Branch: Monday night doesn't guarantee division

191543.jpg

Branch: Monday night doesn't guarantee division

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Everyone knows what's at stake on Monday night. Both the Patriots and the Jets realize that each team is 9-2, atop the AFC East.

The Patriots, especially, understand the realization that they've already lost once to the Jets this season. So another loss on Monday night would not only give New York a better overall record, but it would give the Jets an advantage in a head-to-head tiebreaker should the teams finish the regular season with the same record.

So home-field advantage in the playoffs is what's at stake. That's what's on the line on Monday night.

Right?

"But what's on the line, though?" asked Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, responding to a reporter's question on Tuesday.

Branch agrees that home-field advantage in the playoffs is one of his team's goals. He just doesn't think it guarantees a Super Bowl. He doesn't even agree that a win on Monday night guarantees the division, with each team having to play four more regular-season games afterwards.

"Right now we're both 9-2," said Branch. "Who's to say what could happen after this game? There'll be four games left. The best thing for us, is to just take what's in front of us now, and try not to look at the next four games . . . There's going to be a lot of stuff at stake after this game, however the outcome turns out.

"With all the pluses that's behind it, the season's still not over," said Branch. "We want to go out and make sure we execute and win this game. That's the goal.

"There's going to be a lot of talk about this game, and who clinches the division. But that's not rightfully true. There's a lot at stake. Yeah, yeah, we want to win this game, but it doesn't mean the season's over or the division is locked up."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

cp-podcast_86.png

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | AudioBoom

2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath

13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell

27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy

32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship

36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences

44:50 Matt Light interview

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.