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BOSTON (CBS) - The 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio Sports teams make their predictions for the Patriots divisional match up against the Bills in Buffalo.
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
One of the biggest things I’ve learned the first three weeks is the difficulty making picks with scab referees. I know people get mad that I call them scabs, because it wasn’t technically a lockout. But they were scabs; blisters you pull off a cut that becomes hard and crusted.
I’m glad the real refs are back this week because I think there is going to be control in the game. I think one of the things Bill Belichick regrets from last week was getting caught up in all of that mess. I look for this team to rebound; there is no way they lose three in a row even though Buffalo gives them problems up there.
Whiteboard: “Hammer Time!”
There are a lot of new editions on that defense up front in Mario Williams and our old friend Mark Anderson, but look for Tom Brady to get the ball out quickly. I look for a game plan similar to what they ran against Baltimore and not what they did against Tennessee; a lot more passing than running, a lot more Brady in the shotgun controlling the tempo and pace of the game and calling things at the line of the scrimmage. When they get the lead at the end of the game, please get out of shotgun and give the ball to Stevan Ridley.
Patriots 37, Bills 23
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The Bills are the Bills, or the Toronto Blue Jays of the NFL. It will be a close game through the first quarter and a half, and then the Patriots will start to separate and pull away. I don’t see them not bouncing back in a big way from the last two weeks.
Patriots 35, Bills 17
Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio1030
I feel better about the Patriots this week than I did last week, although their defensive showing against the Ravens was not what I expected.
With the real officials in place, expect a more balanced game in terms of what’s called a penalty and what is not. That means Rob Gronkowski should have a little more room to roam. He was assaulted on every play against the Ravens, and that behavior will draw a flag this Sunday.
Read: What To Watch For
The Patriots’ secondary still concerns me, but if Tom Brady and the offense can hang 30 on the Ravens’ defense, I like their chances in any game.
Patriots 35, Bills 27
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
If there’s any team that will benefit from the referees getting back on the job, it will be the New England Patriots. The ticky-tack penalties that they saw in the last couple of weeks effected the outcomes of their games.
The Pats are a desperate team and I expect them to play that way on Sunday. They are better than Buffalo and therefore they should beat them. I wouldn’t really get caught up in the score, only because division games always play closer than they should be. All the Pats have to do is win by one and I get the feeling they are going to use Wes Welker more and get back to the running game.
My only concern is the Patriots offensive line. Logan Mankins has missed the last two days of practice and that could mean that Donald Thomas will get matched up against either Mario Williams or Mark Anderson. Both of those match-ups are bad for Thomas. The Pats will have to remedy that early if it becomes a problem but they should win on Sunday.
Patriots 34, Bills 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
I think this has a chance to be a tough game for the Patriots.
The Bills now have a front four that can rush the passer without the help of blitzing. This means the O-line must protect Brady, especially early so he doesn’t start to worry about it. They should be able to run the ball though and that could be the deciding factor. Wes Welker and Gronk also should have good games.
The defense will have its hands full with an offense that can run it with Fred Jackson or Tashard Choice, plus Steve Johnson and Donald Jones as a receiving threat. The Bills have the 3rd best rushing yards per game at 178 per game. The Pats have been decent against the run. They also need to step up their pass rush.
Read: Pats-Bills Preview
Special Teams may also be a factor as Buffalo has struggled in that department, especially return yardage allowed.
I think this will be a slow-paced game, but it’s tough to pick against the Pats.
Patriots 27, Bills 17
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Bills game on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Kickoff is at 1pm, with Patriots Preview beginning at 10am on 98.5, and Patriots Gameday at 11:30am on WBZ-TV. Stick with the Hub for three hours of post game coverage following the game, and Patriots 5th Quarter on WBZ-TV.