On Friday morning, Bill Belichick wasn't having any talk of a possible cold-weather advantage this weekend. On Friday afternoon, Tom Brady sounded like a guy who welcomed the edge that chilly temps might provide against a team from Southern California like the Chargers.
“I just think the ability to practice in it like today. It’s very similar to what we’re going to get on Sunday so just knowing again, how many layers you’ve got to put on and how you’re going to feel,” Brady said. “We didn’t have the nice, warm heated benches out there like we will on Sunday. It’s cold and that’s just part of this time of year.
“But it’s good to be playing when it’s cold out. It’s good to be playing this time of year in Foxborough. The weather changed a little bit yesterday. It snowed at the start and then got sunny and then got cloudy, then got windy, then got sunny and it’s just a bunch of different things. Just to practice in it, we’re prepared for it and hopefully, we can use some of the things we’ve learned to our advantage.”
For what it's worth, according to weather.com, it certainly looks like the conditions will favor New England. Here's a look at what to expect in Foxborough the next few days:
For the record, the Patriots have played in 12 home playoff games where the temperature is under 30 degrees since 2001. In those games, New England is 10-2.
Here are a few more highlights of Brady's Q&A with the media on Friday:
When you think about past matchups with Philip Rivers, what stands out to you from those games over the years?
"He’s a great player and they’ve had a lot of great teams in San Diego over the years led by him. He’s just a great passer, tough, very accurate. He’s a great leader so when I think about that team, it’s just – he’s an emotional leader and he always gets those guys going. They always have a good offense. It’s a good team. Obviously, they’re good in all three phases and they’ve won a lot of games this year, gone on the road a bunch so they’re very mentally tough and it’s going to take our best to win."
Teams that have had success against you guys in the postseason have gotten pressure off the edge. How concerned are you with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa there and is there an extra emphasis on those guys?
"Yeah, they’re great players and any time you’ve got two pass-rushers, it makes it tough to stop for an offense because you give attention to one guy, the other guy’s got kind of a free pass. So it’s tough and I think that’s why they’re one of the best defenses in the league because they’ve got guys that rush and any time you can play that style, the ball comes out faster than an offense would like it to. I think those guys really play hard on defense. They have a good interior rush, obviously a good edge rush, very instinctive players in the secondary, very good safeties, good corners. It’s a very good defense."
You and Philip Rivers have set the record for being the two oldest quarterbacks in a postseason game.
"Nice. Nice and old."
You’re a combined 78 years and 198 days old. It actually breaks a record that you and Peyton Manning had. What’s your reaction to setting another age record?
"That’s a pretty good one right there. That’s pretty cool. It’s just fun to be around – I’m out there today practicing and it’s whatever degrees out – 10 degrees, 15 degrees and I’m sitting here just playing with my friends, throwing the football around. I think it’s just a great blessing to be able to do it and do it here for this team, which I’ve loved to do. Philip [River]’s been on the same team – it means a lot. We all work hard to get to this point. These things aren’t guaranteed, very tough to get to this point in the season. Every team four months ago thought they’d be playing in these games. The reality is, that’s not the way the NFL is, so we’re very fortunate and we’ve got to go out and try to take advantage of it."
The Chargers use a lot of defensive backs on the field. Do you enjoy that challenge of going up against so many defensive backs and trying to find the open man?
"Yeah, they’re good pass-players and I think that any time you get a lot of DBs out there on the field, you’ve got to be cognizant because they cover more ground than some bigger linebackers. They’ve had some injuries at linebacker this year and I think they like playing with those guys anyway. They’re good players. They’re very instinctive. They obviously know what they’re doing. I think any time you go into the game they had last week, you don’t know if that’s going be your last game of the year, you put your best out there and they obviously went with what they thought was best, putting a lot of DBs on the field. We’ve talked about a lot of different scenarios and we’re prepared. It’s a big challenge either way. I think they’re a very good defense, very good scheme, very good players, very well-coached. They don’t give you anything easy so we’re going to have to go out and earn it."
What’s your confidence in the state of the offense and where things are right now?
"This is the time of year we’ve got to go out and be at our best. It all comes down to this. It’s a production-based league and regardless of what’s happened to this point, it’s about winning this game. If you don’t play great, really in all three phases – any time you play good teams, you can’t expect one phase of your team to carry you. It’s got to be a great complementary game. We’re playing against a team that’s played as well as any team all season. We want to go out and play well as an offense. Our defense has to play well. We have to play well in the kicking game. Everybody’s kind of at the point of attack."
According to those in attendance, the Patriots had everyone at the start of practice on Friday. Turns out the only player who was limited in the last practice of the week was defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, who has been dealing with an ankle injury. (He's questionable heading into Sunday's game.) The good news for New England is the fact veterans Devin McCourty (head) and Cordarrelle Patterson (knee), both of whom were banged up late in the regular season, appear to be good to go this weekend.
As for the Chargers, Melvin Gordon remains the biggest wild-card. He was removed from the injury report on Friday, but he's had knee issues for a sizable portion of the second half of the season. The feeling is he will be able to play, but it remains to be seen just how effective he might be able to come Sunday.