Fearless Prediction: Patriots-Bills
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
Inside The Camps
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
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
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.
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
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