Pats prep for three possible opponents

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- By Saturday night, the Patriots could know who they will play in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

Or they might not.

If the Texans win, they automatically become the Patriots' opponent for Jan. 13.

Should the Bengals upset the Texans, the Colts-Ravens game on Sunday would then become a win-and-travel-to-Foxborough scenario, meaning the Patriots would be able to hone in on that game for preparation purposes.

On Wednesday, head coach Bill Belichick talked about the process of preparing for each of the three teams, and divvying up time and resources to each potential opponent.

Despite the fact that the Texans have the most direct path to facing the Patriots, Belichick said the team isn’t using Houston as a starting point, as all three teams are very much in play.

“No, we’ll work on everybody,” he said. “After the Houston game, we’ll either be full speed ahead on Houston or we’ll put that in the drawer and wait and see what happens in the next game. We have to be prepared for all three of them so that’s what we’ll do.”

Before the weekend arrives, the Patriots will continue to make use of a bye week that affords the team rest and practice time on the field. Belichick said this week differs from a normal bye week during the regular season, however, because of the fact that the next opponent is to be determined.

“Now it’s just a one-game season,” he said. “We don’t know who our opponent is. We’re doing things that we think will help our football team. Once we know who our opponent is, then we’ll zero in on that opponent and try to do everything we can to get our highest level of performance against them next Sunday.”

When the Patriots finally kick off in the postseason, Belichick fully expects his team to be fired up.

“Of course, it’s a playoff game,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. You play all regular season to get into the playoffs. Yeah, I would hope we’re more excited and more amped up to play. It’s a higher level of competition. Not that the regular season isn’t, but the playoffs are higher, there’s no question about that.”