Following Sunday night's 56-10 undressing of the Bills in Buffalo -- a team that despite its second-place spot in the AFC East showed just how far the divide is between the Patriots and the rest of the division -- New England embarks on what should be its most trying stretch of the second half of the season.
The still undefeated Patriots, after becoming just the 18th team in NFL history to start the season 10-0, face another pair of primetime meetings in the coming weeks leading up to a Dec. 9 home contest against the sometimes dangerous Steelers in Foxborough. A three-game stretch of night games -- starting with Sunday's flexible scheduling win in Buffalo, followed by a previously schedule Football Night in America hosting of the Eagles and then a Monday night meeting with the Ravens in Baltimore -- isn't exactly an ideal schedule for a team looking to maintain momentum, remain undefeated and build toward the postseason.
But that's life as the marquee team in the NFL on course for a potentially historic season, especially under the modern TV-driven flexible scheduling system. Not surprisingly, though, Bill Belichick and his team are taking their usual approach of not worrying about things that aren't under their control.
The games are scheduled, the team will play them and do its best to win them. Sounds simple, and Belichick and his players work to keep it that way. Another week, another game and another chance to continue toward the ultimate goal.
"We take our normal week preparation and then whatever time the game is, then we work back from that, about 48 hours," Belichick said of dealing with the stretch of night games. "But our preparations into the game are the same for the week, and then it gets to working backwards based on the scheduling from the pre-game meal to our final preparations, how we wrap all of that up on offense, defense and special teams, kind of our last meeting, then our next-to-last meeting and we just back it up."
With veteran team leaders like Tom Brady used to the winning ways and the attention that the Patriots have received throughout much of the quarterback's career at the helm in New England, the Patriots are as poised as any team to take on the challenges of the coming weeks.
"It's been that way for six years," Brady said of the attention surrounding New England's season. "I think I'd rather be in this position that any other position, but it all comes down to how you play on Sundays. It all comes down to the way you practice and prepare and, ultimately, how you go out and execute. I think there's pressure for each player. Some guys are trying to make the team. Some guys are trying to get out on the field. Some guys are playing for contracts. Some guys are playing for some great individual awards and we're all playing for the same team award. There's always pressure, but pressure to win? That's been in the NFL since I've been here."