Some players prefer to have the bye week later in the season. Some really don't mind. The Patriots aren't concerned with the timing at all. As far as they're concerned, a bye week is critical at any point.
"I think the answer to that, no matter where you are in the season, would be yes," wide receiver Wes Welker said when asked if the bye is arriving at a good moment. "Not only from a physical standpoint but a mental standpoint, a lot of times it's nice to get a few days to kind of relax and get away."
The Patriots don't have a ton of issues at this point other than improving their defense, which has already begun to take shape. Over the past two weeks, they've applied more consistent pressure to the quarterback, which has resulted in much more manageable situations on third downs -- another problem area early in the season.
Also, the Patriots have strived to be more balanced offensively. That, too, has begun to improve. The emergence of Stevan Ridley and the continued success of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in goal-line situations has resulted in much more realistic pass-to-run ratios, making life easier for quarterback Tom Brady.
Of course, there's always health. The Patriots are anticipating the return of running back Kevin Faulk, who just came off the physically unable to perform list, along with defensive lineman Ron Brace, who hasn't played all season following elbow surgery.
The potential return of those players should help address the issues the Patriots have been trying to improve.
From that standpoint, this is a perfect time for a bye because the Patriots can go into the break feeling good about their 5-1 record while also doing a bit of self-scouting to make sure they are focusing on the areas of need. The fact they have two key players on the brink of returning makes it that much easier to absorb.
As for the regulars, this is a time to take a break from football, both physically and mentally.
"I think you kind of put (football) out of the mind for a few days," Welker said. "It's just so much every single day of football, football, football, and so it's kind of nice to get a few days where you relax and spend time with family and friends and get away from it for a few days.
"It's not like spring break when you're in college or anything like that, it's more of -- you still have to work out and do some of those things, but you're not out there running routes and do all of those things on a daily basis but still making sure you're still getting a lot of rest and a lot of sleep and not staying out late."
Coach Bill Belichick has encouraged his players to take some time away from the game despite the fact they are continuing to practice this week as if they have a game on the horizon.
BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Rushing touchdowns by BenJarvus Green-Ellis since the start of the 2010 season, tied for the second most in the NFL.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I called my agent, and after about five seconds of the conversation, he was like, 'You're kind of excited, what's going on?' so I might have been a little excited." -- RB Kevin Faulk, when asked his reaction to beginning to practice again after missing the first six games of the season with a knee injury.
Week 7 Games:
Washington Redskins (3-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-5)
Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at Detroit Lions (5-1)
Denver Broncos (1-4) at Miami Dolphins (0-5)
San Diego Chargers (4-1) at New York Jets (3-3)
Chicago Bears (3-3) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)
Houston Texans (3-3) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)
Seattle Seahawks (2-3) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) at Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-2)
Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Indianapolis Colts (0-6) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)
Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
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