Deion Branch wasn't around when the Jets and Patriots squared off Sept. 19.
The wideout was still in Seattle, still waiting to be traded back to the Patriots after spending four-plus seasons with the Seahawks. But Branch is back now, having been acquired on Oct. 11 to help fill the void caused by the trading of Randy Moss, and the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP is no stranger to the Jets-Patriots rivalry after suiting up for New England in his first four seasons.
"It’s probably one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL," Branch said today. "I’m looking forward to it and I know the guys on the teams are looking forward to it. I think the biggest thing for us is to stay focused and not get involved with all the hoopla and the outside things that are going on leading up to this game.
"I mean, we've got five, six more days before the game and this stuff started last week. So, the game will be here pretty fast and somebody is gonna win the game. That's the only thing that we both know. The Jets and the Patriots know at the end of the day, somebody will be 10-2 and somebody will be 9-3."
Branch seems just as pumped as everyone else for what's being built up to be "Armaggedon," but was also quick to caution the loser of Monday's contest at Gillette Stadium isn't exactly going to be eliminated from playoff contention.
"The stage is set for this game, two teams coming in undefeated -- one on the road, one is undefeated at home, 'Monday Night Football,' I think the rivalry speaks for itself," he said. "This is a big game, don’t get me wrong. But I think the thing is, whatever the outcome of this game is, it doesn't tell what the outcome of the season may hold. We still have four games left on our schedule that will be pretty tough for both of us.
"I think the biggest thing is, there will be a lot of hype on the game and it should be. But this one game isn’t going to determine the outcome of the entire season, you get what I’m saying? This game is very important, though, and I hope we go out and get the job done, and execute our plays and we come out victorious over them."