who added he is trying hard to get his point across to younger teammates who haven't been here before. "Man, listen, we haven't done anything. Literally nothing. Zero. Nine wins? Nine wins is nothing."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press