1 - Both sides treating Sunday like playoff football
Sunday's game is much more meaningful for the Bills than it is the Patriots, considering New England already clinched a playoff berth and Buffalo is on the verge of doing so for the first time since 1999. Regardless, both teams will battle it out as playoff implications are at stake.
The Patriots (11-3) are currently in first place in the AFC and clinched the division in Week 15. If they can pull off a win on Sunday, their path throughout the playoffs will get much easier.
"Well I would say it's just as big of game for us as it is them. It's a playoff-type game. It has playoff implications on both sides," Patriots safety Duron Harmon said. "So we know they're going to come ready but we're going to come ready too because, like I said, we know how important this game is for us."!(https://goo.gl/qiMD1M)
New England can clinch home-field advantage in the playoffs with: a win on Sunday, a Pittsburgh loss, and a Jacksonville loss or tie. They can clinch a first-round bye with: a win on Sunday and a Pittsburgh loss, or a win and a Jacksonville loss.
Meanwhile Buffalo (8-6) is in a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots. If they beat the Pats on Sunday, it clearly enhances their chances of earning an AFC Wild Card spot. If they lose, their chances obviously decrease, but they'll still be alive for the final game of the season in Miami.
The Bills have reeled off back-to-back wins to keep themselves firmly in the playoff picture. Making Sunday's Week 16 matchup Buffalo's biggest road game in quite some time.
"For us, the playoffs started two weeks ago. These are all must-wins," said Richie Incognito. "This is, especially, an important one because they're so good. The New England Patriots, they've had our number for so long. It'd really just be huge for us to go into their house, beat them, keep our hopes alive and just keep winning and get to the playoffs."
Check out photos of the Buffalo Bills, as they prepare to take on the New England Patriots Week 16.
2 - Taylor looking for second-straight win in Foxborough
In Week Four last season, Tyrod Taylor went to New England and beat the Tom Brady-less Patriots 16-0. Brady will be behind center Sunday, but Buffalo will be looking for a similar result.
"It's a great opportunity for us," said Taylor. "When the schedule came out, you knew these last three games of this season were definitely going to be important for our success as a team. That's something that's been marked on our calendar for a while."
Taylor was terrific in last year's win over the Pats. He went 27-for-39 passing for 246 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. If he can play like that, they should be in a good position for victory, considering Buffalo's run game has been clicking on all cylinders.
The Patriots are a divisional rival, so that matchup always holds significance. But this Sunday is different. It's Week 16 football, with playoff hopes on the line, and it's against New England.
"As a team, we understand that opportunity and we embrace it," Taylor said. "We're doing everything we can to prepare as best as we can do to go out and play a great game on Sunday."
3 - Why 4th Pro Bowl is special for Incognito
On Tuesday, Bills guard Richie Incognito was selected to the fourth Pro Bowl of his 11-year career. This time around was extra special for Incognito, as he was voted directly in, opposed to be an alternate like he was the first three times.
"Yeah, it's great going straight in. It's the first time for me, so it's very special," said Incognito. "Usually, it's just a Chinese fire drill at the end of the year, when you find out like a day before and it's like 'hey, 20 people need to go to Hawaii at 7 a.m.' It's like, 'hey, here's my credit card, charge, charge, charge, meet you in Hawaii.' My mom was on an eleven-hour flight from Newark."
Since he was voted straight in, he'll have time to plan for the game on Jan. 28. He's already planning on meeting up with one of the Titans tackles who's on the AFC roster. Of course, he'd have to miss the game if Buffalo was still in the playoffs.
"We have a little time to plan, and it's awesome," Incognito said. "Orlando is fun. I'm going to get to go see some old buddies in Taylor Lewan and a couple of guys, and like [Eric] Wood just said, I hope we're still playing."
Incognito has now been selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017. He joined the Bills in 2015, so he's three-for-three since coming to town.
"Three in a row, yeah, here in Buffalo. It's been a great run," said Incognito. "I've just been surrounded by some great guys: Eric Wood, Tyrod Taylor, Kyle Williams, Shady [LeSean McCoy] - they just keep me humble, keep me grounded and help me be the best version of myself every day."
It's safe to say the Incognito project has been a success in Buffalo. As far as Pro Bowls go, the 34-year-old is getting better with age.
"It's really just been a good fit. Terry and Kim Pegula extended an opportunity for me to establish myself back in the league. When we originally talked about this, we talked about making a positive out of it," Incognito said. "One of the big things was controlling what I can control, being a good teammate, and playing well on the field. I held up my end of the bargain and it's nice to be rewarded."
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