The task of playing a division opponent is difficult enough in and of itself, but having to travel on a short week to take on a division foe only complicates the matter.
That's the task for the Patriots in Week 12, as they'll play in New York against the Jets on Thanksgiving night. And while Thanksgiving football is nothing new in the NFL, the league has adopted a weekly Thursday night game in 2012 that has helped to whet the appetite of football enthusiasts before the full Sunday slate.
The Patriots and Jets will be the third and final game played on Thanksgiving this year, and the 12th game played during the NFL's Thursday night prime-time slot. The team will leave for New York sometime on Wednesday, which means that six days of preparation will have been effectively crammed into three (including the travel day).
Quarterback Tom Brady talked on Tuesday about the importance of maximizing the limited time the team has, and Bill Belichick mentioned that the team will have to pare down its normal preparations because of the time constraints.
And while the task of going on the road on a short week is no doubt a difficult one, it's not insurmountable. The road teams in the NFL's previous 11 Thursday night games (note: the Cowboys and Giants actually opened up the season on a Wednesday night) have won four of the 11 contests.
The Cowboys (Week 1), Giants (Week 3), Buccaneers (Week 8) and Colts (Week 10) have accomplished the task (the Cowboys win is unique because the team had ample time to prepare for the season opener), and the Patriots already have registered three road wins in 2012.
This also will mark the fourth time that the Patriots have played on Thanksgiving under Belichick (they have won two of the three previous games), and the seventh time playing on a Thursday under Belichick (4-2 overall).
So what does it all mean? Short week or not, the Patriots will head into Thursday with the same mentality as any other game, as the Jets will have had the same amount of time to get ready for the contest. As was evidenced in Week 11 when the Patriots romped the Colts (who had extra time to prepare after their Thursday night game in Week 10), execution on game day is what matters most.