The Patriots are back at work today after having been giving a short break from Bill Belichick following their Thanksgiving day win over the Lions last week, and now it’s time to start getting ready to face the Jets next Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

Forget the hype, this is a game that has plenty of meaning as it could potentially decide who wins the AFC East, and at this rate – should New England continue to play well – could even be the difference between a first round bye along with deciding home field.  It’s a game they need to get, and everything that will go along with it this week will simply add a little flavor to what should be an interesting rematch.

Ian Rapoport has an article this morning on the fact that the Patriots are about to embark on a key stretch drive that starts with the Jets, and points out that in Belichick’s 11 years, his teams boast a record of 131-87 before Thanksgiving (60 percent). In games following the holiday, he is 41-12 (76.4 percent).  Rapoport also points out that the combined post Thanksgiving records of the Super Bowl years is 15-1.

Rich Garven of the Worcester Telegram also writes this morning that this is “crunch time” for the Patriots, and writes that this is the time where the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders.

“I think it’s just obvious that there are fewer games,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said yesterday during a conference call. “A lot of teams are packed closely together, whether it be in division races or overall records, and there aren’t many games left. So each game becomes more important, more critical and has more influence in the final standings. I think that’s obvious.
 
“We just go into it with that kind of emphasis. Right now, you just want to be in good position where you are still in contention.”

Bob Glauber of Newsday had an article syndicated by the Boston Herald this morning on the fact that head coach Bill Belichick was talking up the Jets quite a bit during a conference call yesterday with the media. 

“The Jets are really an impressive team to watch,” Belichick told reporters. “It’s easy to see why they have the best record in the league. They do a great job at everything. Their return game is good. Their kicking and coverage teams are good. Offensively, they can run it; they can throw it. They’ve got big-play receivers, production out of the tight ends, (LaDainian) Tomlinson is the leading receiver, a lot of production out of the backs. They’re doing a good job with the offensive line, mixing some personnel groups in there. They give you a lot to get ready for, and of course defensively, they’re a good coverage team, good pressure team, strong against the run, good situational team.”

Shalise Manza Young of the Globe also reported that when asked by the media about the situation going on out in Denver regarding “SpyGate II”, Belichick wouldn’t touch the subject.

Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post writes that while the Jets may be underdogs coming into Foxboro next week, head coach Rex Ryan certainly isn’t feeling that way.

“In general court of public opinion, are we the underdog? Absolutely. Do I think we’re the underdog? No, I think we’re going to win,” Ryan said.
 
“When you look at them and see they’re a good team, they’ve got Tom Brady and they’re on a roll. It’s easy to make that pick and say they’re the favorite,” Woody said. “I would say underdogs, but I think we kind of like being in that role.”

If you’re interested in hearing what Rex Ryan had to say yesterday, here is a transcript of his press conference that was posted on the Boston Globe’s website.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has a 10-day series in the works on “reasons to get excited” for the Jets game, with today’s edition focusing on Wes Welker and how he’ll fare against Darrelle Revis Monday night.

Speaking of Revis, NECN has quotes from his interview last night with ESPN’s Chris Berman, where the defensive back predicted a victory for his team.

“A prediction? I gotta represent for the New York Jets,” he said. “We’re gonna win it. We’re confident. We know it’s going to be tough, but we’re just trying to get to 10-2.”

Revis also made a mistake in saying that, “[A win] will mean that we’ve accomplished everything we want this year,” he said.  Yes – I guess that would make sense since the Jets continually say that this game is “their Super Bowl”.

The Herald’s Ian Rapoport also has an article on Revis, and wonders now that Randy Moss is gone, who will he be covering Monday night?

Mike Reiss has a tidbit from ESPNNewYork.com this morning where Jets head coach Rex Ryan talks about the success that his former player, Danny Woodhead, is having here in New England.

“They just run their offense a little different than we do. He’s perfect for what they do. Kevin Faulk had that role for years and was so successful. Danny Woodhead is doing a great job doing that.”

Eric Wilbur of the Boston Globe has an article this morning about the fact he’s tired of the subject of Tom Brady’s hair, bringing out a Dr. Suess “Sam-I-Am” quote and writing, “I do not, could not, will not care. I do not care about Tom Brady’s hair.”

 Monique Walker of the Boston Globe has an article this morning on the fact that defensive lineman Gerard Warren is trying to help all of the first year players avoid the “rookie wall”, which veterans also warned him about during his first year in the NFL.

“They were talking about that when I first came into the league,’’ Warren said. “If I recall, the second half of the season I made my biggest improvement my rookie year. For that to take place, the rookie wall couldn’t take effect, right? So I don’t believe in it.’’

Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe has his “On Football” column this morning, and writes that it’s going to be the development of their defense over these final weeks that will decide how much of a chance they stand to compete in the postseason.

Instead Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald feels that the best defense for the Patriots is going to be Tom Brady on offense, who will decide just how far they go during the remainder of the season.

That’s it for this morning.  Due to a work schedule conflict today’s “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” is going to get moved back one day to tomorrow morning, so you’ll see that following the headlines.