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Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots Preview and Predictions 12-21-2019
The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills are both in the postseason but there still is plenty at stake when the AFC East rivals square off Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. New England, which clinched a record 11th consecutive trip to the playoffs last week, can wrap up the division title and has a chance to earn a first-round bye against visiting Buffalo.
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Seeking their 11th AFC East crown in a row, the Patriots have dominated the series against the Bills by winning six in a row and 34 of 39 following a hard-fought 16-10 victory in Buffalo in Week 4. "This is the best defense that we play, and the challenge is incredible," New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said of the Bills. "We've gotten to see them once this year, and now we have another opportunity to prepare and play an incredibly important game to our season this week." Winners of four of its last five, including road victories at Dallas and Pittsburgh, Buffalo holds a two-game edge for the fifth seed in the AFC and still has a shot at the division title with two wins and two losses by New England. "When we came to Buffalo, one of the things we wanted to do was to challenge and to do it every year," coach Sean McDermott said. "We have a great amount of respect for the Patriots. Very well-coached team, disciplined football team, with a lot of talent and so, it's an opportunity for us to continue to compete and to take another step as a football team."
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Patriots -6.5 O/U: 37.5
ABOUT THE BILLS (10-4): Buffalo's defense has played as well, if not better, than any team over the past month by limiting three of four opponents to 15 points or fewer to rank second behind New England with 15.9 points allowed and third overall with 291.9 yards surrendered. Cornerback Tre'Davious White was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time after recording two interceptions, two passes defended and four tackles at Pittsburgh. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen threw for a touchdown and ran for another last week but was picked off three times by New England in September. Allen's favorite target is John Brown, who went over 1,000 yards last week, while rookie Devin Singletary leads the ground game.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (11-3): New England eased to a 34-13 win at woeful Cincinnati as former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, had a pick-6 among his two interceptions. The Patriots' defense leads the league in interceptions (25) along with points (12.9) and yards allowed (268.4), but the struggles on the other side of the ball can be best exemplified by the fact that not one offensive player was named to the Pro Bowl. Tom Brady set an NFL record with his 17th straight season of at least 20 touchdown passes, but he threw for just 128 yards last week and was limited to 150 yards and an interception in Buffalo. New England rushed for 175 yards last week but managed only 74 in Week 4.
1. Patriots RB Sony Michel rushed for 63 yards in Buffalo and had 116 yards and a score versus the Bills in December 2018.
2. Brown has 26 catches for 412 yards and four scores in his last four versus AFC East foes.
3. New England can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a loss or tie by Kansas City at Chicago.
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Key Players to Watch
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New England Patriots
- PersonalQues Sun | questionable
White has missed the last two games as he was away from the team due to a death in the family. It is unknown if he will return to the fold against the Chiefs on Sunday.
- AnkleOut indefinitely | I-R
Uche has been ticketed for the injured reserve list with an ankle injury, and it is uncertain when the team will activate him.
- NeckQues Sun | questionable
Keene has been held out of the past three games due to a neck injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Sunday versus the Chiefs.
- FingerQues Sun | questionable
Harris has been activated from the injured reserve list after recovering from surgery on his pinky finger. It has yet to be established if he will face the Chiefs on Sunday.
- QuadricepQues Sun | questionable
Michel is managing a quad injury, and it is unclear if he will line up against the Chiefs on Sunday.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Edelman is expected to suit up against the Chiefs on Sunday despite a knee injury.
- ThumbOut indefinitely | I-R
Andrews has been entered on the injured reserve list while he is mend from surgery to repair a broken thumb on his right hand. There is no timetable for recovery.
- CalfQues Sun | questionable
Wynn has a calf injury, and it has yet to be established if he will be on the field for Sunday's battle with the Raiders.
- FootQues Sun | questionable
Jefferson is bothered by a foot injury, leaving his status for Sunday's clash with the Raiders unclear.
- ToeProb Sun | probable
Moss sat out the last game with a toe injury, but it is likely that he will suit up against the Raiders on Sunday.
- ConcussionProb Sun | probable
Knox missed the last game with a concussion and is going through the league's protocol. It is likely that he will be cleared in time for Sunday's matchup versus the Raiders.
- Lower BodyQues Sun | questionable
Addison exited the last game with a lower-body injury, and it is unclear if he will play against the Raiders on Sunday.
- CalfProb Sun | probable
Brown was forced from the previous game with a calf injury, and his availability for Sunday's contest against the Raiders is likely.
- ShoulderQues Sun | questionable
Dawkins was lifted from the last game with a shoulder injury, and it is unknown if he will line up against the Raiders on Sunday.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Hyde departed the last game due to an ankle injury, and it is uncertain if he will face the Raiders on Sunday.
- ShoulderQues Sun | questionable
Edmunds is managing a shoulder injury, and it remains to be seen if he will dress for Sunday's matchup against the Raiders.