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Sputtering Patriots' offense should have different look in playoffs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' offense aren’t entering the playoffs on a high note, but help is on the way. That’s why some of the struggles the unit had in Sunday’s 26-6 victory over the New York Jets at frigid Gillette Stadium won’t necessarily carry into the postseason.

Running backs James White (ankle) and Rex Burkhead (knee) will benefit from another week of rest. So, too, should receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder). All three didn't play Sunday.

There’s also a chance that receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who was so clutch in the second half of Super Bowl LI, could return off injured reserve.

What the Patriots’ attack looks like on Jan. 13 in the divisional round should be significantly different in certain areas.

“If those guys are able to get out there and play, I think anytime you get good players healthy, it helps a lot,” Brady said. “So there’s a lot of guys, like Brandin Cooks, Danny [Amendola], they played a lot of football this year and have been out there for a lot of snaps. Dion Lewis has. So if guys can kind of take some snaps off, I think throughout the week of practice and the games, I think that really pays off.

“It’s got to be more than just two or three guys doing it. If we can get five or six guys healthy and everyone plays a role, then that’s going to be great for the offense.”

Along those lines, tight end Rob Gronkowski surely won’t go through the next game without being targeted once, like he was against the Jets, even if the opponent is devoting multiple players to cover him.

Whether it’s the No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs, No. 5 Tennessee Titans or No. 6 Buffalo Bills, Brady seems confident that the Patriots’ offense will respond.

“It’s going to be a different defense, different plan, and we’ve just got to get going and execute better,” he said. “I think we can do that.”

But first, they’ll get some time to recover. Players are off Monday and Tuesday before returning for work on Wednesday and Thursday. That’s why the bye week was deemed so important for this team.

“Being able to come here and get in some good work, get some rest and get some guys back, I think it will be huge,” said Cooks, who qualified for the playoffs for the first time in his four-year career.

“We’ve got some work to do. We are not where we want to be, and that’s what practice is for. The great thing about it is we’ve got one more chance to be able to go out there and play our best.”