Patriots prepare for Irene before going to Detroit

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Patriots prepare for Irene before going to Detroit

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO Earlier this week, parts of New England felt the rippling effects of an earthquake that measured 5.8 on the Richter scale.

Now comes Hurricane Irene, which is expected to pound the East Coast sometime this weekend.

Even though the New England Patriots will play at Detroit on Saturday, Hurricane Irene is still a major concern in terms of its potential impact on when the team leaves as well as when it returns.

"It sounds like we'll be out before it comes in," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "Hopefully we'll be in before it comes in. But definitely we have to keep an eye on it and kind of batten down the hatches."

The Patriots are scheduled to leave for Detroit on Friday and return after the game Saturday night.

Hurricane Irene is considered a Category 3 Hurricane with sustained winds between 111-130 miles per hour that have ravaged the Bahamas and are expected to impact a number of major cities on the East coast -- including Boston.

By the time it hits New England on Saturday, Hurricane Irene is expected to be a Category 1 or 2 storm with sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour.

The impact of Hurricane Irene can already be felt in Foxboro.

Country music star Kenny Chesney was scheduled to perform at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. However, hurricane concerns led to Chesney's concert being moved up to Friday.

The decision makes a lot of sense, especially after bad weather recently led to deaths and serious injuries at the Belgium Pukkelpop Festival and the Indiana State Fair.

"Our first and foremost priority is the fans' safety, so we have made the difficult decision to reschedule the show," promoter Louis Messina of TMGAEG Live said on Chesney's website.

Chesney added on his site, "I want the last weekend of the 'Goin Coastal' Tour to be a great experience for everybody. But I also want it to be the safest experience for everyone. I've always said Foxboro is a highlight of our tour, because the fans are ready for a great night of music and fun no matter what night it is!"

But moving the concert to Friday presents a potential problem for the Patriots, one that might become an even bigger issue than Hurricane Irene.

"It looks like that's a potential issue," Belichick said. "We're going to hit a little traffic coming out of here on that one. Hopefully we can maneuver through it."

New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch is more concerned about the weather's impact on his family and the families of his teammates.

"And then trying to get back once the game is over," Branch said. "Those are things we think about; most importantly, family and stuff. We'll make sure we have everything set up before we leave."

New England defensive end Andre Carter spent is first five seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers (the last five in Washington), so he has seen his share of severe weather conditions such the earthquake earlier this week that was felt throughout parts of New England.

"That was different," Carter said of the earthquake. "It's kind of scary. To hear of an earthquake on the East coast, is definitely uncommon."

Fortunately for the Patriots, the Lions play on dome-covered Ford Field so weather conditions won't be a factor during the game.

"It is what it is," said Carter, a San Jose, Calif. native who starred at Cal. "Sleet, snow, rain or shine, you have to prepare your mind for a physical game. The majority of us, especially vets have been through all types of weather. This is just football. You have to play against the elements."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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

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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.