The New England Patriots had to close the book on their Week 10 win over the Cleveland Browns immediately. When the final whistle was blown on their 45-7 blowout victory, the next game on their schedule was only 100 hours away.
With the process sped up compared to a normal week, the turnaround had to be a fast one for the team. Head coach Bill Belichick already reminded his men of that fact in the locker room after the Browns game, claiming that it would already be Wednesday night relative to a normal Sunday-to-Sunday schedule.
Playing on Thursday is obviously a challenge for all involved, but not one every player is eager to tackle.
“I mean, quite frankly, it sucks to play Sunday then have to play again Thursday,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty on Tuesday. “But you push through and you look at the next break that you’re going to get is a 10-day break. You just have to push through mentally and continue to tell yourself that and go out there and try to play a good game.”
The Patriots started their preparations for the Atlanta Falcons immediately after Sunday’s game, with the first practice being held on Tuesday. New England then conducted a light walkthrough on Wednesday morning before traveling to Georgia later that same day.
Usually, the team would hold full practices three times per week. Playing on Thursday night, however, does not allow for such a schedule — thus challenging the rhythm the players and coaches have built over the last few weeks.
The Falcons are obviously in the same boat, which makes the upcoming meeting a battle of who can best adapt to the circumstances.
“The thing about it is, it’s two teams going through the same thing,” said McCourty. “It’ll come down to who out-prepares each other, who can recover better. All of those little things in a short amount of time will play a big factor come Thursday Night.”