New England Patriots

Julian Edelman speaks to reporters on Dec. 27, 2019 in Foxboro, Mass. (Matt Dolloff/WBZ-FM)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots’ win over the Bills last Saturday felt like a classic New England playoff thrill ride. That’s because the teams treated the game like it was January. And that came to fruition for Julian Edelman when the reigning Super Bowl MVP delivered some big plays in crucial moments.

Edelman has activated playoff mode for the Patriots’ stretch run, with a first-round bye in the team’s sights and a win over the 4-11 Dolphins likely needed to clinch it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Edelman has flipped the proverbial switch. Instead he’s kept the same core approach with every detail that goes into preparing for a game, just with a higher level of focus and intensity.

“I don’t know if it changes, but it’s just – there’s a little more at stake,” said Edelman. “You sit back and you do a little extra this, a couple extra that, and you cross the t’s and dot the i’s and go from there.”

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 21: Micah Hyde #23 of the Buffalo Bills tackles Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 21: Micah Hyde #23 of the Buffalo Bills tackles Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Edelman needs just 16 receiving yards on Sunday to set a new career-high for yards in a season. He’s up to 1,091 through 15 games. He can also set new single-season marks for his career with nine catches and/or two touchdowns against Miami.

He has been banged up, despite not missing a game this year. Knee and shoulder injuries visibly slowed him in Week 15 against the Bengals. But he looked more like vintage playoff Edelman against Buffalo when he made a clutch 30-yard catch-and-run and two-point conversion on the Patriots’ go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

Playoff mode activated? We’ll take the Buffalo game as a yes. The real explanation is that Edelman doing what he always does, and just kicking it all up the ol’ notch-aroo. An explosive, dependable, and reasonably healthy Edelman would once again make the Patriots hard to kill when the playoffs arrive.

Ask Edelman and they already have.

“I mean, it’s essentially a playoff game for us,” said Edelman. “If we win, we skip a round, so that’s how I’m personally treating it, and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of these next 48 hours to prepare and get my mind right to go out and try to play my best game.”

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.