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BOSTON (CBS) – The CBS Boston sports team makes their predictions for the New England Patriots as they close out the regular season against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette.
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Even though fans have suggested the Patriots should treat this game as a preseason game, there is still something to play for. So it’s important they close the season out with a win. Home field advantage throughout the playoffs can come in very handy on game day.
All the talk is about Tom Brady and his left shoulder injury. Brady didn’t practice a whole lot this week but he was out there. Even though I don’t expect him to play the entire game, with his competitive nature it will be tough to keep him off the field.
Look for backup quarterback Brian Hoyer to share the load; he’s focused every week but he’s on high alert this week against Buffalo.
Some want to make this out to be a revenge game for the Patriots, who got beat by Buffalo back in Week 3, but the Pats are not looking at it that way. They know what’s at stake, they know they control their own destiny, and they also know they have to be smart when it comes to injuries.
Which brings us to Patrick Chung. If Chung is close to 100-percent, he should play. He’s been out two months, and his first game back should not be a playoff game. If he is going to knock the rust off at all, it mine as well be in the final game of the season.
It’s New Years Day, and the Pats New Years resolution should be to go the distance in 2012.
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
I think the Patriots will come away with a victory Sunday, but it may be another tough game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo offense are still capable of putting up some good numbers. CJ Spiller has filled in well for the injured Fred Jackson. And, the Pats will still employ the bend-but-don’t-break-give-up-some-yards-and-points-but-make-enough-plays-defense!
On offense, the reason why the Pats lost in Week 3 in Buffalo is pretty much the reason why the Pats lose any time: Tom Brady. When he has his rare bad game, the Pats lose. Brady threw four picks in that one and they weren’t all his fault.
Brady is the difference-maker as Pas win 35-21 and wrap up the number one seed.
Happy New Year folks!
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
This game means more to the Patriots than the Bills. Buffalo wants to finish strong and have momentum going into next season but that does not concern the here and now.
The Pats have something to play for. They want home field advantage for the entire playoffs. They need to also get their defense some reps. Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes have been missing for weeks. If they are going to play in the post season, they better get a jump on Sunday.
The Patriots, and this is tricky, have to give Tom Brady some rest. His non-throwing shoulder is banged up. He needs time for that to heal.
But most importantly, the Pats need to get confidence that they can come into the play-offs and play on a high level. The last couple post seasons have been disappointing. This has been the focus all season long. Get back to the post season and make some noise. That mission starts against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Pats win big and Tom Brady gets some rest. Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer wow people and the word out there will be about the Patriots back up quarterback situation.
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
There are two things that scare me in this game. Number one, there are people playing for jobs and Buffalo’s going to have a lot of guys out there trying to earn contracts. Number two is stay healthy. Tom Brady’s shoulder is probably fine, but the Pats have to make sure they protect him a lot more than they have the last couple of weeks.
End of the day Patriots clinch this thing, they beat Buffalo 34-17.
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Buffalo is a team that can score. They could give New England some issues right now, but it’s a team that knows they’re playing their season out.
They would like to, but they’re not going to play the spoiler role. Freddy Jackson is out for the year which is a huge disadvantage for Buffalo because I think he is an absolute mismatch for the Patriots defense and creates more problems than C.J. Spiller. Spiller has never turned into the guy we thought he would be.
Gresh & Zo Whiteboard: What Went Wrong In Wk 3?
The Patriots had a 21 point lead up in Buffalo and that’s probably where Brady really messed up throwing the two red zone interceptions. He started forcing the ball to Gronkowski and let them back in the game. There was some misfortune in that Buffalo game, but it’s a much better matchup for the Patriots right now. I like the matchup against the Bills actually better than the prior week against the Dolphins.
Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
The Patriots conclude the regular season Sunday at home against Buffalo, one of the three teams that they have lost to this season. At stake is the top-seed for the AFC playoffs.
Some have suggested that the Patriots post-season road would be smoother if they DON’T win this game but I must disagree. Losing is never a better option. Not playing at home is never preferable.
That said, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is not going to put anyone on the field he deems not healthy enough to play efficiently. That could result in a patchwork offensive line with both Logan Mankins and Matt Light using the time to heal from their respective injuries to be in better shape for the post-season.
Given that Tom Brady is supposedly nursing a bad left shoulder that leaves Patriots’ fans feeling a little queasy, parading The Franchise out there without his top protectors. Even with a healthy Brady, playoff wins have been non-existent of late. If #12 is not under center come playoff time, the odds of this team going anywhere are slim and none. Actually, forget the ‘slim’ and concentrate on the ‘none’.
Ideally, Brady is under center, handing off to whoever is lined up behind him and they are picking up 4+ yards a clip. Yes, Brady only needs 104 yards of passing to surpass 5,000 yards for the season and that is a remarkable achievement. But even the QB would say he would pass on that achievement (no pun intended) if the ground game was getting the job done with each and every carry.
That won’t be the case, of course, and Brady will be putting the ball in the air to his usual array of receivers and he will surpass 5,000 yards.
The defense could help out immensely with a solid game right from the start. Letting the opposition get off to a 10-0 or 17-3 start after one quarter will put the Patriots offense in a game of catch-up. That means more passing and that means the defense can pin its ears back and go after the QB. Who needs that?
This would be a wonderful time for the defense to step up.
All of this said, the Patriots rarely lose twice to the same team in the regular season and Sunday will be no different.
Patriots 42, Bills 27
The road to the Super Bowl will go through Foxboro if the Patriots are up to the challenge.