Three things to watch as the Patriots host the Bills this Sunday (1 p.m., CBS):
Pats pass attack
All you have to do is look at the Patriots’ last game against the Bills earlier this season – a 52-28 win – to know one thing: points won’t be hard to come by for New England. The Bills made the biggest offseason splash by reeling in prolific pass rusher Mario Williams, but going into this game, he’s been horrific more than prolific. On the year, Williams has 23 tackles and just 4.5 sacks. Of course, you’ve always got to be aware of him, but it only helps the Patriots that they’ve already gone up the Bills’ defensive line this season and had major success. Look for another air assault by Tom Brady on Sunday. This one shouldn’t be close.
Buffalo out of options
This might sound crazy, but it’s in New England’s best interest to make Buffalo throw it on Sunday. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a complete slouch, but this has been a down year for him. On one hand, he threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns against New England last game. On the other, he threw four interceptions as well. And that’s the only game this season he’s thrown more than 240 yards. If Buffalo is to win this thing, it’ll be on the ground with running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Unfortunately for them, again, New England’s rush defense is top 10 in the NFL.
The Patriots have eight games remaining on their regular season schedule, five of them at home. The Patriots are 69-14 since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, so that bodes well for them. But the Pats were beating up on the Bills in Foxboro even before then. The last time the Bills beat the Patriots in New England, the date was Nov.5, 2000 – yup, more than 12 years ago. The home crowd will be treated with what everybody thinks will be a healthy Aaron Hernandez, who didn’t make the trip to London and had an extra week off with the bye. With Hernandez in the mix, the Patriots should provide plenty for their fans to cheer about. Hey, there’s always next year, Buffalo.