Hannable: Bill Belichick is not messing around with Broncos this week

Ryan Hannable
November 08, 2017 - 10:22 pm

David Butler II/USA Today Sports

FOXBORO — Sure, the Broncos have lost four straight games and are coming off an embarrassing 51-23 loss to the Eagles on the road this past Sunday, but don’t think Bill Belichick is easing his team into the second half of the season following the bye week.

“[They’re] a good football team, very good at home, very good in their stadium,” Belichick said Wednesday of the Broncos. “The fans have a lot of energy. It's a great crowd, a great football environment, Sunday night. I'm sure that place will be lit up. I feel like we'll need our best game Sunday night and that’s what we're working towards. Hopefully, that’s what we'll be able to get.”

This was the focus of his Wednesday press conference, as he was not in the mood for random questions not having to do with his team or the Broncos.

Q: Is your goal to retire with Tom Brady as your starting quarterback?

A: “Yeah, goal right now is to beat Denver.”

Q: There’s an upcoming ESPN 30 for 30 documentary with you and Bill Parcells, who put the media in its place better, you or Parcells?

A: “Denver is the target this week. I know there’s all the other stuff on your mind, but right now I am just focused on Denver. Sorry, we can’t connect on that.”

He continued this mindset when meeting with the Denver media on a conference call.

Q: What’s your focus going into this week?

A: “I don’t know. I’m not really concerned about my career. I’m just trying to beat Denver this week, that’s all. That’s a big challenge. That’s really where my focus is this week. It’s to try to help this team compete against the Broncos.”

New England has won four straight following a 2-2 start and currently is tied for first place in the AFC, but Belichick is clearly making a point this week to make sure his team doesn’t get anywhere near complacent and is solely focused on the Broncos — not the following game in Mexico City, not spending the next week in Colorado -- strictly Sunday’s game against Denver.

After all, the Patriots have struggled in Denver under Belichick. Including the postseason, New England is 4-7 in games played in the Mile High City. Also, the Patriots haven’t played up to their standard in games following the bye of late. Overall, they are 12-4 under Belichick following the bye, but just 3-3 in the last six years, including the loss to Seattle last year.

Denver comes into the game with 13 turnovers in its last four games and the 18th ranked offense in the league. It will start Brock Osweiler at quarterback, who started his first game of the year last week and went 19-for-38 for 208 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the loss to the Eagles. Osweiler did beat the Patriots the last time he faced them as a member of the Broncos in 2014 when he led the Broncos to a fourth-quarter comeback and eventual overtime win. He’s not the same quarterback now as he was then, though.

A major reason why Belichick is so adamant about staying focused on Denver this week is because of what lies ahead. 

This game begins the toughest stretch of the season with five out of six games on the road. Denver and Oakland may be the two easiest road games of the bunch, as after a home game against the Dolphins after Thanksgiving, the Patriots travel to Buffalo, Miami on a Monday night and then at Pittsburgh on a short week to close out the brutal stretch.

Taking care of business these next two weeks is extremely important so the team can buy itself a game of two if it needs it for when it takes to the road for three straight games in December.

New England controls its own destiny when it comes to the AFC’s overall No. 1 seed and needs to start playing its best football of the year. While the record of 6-2 isn’t bad, the consistency hasn’t been what it needs to be moving forward.

Even though the Broncos may not be as good as some Denver teams in the past, Belichick certainly isn’t letting his team take them for granted. 

It is mid-November after all, no time to mess around.

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