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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Mental test for Pats this week

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After two hyped games against the division-leading Texans and 49ers, both of which were played in prime-time and broadcast nationally, the Patriots face a much different scenario this week.

A trip to face the 2-12 Jaguars is on the schedule, and that's why one might say a primary challenge for players is mentally getting up for a game against an inferior opponent.

The topic was broached Tuesday with coach Bill Belichick on how he addresses weeks like this.

"We don’t talk a lot about records. We just don’t do it – we didn’t talk about Houston’s record or San Francisco’s record or Jacksonville’s record," Belichick answered.

"It doesn’t really mean anything. What we do is we look at our opponent and try to analyze their strengths and the things that we have to do to be competitive against them and the areas of weakness that we feel like we can attack. Whatever their record is doesn’t really matter. Those are against other teams, we didn’t have anything to do with those games. It’s how we match up against them.

"All our preparation and focus will be on what Jacksonville does well, what we need to stop and where we think we may be able to gain some advantages or have opportunities and how we can hopefully exploit those. That’s really the way we approach every game."

That has been a winning approach for the Patriots under Belichick, but as players showed in a mistake-filled performance on Sunday night, they are human too.

It would be understandable if they viewed this game differently than the last two, but Belichick will do his best to hammer home that the Jaguars are still a formidable foe. He said it's the same way he'd do it any week.

"We’ll break down Jacksonville for what they are, the team that they are, and the problems that they present, which are numerous, just like we have everybody else," he relayed. "I think the players won’t have any trouble seeing that. ... I don’t think it will be a problem."