The Patriots continue their quest for home-field advantage when they take on the Buffalo Bills during today’s contest. New England handily defeated the Bills in Week 13 when they met at Orchard Park.
Here are a few things to look at before today’s game.
1. Tom Brady’s performance
TB12 has not been his usual self the last few weeks, as he has notably struggled in recent games. Brady has thrown an interception in 4 straight games, which is something he hasn’t done for quite a while. Brady has also been ailed by a shaky offensive line, which has caused him to make some ill-advised throws. However, Brady was at his best in the clutch during last week’s game in Pittsburgh, when he led the Patriots to a hard-fought 27-24 victory. Brady will have a chance to exact some revenge on a Buffalo squad that tormented him 3 weeks ago.
Let’s hope that Brady is not distracted by the situation involving Bill Belichick and Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero, as TB12’s interactions with the media have shown that it is a sensitive topic for the quarterback.
2. Impact of injuries
At this point in the NFL season, most teams deal with a multitude of injuries suffered by their players. The Patriots are no different, as several of their players have sustained injuries that have kept them out of their recent contests. Key contributors on offense such as Chris Hogan (shoulder), Rex Burkhead (knee), and James White (ankle) are not expected to play today, which will put a heavy burden on the team’s other backs and receivers. The Pats may also play without starting left tackle Nate Solder (illness), which is an alarming sign due to the offensive line’s recent struggles. The defense could be bolstered by the return of Kyle Van Noy, who has missed the last few games with a calf injury. To be successful the Patriots will need their other players to step up in the absence of several of their chief contributors.
3. Gronk and the Bills
Rob Gronkowski made a bone-headed decision against the Bills in Week 13, when he decided to lunge himself at Buffalo CB Tre’Davious White, when the latter was sprawled on the field. This move drew the ire of both the NFL, who chose to suspend Gronk for one game. Gronk’s actions also angered the Buffalo defense who promised retaliation. Gronk was the hero during last week’s emotional win at Pittsburgh, and he will need to retain his composure even if Buffalo’s players do decide to take cheap shots on him.
I expect the Patriots to pull out a hard-fought win against a motivated Buffalo team that is trying to make the playoffs. Look for Brady and Gronk to continue where they left off in Pittsburgh, as the duo will make enough plays for the Patriots to put the Bills away.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Bills 14