By CBSBoston.com Staff

FOXBORO (CBS) — Entering Week 15, the Patriots sat atop the AFC and controlled their fate as the conference’s top team. But a disappointing Saturday night loss in Indianapolis has derailed that quest for a first-round bye, which now belongs to the suddenly terrifying Kansas City Chiefs.

Following this weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Colts, the Patriots are now second in the AFC. Gone is the top spot in the conference and that potential first-round bye, and with a rematch with the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium this weekend, the Patriots will be battling to hang on to the top spot in the AFC East.

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The loss in Indy was a costly one, as the Patriots have to essentially win out to remain out of the Wild Card mix. Dropping any of their final three games — home games against the Bills and the Jaguars before closing the season on the road in Miami — would mean no more home playoff game for the Pats. Losing more than one may cost them the playoffs all together.

That is what’s at stake now after New England’s seven-game win streak was snapped on Saturday night. It goes to show just how small any team’s margin for error is this season in the NFL. For the Patriots, they’re moving on from that woeful night in Indy as quickly as they can.

“We just had a bad day and those guys took advantage of us,” linebacker Jamie Collins said Monday. “They were the better team and won the game. That is the end of that.”

Collins did say that Saturday’s loss left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, one they’re eager to get rid of this weekend.

“Sometimes we need that,” said Collins. “You need that humble pie — that setback — just to keep you honest. It is what it is.”

“I can’t speak for everybody else, but for me personally, this is one of those ‘It happened. It’s over. We’re flushing it and moving on’ [kind of games],” added running back Brandon Bolden.

Bolden then quickly drew on an old adage by his head coach: “We’re on to Buffalo.”

The Patriots had to watch film from Saturday night’s loss on Monday. But now that it’s over and they have (hopefully) learned from the many mistakes they made in the defeat, the Pats have the Bills in their crosshairs.

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When the two teams kick things off Sunday afternoon, they’ll be less than three weeks removed from their Week 13 matchup in a windy Buffalo. The Patriots embarrassed the Bills on their home field that night, earning a 14-10 win by running on all but three plays on offense. The Bills still couldn’t stop the New England rush attack despite knowing that it was coming.

The game plan will, of course, be much different this time around. There will be no blustery wind wreaking havoc on passing games, and temperatures will be about normal for this time of year. Add in the postseason implications, and there will be a playoff feel in the air in Foxboro.

Even though their last matchup was one of the wacky variety, don’t expect the Patriots to just throw that game out the window. It will be part of their homework, even if, in a way, they’ll be re-learning the Bills over the next week.

“How can you not take away anything, just from how everyone played based on the circumstances? There is a lot we can take from that, but a lot of situational and circumstantial things that is safe to leave behind,” said Bolden. “Buffalo is not the same team we played a few weeks ago, so we have to kind of go back and re-learn them.”

“You have to see what they hit you with on their big plays and the plays they were successful on. The game is so fresh, so you can see the plays that hurt us so we can adjust with how they attack us in the game,” said defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. “They’re going to have a lot of adjustments and come in with a full head of steam to play good football. We all know this is going to be a hard fought game.”

The Patriots will also be putting a lot of focus on themselves after such a disappointing showing on Saturday night.

“At the end of the day, it’s always about focusing on your craft,” said Collins. “Yeah, the game plan is the game plan, but in order to beat the guy across from you you have to make sure you’re intact. Coming off the performance we just had, it’s something we have to work on as far as getting ourselves back together and playing New England Patriots football. I have to be the best me in order to deal with the situation that I’m in.”

“The one thing you didn’t hear was a lot of finger-pointing,” said Guy. “It was the team. The team dropped the ball and as a team we have to get better. For the last three weeks, we have to get better every single day.”

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Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Bills game on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1pm, and after the game switch over to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!

CBSBoston.com Staff