Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

Patriots know how important Sunday's game is vs. Jets: 'We have to approach this like it’s a playoff game'

Ryan Hannable
December 26, 2018 - 5:17 pm

FOXBORO -- It's pretty simple for the Patriots: win Sunday at home against the Jets and be guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed and get a first-round bye. Lose, and likely have to play on wild card weekend.

The Patriots know how important a first-round bye is, which is why they are treating Sunday's game with such high regard.

“We have to approach this like it’s a playoff game," wide receiver Chris Hogan said on Wednesday. "There’s definitely a lot riding on this game, and I don’t think we’re looking forward to what happens in the future. I think all of our focus is on the Jets and what we have to do to come out and play a good football game against them.”

Added Hogan: “I think the sense of urgency and your preparation has to be at an all-time high. Put everything you’ve got into this week and whatever happens after that happens because at this point, we’re really down to one-week seasons. And we know that, and a lot of guys have been in these situations before.”

New England beat the Jets back in late November, 27-13 on the road, but Bill Belichick noted they are a totally different now with rookie quarterback Sam Darnold back playing and gaining confidence.

“You’ve got to forget about that last game. We played good, that’s great. But if we can’t do it again, it feels like a playoff game and it’ll be like us losing in the playoffs," safety Patrick Chung said. "We’ve got to do that consistently and do that play by play and game by game.”

For the record, the Patriots have had a first-round bye in eight straight seasons.

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