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Patriots hold their fate in own hands

The time is now for the New England Patriots. With two games left in the regular season, the Pats are looking to clinch the division, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The time is now for the New England Patriots.

With two games left in the regular season, the Pats are looking to clinch the division, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Win on Sunday, and it’s all theirs.

Lose, and it could get interesting in Week 17 against the Dolphins. Although the Fins are just 7-7 on the season, six of those wins have come on the road. If the Pats don’t take care of business at Buffalo, it won’t get any easier the week after.

The Bills will bring it — a win would be the highlight of their awful year.

“This game also means everything to us,” Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington said. “It’s the division. This is what we worked for all season long.

“We’re going to put everything into this week. You know, preparation; we’re going to come out and hopefully execute better than we did last time we were on the field, speaking defensively.”

The Patriots are in a position they haven’t been in since 2007, when they went 16-0 in the regular season. They missed the playoffs in 2008, despite an 11-5 record, and their home-field advantage wasn’t much of one last season, when they fell in the wild card game at home against Baltimore.

“It’s a division game, first and foremost, so we know the magnitude of the game,” linebacker Jerod Mayo said. “We need it. We’re fighting for home-field advantage, for a bye week. We’re preparing hard this week so hopefully we go out there and play well.”

And it’s not entirely up to them.

“I think any team wants to control their own fate,” tight end Alge Crumpler said. “That’s what we talk about. And now we’ve put ourselves in this position. I mean, that’s a good thing.

“Getting this win would be great.”

Connolly the AFC’s most special

Patriots OL Dan Connolly has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his bumbling, stumbling 71-yard kickoff return against Green Bay. “He found some open space, picked up a couple blocks and turned it into a big play,” Bill Belichick said. “That’s preparation meets opportunity. He delivered.”

 
 
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