Even with a loss here, the Bills still have a real shot at the playoffs.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (11-3) over Buffalo Bills (8-6)
As resourceful and resilient as the Patriots continue to prove themselves to be, let it not be forgotten that they needed the break of the year (the touchdown reversal at the end) to beat the Steelers. Being just as resourceful and resilient should be good enough against the Bills, who are not laughingstocks lately. They might not break a lot on defense, but Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy should be able to bend them a few times.
Patriots 24, Bills 18
The Bills need a rare win in New England to stay viable in the playoff race. Buffalo actually won big there last year, but that was with Jacoby Brissett starting for Bill Belichick. Tom Brady has only lost to the Bills at home once, in a meaningless Week 17 game three years ago. The Bills should run right at Matt Patricia's defense, which has struggled to stop opposing ground attacks. That said, while New England is 29th in total yards allowed, they're sixth in points yielded. Talk about bending without breaking. At some point, Tyrod Taylor must challenge the Patriots' secondary down the field. Otherwise, Buffalo's hopes rest on playing clock ball. Brady, by the way, has thrown at least one interception in each of the past four games. If he tosses another this weekend, that'll make it five straight (math!), which he hasn't done since 2002. Cool. His team is also 31-4 in December home games since 2001. So there's that.
Patriots 34, Bills 17
MDS's take: The Patriots now control their destiny for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs, and they'll take care of business against the Bills.
MDS's pick: Patriots 30, Bills 17.
Florio's take: The Pats are closing in on the No. 1 seed. And they learned the hard way two years ago the consequences of tripping over division rivals in the final weeks of the season.
Florio's pick: Patriots 31, Bills 17.
This matchup between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills is the Rob Gronkowski revenge game. Gronk had better have his head on a swivel. I don't think the Bills will do anything dirty, but Gronkowski is definitely a marked man.
Buffalo will be looking to hit hard in this game, but the Patriots have the advantage. They're at home, and they desperately need a win to keep the top seed in the AFC. There could be a bit of a letdown after last week's dramatic win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it won't last long.
The Bills don't do enough on the offensive side of the ball to scare the Patriots once they tighten up. Buffalo essentially has three weapons—Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay—and the Patriots should be able to handle them. I like the Bills defense, but the Patriots offense is special. Don't expect this one to be close in the end.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Bills 20
The Bills are playing for the playoffs, with the Patriots playing for seeding. There is more motivation for the Bills, but the Pats are the better team. Tom Brady and the offense have a big day.
Patriots 31, Bills 21
The Patriots haven't been carried by Tom Brady in recent weeks. The running game and receiving corps have battled through some injury hits, and the defense has scraped to keep things in reach of victory. New England is more gritty than pretty now, which is perfect for this time of year. Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy are hot, but they'll be cooled off in this rematch.
Patriots 30, Bills 14