By Danny Picard
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.
"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