After finishing the season an unprecedented 16-0, the Patriots now sit and wait. New England has a bye this weekend and will host Tennessee, Pittsburgh or Jacksonville at Gillette Stadium next Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.
The Patriots have won nine consecutive home playoff games and have not lost at home in the playoffs since Dec. 31, 1978. New England's nine consecutive home playoff victories since then are tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. The Patriots will play in their 22nd playoff game since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a total that stands as the highest in the league over that period.
The 2007 Patriots became the fourth team in the NFL's 88-season history to complete an undefeated and untied regular season. Along the way, they set records for most points (589) and most touchdowns (75) by any team since the league was founded in 1920. But with the regular season in the rearview mirror, the Patriots will turn all of their focus to their playoff game on Jan. 12, when they will play their most important game of the season.
Even with all the Patriots success this season, head coach Bill Belichick is still taking things one day at a time.
"We know what the situation is in the playoffs," Belichick said. "We've been there before. Lose and go home, win and keep playing. It's all one-game seasons now."
The players had the day off on Wednesday before heading back to work on Thursday. The extra day of rest should serve the Patriots well. After their win over the Giants to complete a perfect season, many of the players admitted that they were glad some of the pressure was finally off them. Now, they're ready to move forward and finish the job.
"Now that the regular season is over, I'm going to enjoy it for maybe two days instead of one or so," Tedy Bruschi said about the undefeated season. "We realize that we have bigger goals to accomplish. The tournament is starting now and there are a lot of teams in it that feel like they have a chance. They should feel that way because every team that has made the playoffs has a legitimate chance to be a world champion. So we have to forget about this and move on to who is next."
Now the Patriots just need someone to play. If form holds and the No. 3 seeded Chargers take care of business against the No. 6 seeded Titans, New England will face the winner of Saturday night's Jacksonville-Pittsburgh matchup. The Patriots easily disposed of the Steelers 34-13 back in Week 14. New England last played the Jaguars in the second-to-last game of 2006, a 24-21 Patriots victory. The Patriots will be prohibitive favorites over whichever team they face in their first playoff game.
"I think we'll really take a good look at that whole situation after today's games are in and we see how things shake out," Belichick said Sunday. "We played San Diego a long time ago. The Colts game was in the middle of the season as well. So we know those two teams, and Pittsburgh was the most recent of (those) games. So we have some familiarity with those teams, but some of those games showed up quite a while back, so we'll wait and see how things shake out today and what the seedings are and then take a look at what potentially could be our next game and we'll go from there."
--The New England Patriots became the first team in NFL history to complete a 16-0 regular season with a thrilling 38-35 victory over the New York Giants on NFL Network's Saturday Night Football telecast. The telecast was also the first in league history to air on three networks nationally with simulcasts on CBS and NBC and local over-the-air partners WWOR in New York, WCVB in Boston and WMUR in Manchester.
Based on fast national ratings, an average of 34.5 million viewers (viewership through final gun) tuned into the Patriots-Giants game, ranking as the most-watched show of the current television season and the most-watched program since the Academy Awards on Feb. 25. The Patriots-Giants game is the most-watched NFL regular-season game since Thanksgiving 1995 (35.7 million for Chiefs-Cowboys).
--The New England Patriots will host an AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET. It is the fifth consecutive year that the Patriots have hosted a playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
--Tom Brady finished the season with 50 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, which sets the NFL record for best touchdown-to-interception differential (plus-42). Colts QB Peyton Manning, who was plus-39 in 2004, held the previous record.
--The Patriots will have the seventh overall selection in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. The seventh overall pick comes from the San Francisco 49ers, who finished 5-11. The Patriots acquired the pick in a trade made during the 2007 draft. New England traded a first-round pick (28th overall) to the 49ers for a 2008 first-round pick and a 2007 fourth-round pick.
Everyone Is Equal: "I think we all know that. We talked about it already after the game. Of course, we know what the situation is in the playoffs. We've been there before. Lose and go home, win and keep playing. It's all one-game seasons now. Everybody is aware of that. We'll have to have a good week of preparation and prepare to play well against our next opponent, whoever that is. But we know that team is one of the best teams in the league. So it will be a huge challenge for us and that is what we will start getting ready for." -- Bill Belichick, on all the teams in the playoffs being 0-0 at this point.