Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. George Wilson vs. Ben Watson –Safety turned LB Bryan Scott will also handle this assignment at times, but Wilson has stepped into the starting lineup and played admirably since midseason. He draws an athletic big man that was largely responsible for the Patriots comeback win over the Bills in Week 1 with a pair of late TD catches.
2. Richie Incognito vs. Jarvis Green –Incognito will make his first start for the Bills just four days after being claimed off waivers and won't always draw Green as a blocking assignment with right tackle Kirk Chambers factoring in as well. Green is the lone healthy starting defensive lineman for the Pats right now and rarely comes out of the game. He had a pair of sacks in the first meeting between to two teams in Week 1.
3. Reggie Corner vs. Wes Welker –Buffalo's second-year slot corner had trouble hanging with Welker as most defensive backs do in the first meeting with Welker pulling in 12 passes for 93 yards. Corner is determined to have a better showing the second time around.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage –Kick return – The multi-faceted Fred Jackson has fared well in his secondary role as the team's kick returner helping to lift Buffalo's ranking to eighth in the league as he has averaged close to 26 yards a return. The Bills return unit provides the offense with the seventh best average drive start in the league. New England's cover teams meanwhile rank a pedestrian 22nd in kick coverage this season.
Best advantage –Takeaways – The Bills lead the league with 25 interceptions and are tied for the league lead for lowest opponent passer rating at 59.8. Buffalo has surrendered the second fewest touchdowns passes in the NFL permitting just 10 and the third fewest pass plays of 25 yards or more this season (15). Tom Brady rarely makes poor throws, but even when the Bills do not record interceptions they get their hands in the passing lanes as they rank seventh in the league with 70 pass breakups on the season.
Bills Number 1 Must
Run game –Buffalo's run game found some life last week rolling up 200 yards on the ground. New England's run defense is not what is used to be and with Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren not 100 percent healthy, Buffalo's tandem of Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch should have respectable success. The two backs must be the chief means by which the Bills move the chains if they're to control time of possession and sustain drives long enough to get into scoring territory.
Road woesThe Patriots may have a respectable record of 8-5, but it's no thanks to any of their road performances this season. New England has not won a single road game, with their neutral site game against Tampa Bay in London serving as their only win this season that did not take place at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have not gone winless on the road since 1981 when they finished 0-8 in what was a 2-14 season.
ClosersBeing one of the most successful teams of the decade the Patriots own one of the best won-loss records in the month of December with an impressive mark of 25-3 good for best in the league since 2003. New England better hope that trend continues in the season's final month of the regular season. With just a one game lead in the division the Patriots already dropped an all important division game to the Dolphins on Dec. 6 (22-21), which has given Miami the all important division tiebreaker for now. New England needs a win over Buffalo to also post a 4-2 record in the division this season.
Nicked up lineThe Patriots do not have the experienced depth they once possessed on their defensive line after Richard Seymour was traded to Oakland at the beginning of the season. Now with Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren nursing foot and ankle injuries and younger, less experienced linebackers starting, New England's run defense and red zone defense have suffered. The Patriots rank 17th against the run giving up almost 110 yards rushing per game and rank 26th in red zone defense. They allow opponents to score touchdowns close to 60 percent of the time after they penetrate the Patriots' 20-yard line.
Coming in hotWes Welker got off to a hot start at the beginning of the season with a 12-catch 93-yard day against the Bills in the Patriots come from behind win in Week 1. After a knee injury briefly sidelined him, Welker hasn't lost much steam. The dynamic slot receiver has 11 straight games with six catches or more. He's coming off a 10-catch 105 yard performance last week against Carolina. He's gone over 100 receiving yards five times this season and if he posts a 10 catch outing against the Bills on Sunday will tie the single-season NFL record for most consecutive games with 10 or more receptions (7) held by Houston's Andre Johnson.
Opposing passersWhile the Bills defense boasts one of the best opponent passer ratings in the league (59.8), the Patriots have found it difficult to stymie opposing passers. New England has allowed opposing passers to complete almost 57 percent of their passes allowing 22 touchdowns through the air and a passer rating of almost 82 (81.8). Those 22 touchdown passes against are just one less than Brady has thrown this season (23).
Quote of the Week"It's been a long time since we beat New England. First game of my career. So it would definitely mean something. Even though there are no playoff implications, it's still a win against the Patriots. It's something that's in the back of our mind no doubt."
--DE Chris Kelsay
Stat of the WeekRB Fred Jackson has set a single-game career high in rushing (136 yards) and a career high in receiving (83 yards) in his last two games against the Patriots. Jackson has averaged 138 yards from scrimmage in his last two outings against New England.
Milestones in reachJairus Byrd (9) needs one interception to tie Billy Atkins (1961) and Tom Janik (1967) for the franchise record for most INTs in a season (10).
Brian Moorman needs 220 punting yards for 30,000 in his career.
Terrell Owens needs four receptions to become the sixth player in NFL history with 1,000 career catches.
Marcus Stroud needs eight tackles for 600 in his career.
Final noteThe Bills will be fielding their eighth different offensive line lineup on Sunday this season.