FOXBORO -- All eyes will be on J.J. Watt Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Watt didn't have the game he would have liked to have the last time these two teams faced each other in December. And the Patriots realize he'll be hungry for another shot in the playoffs.
"Hes a force on every play," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday. "That guy can, no matter what play you have called, he can ruin it. Hes good at the point of attack. He makes a lot of plays on the backside, disrupts the ball, strip-sacks, fumbles, caused fumbles, batted balls. Hes an excellent pass rusher, hes quick, hes powerful, hes very long, he has good technique, gets off on the ball well. Hes a tough matchup against really anybody. He runs games well. He has a lot of ability, hes well coached and he has good technique. He plays hard. Like I said, hes really a factor on every play."
So how do you contain him twice in one season?
"I dont know how you can put more than one guy on him very often," said Belichick. "You have to block the other guys too. You have to block Antonio Smith, you have to block Shaun Cody, you have to block Brooks Reed, you have to block Connor Barwin, you have to block Bradie James. Who is blocking them? Somebody has to block them. You cant put three guys on Watt and cut everybody else loose. I dont think thats the answer. Whoever has to block him has to block him.
"But I think the way that they play, hell get matched up against everybody sooner or later -- the right tackle, the right guard, the center, the left guard, the left tackle. Weve watched a lot of their games. Ive seen everybody have to block him -- tight ends at times depending on what the play is or the protection. They stunt him a lot. He might line up on one side of the ball, but hell twist to the other side on certain calls, certain plays. I think everybody has to be ready for him."
Even the running backs.
"J.J. Watt's an exceptional player," said Patriots running back Stevan Ridley. "And we have to have some hats on him every down, every play, throughout the game, because he's a playmaker. And so, for us, if it's coming out of the backfield, catching him on the way out, running routes, whatever we have to do. We've got to get away from him, put two hats on him, make sure he's blocked, make sure he's covered up. Because he's the leader of their defense. If he gets momentum, we're going to have trouble on that.
"I might have to put a hat on him, man," added Ridley. "I mean, he's going to be causing chaos out there. But I have faith in our offensive line. They're going to do a great job. Buy hey, if they need us to help, that's what a team's for. We'll come through.