With the new year dawning, the Patriots will face some difficult personnel decisions in 2013. Here are the five that are first on their plate:



FOXBORO -- Reaffirming his public announcement that he is only interested in the Patriots postesason, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told all teams with coaching vacancies that he is declining all interview requests, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

FOXBORO -- With five NFL coaching vacancies opened before noon on "Black Monday", Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Monday morning that he's perfectly happy with his current job. McDaniels name came up last week as a potential head coaching with the Browns, who fired Pat Shurmur.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick indicated Monday morning that the team will now divide its time over the next few days between taking a chance to do some self-scouting, as well as looking ahead to their next potential playoff opponent.

The Jets fired general manager Mike Tannenbaum on Monday, a day after the team finished the regular season with a 6-10 record. 

However, owner Woody Johnson said following Tannenbaum's firing that the team has no intentions to fire head coach Rex Ryan, who has two years remaining on his contract. 

"I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team," Johnson said of Ryan. 

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I have no idea which team will represent the National Football Conference (though the Seahawks sure look like a really, really tough out) but I know who they'll be facing.

The Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl.



KIRK MINIHANE

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday's 28-0 victory over the Dolphins that clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and a first-round bye.

FOXBORO -- It took 16 regular-season games and 17 weeks of action, but when the clock struck zero on the regular season Sunday night, there was one very clear thing we learned about the AFC: The Patriots and Broncos are the two best teams in the conference.



FOXBORO -- The Patriots will host an AFC divisional round game on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 4:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium, according to the schedule released by the NFL Sunday evening. The game will be on CBS-TV.

The Patriots earned a first-round bye thanks to their 28-0 win over the Dolphins on Sunday in the regular-season finale along with Houston's 28-16 loss in Indianapolis. The Patriots enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, behind the No. 1 Broncos, who finished 13-3.

FOXBORO -- After playing in 24 snaps of the Patriots' 71 offensive plays Sunday, tight end Rob Gronkowski said his left forearm held up well in the Pats' 28-0 win over the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

Gronkowski hadn't played since breaking the forearm in the Patriots' Nov. 18 win over the Colts.