Fearless Prediction: Patriots-Bills

Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SURFACE: Artificial turf

TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Patriots’ biggest weakness is in their

secondary, but Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for a combined

184 yards the past two weeks. Buffalo wants to control time of

possession through RBs Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, but

Fitzpatrick has to make a few plays down the field for Buffalo to

keep pace. The Patriots remain very pass-heavy, but QB Tom Brady

does need to be careful as the Bills have 25 interceptions and

rookie FS Jairus Byrd, who leads the team with nine, was not a

starter in New England’s 25-24 Week 1 victory.

FAST FACTS: The Patriots have won the past 12 meetings and

17 of the past 18. … Bills WR Terrell Owens needs four receptions

to reach 1,000 for his career.

Personnel News

Patriots:

  • QB Tom Brady was back at practice, albeit in a limited

    capacity, despite battling nagging finger, shoulder and rib

    injuries. There’s no doubt Brady will be ready to play Sunday.

     

  • OL Stephen Neal is now battling an ankle injury and

    participated in only portions of practice. He missed a series of

    games with a head injury but shouldn’t be out much longer.

     

  • NT Vince Wilfork has not practiced this week because of a

    foot injury and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be available this

    weekend in Buffalo. He’ll most likely be a game-time decision.

     

  • DE Ty Warren hasn’t practiced all week while battling an

    ankle injury. There’s a good chance Warren will be sidelined

    Sunday.

     

  • WR Sam Aiken has been limited in practice this week with a

    shoulder injury. Although he didn’t play last week, there’s a

    good chance he’ll make his return Sunday.

     

Bills:

  • OG Richie Incognito, a five-year veteran out of Nebraska with

    44 career starts for St. Louis, was claimed off waivers and

    signed to a contract. Buffalo’s depth was critically low and the

    team was desperate for someone with experience that could start

    in an emergency. Incognito has a long history of anger issues and

    got into a shouting match with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo last

    Sunday after getting flagged for two personal foul calls.

     

  • TE Joe Klopfenstein was waived. The move makes room for OG

    Richie Incognito, who was claimed off waivers after being

    released by the St. Louis Rams.

     

  • OT Jonathan Scott is dealing with an eye injury suffered in

    last week’s win over Kansas City. He has been limited in practice

    but coach Perry Fewell remains optimistic Scott would be

    available to play Sunday at home against New England.

     

  • WR Terrell Owens remains four catches shy of 1,000 for his

    career and hopes to get them Sunday when the Bills face New

    England at home. The Patriots held him to two catches for 46

    yards in their one-point win over Buffalo in September. Their

    pass defense ranks 14th in the league.

     

  • RB Marshawn Lynch, who has rounded into form the past two

    weeks with long runs, will be a key part in Sunday’s game plan

    against New England. The forecast calls for snow and the Bills

    hope to run the ball against a Patriots defense dealing with

    injuries to top defensive linemen Vince Wilfork (foot) and Ty

    Warren (ankle), who should play but will be less than 100

    percent.

     

Inside The Camps

Patriots:

There are several reasons the New England Patriots should

win convincingly Sunday in what would be their most impressive —

and perhaps first legitimate — road win of the season.

Aside from the obvious, such as the fact they are a superior

team to Buffalo, the real reason lies in the weather forecast for

what is expected to be a frigid afternoon in Orchard Park, N.Y.

This, for all intents and purposes, is New England Patriots

weather. Since Bill Belichick took over in 2001, they’ve played

their best when it counts the most in November and December. The

Patriots have traditionally been a strong second-half team, proving

that less-than-favorable weather does not deter their spirit in any

way whatsoever.

With that said, it’s been an exceptionally cold week in

Foxboro, so the Patriots have had the ultimate preparation for the

conditions they’ll face when they travel to face the pesky Buffalo

Bills. Teams that aren’t acclimated to this weather would dread

practice this week. The Patriots, on the other hand, welcome it

with open arms.

“It helps to get us out in the elements so it’s not like

it’s the first time we’re dealing with it because the ball does

come off your foot a little bit different when it’s cold and you

have to deal with the wind and stuff like that,” Patriots punter

Chris Hanson said.

This is a topic Hanson is familiar with since he’s punted in

miserable conditions in the past, particularly at Foxboro. Last

year, the Patriots played in horrid weather at Buffalo with wind

gusts up to 60 mph and managed to escape with a win.

“I wasn’t there last year,” quarterback Tom Brady said, “but

I heard about the weather conditions that were pretty unbelievable

— 70, or 80 mph winds. I don’t know if that was true or not —

that’s what they’re all telling me — but it’s always pretty tough

up there.”

The Bills plan on making it another tough weekend, and

that’s certainly not an understatement considering the Patriots

have played so poorly on the road this season, but at least there

won’t be any disparity based on weather.

Bills:

The Bills’ level of desperation on the offensive line

reached a new high with the claiming of Rams bad-boy offensive

guard Richie Incognito off waivers. After passing a physical

Thursday, the five-year veteran signed a contract.

Buffalo’s injury woes on their line have been

well-documented, leading to the use of seven combinations. Poor

play up front has contributed mightily to the team’s 5-8 record

heading into Sunday’s home against New England.

With guard Kendall Simmons questionable with a sore shoulder

and tackle Jonathan Scott dealing with an eye injury, Buffalo

reevaluated its depth and decided it needed another body. Christian

Gaddis had been the only healthy reserve until the signing of

Incognito.

The move instantly sparked controversy. The 6-3, 324-pound

Incognito, who has 44 career starts, is regarded as the dirtiest

player in the NFL according to a recent poll with numerous personal

foul penalties to his discredit.

The Rams cut Incognito after he was flagged for two personal

fouls in last Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, then got into a shouting

match with coach Steve Spagnuolo. He had two personal fouls in St.

Louis’ season opener as well.

Buffalo linebacker Kawika Mitchell, sidelined for the year

with a knee injury and known to pass his time on Twitter, blasted

this tweet after the news that Incognito was now his teammate: “The

biggest disappointment this year. The guy’s a bum. Dirty and always

will be. Really wish I was playin’ right now. Seriously. I know

we’re in need of offensive line (help). But this guy (stinks).”

Mitchell recanted his public comments later, saying: “I said

what I said ’bout ‘Iggy’ and it’s over. Everything else will be

handled in house. We’ve had our moments before when KC played St.

L. I was wrong for startin’ somthin.'”

Miami also put a claim in for Incognito but the Bills got

first crack at him because of their poorer record.

A former third-round pick out of Nebraska in 2005, Incognito

started 15 games last year and nine this year for the 1-12 Rams,

missing four starts with a foot sprain.

PREDICTION: Patriots 24-16