The New England Patriots have a lot at stake today since the victor of tonight's Steelers-Broncos game will be the next opponent. If the Steelers win, the Patriots will host the AFC Championship game; if the Broncos win, the Patriots will have to travel to Denver.
New England has already played both teams this season, with a victory over Pittsburgh, and a loss in Denver. Don't ask anyone on the Patriots which team they'd rather face.
"I won't root," quarterback Tom Brady said. "You're not rooting too hard. I think whatever happens, happens. Whether we play here or whether we play there, you're going to have to play really well. I think that's what it comes down to. So they're two great football teams. We've played them both this year already, and I know it's going to take our best effort to beat them whoever it is."
And that's really the core of next week's game: both potential opponents are good teams. The Broncos have the better defense, while the Steelers have the better offense. The Patriots should be ready to face either team.
"I'm just happy to be playing next week," defensive captain Devin McCourty said. "Whoever we play, like Bill says, it'll be another good football team who has either won one playoff game or two playoff games now. They'll be hungry, they'll be excited, and they'll be just like us - trying to move forward.
"So home, away, I mean, you guys saw the first round of the playoffs. All away teams won, so it doesn't matter. It's all about executing and going out there and playing good football."
Belichick has said out of the gate that he doesn't care which teams the Patriots face in the playoffs, and that mentality has really permeated throughout the locker room. It doesn't matter if the Patriots host the Steelers, or travel to Denver. They have to be ready to win by playing good football.