FOXBORO -- Chances are, Bill Belichick won't tell you what he tells his team, leading into Sunday's game in Miami.
But in the "Patriot Way" era, in which the only realistic goal seems to be "Super Bowl or bust," a division title is one step towards reaching that goal. And if you were to believe Belichick, you'd think the idea of Sunday being a "hat & t-shirt" game, was nothing more than the elephant in the room.
Preparing like they do each week. Nobody's talking about hats or t-shirts. It's just like any other game.
Not true. And neither is the notion that Belichick isn't emphasizing the importance of what they can leave Miami with: an AFC East Championship.
"It's a huge week for us," said the more outspoken Rob Ninkovich after Friday's practice. "We all know that. And we're excited to go play this game. I think it's that much more of a motivational game for us, to go to Miami, play a good team on the road, and come back with a hat and t-shirt.
"Belichick just emphasizes the importance of this game, to obviously sure-up the division," added Ninkovich. "And we'll talk about that if we win, but anytime you're going into a week where you know that you can win the division, you just put a lot of emphasis on making sure you go down there as a business trip. We're going down there to win the game."