Game Preview: Patriots @ Bills

News, Notes, links and more for Sunday's Week 3 matchup between the New England Patriots (2-0) and the Buffalo Bills (2-0).

New England Patriots (2-0) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 9/25/11
LOCATION: Buffalo 
WEATHER: Local Forecast
STADIUM: Ralph Wilson Stadium
SURFACE: A-Turf Titan
TV: CBS, Kenny Albert, Rich Gannon

PREDICTION: Patriots 38-23

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Patriots have won 15 consecutive games over the Bills and QB Tom Brady looks unbeatable. That's nothing new to the Bills -- Brady is 17-2 against them -- and seeking a third straight 400-yard passing game. Even if TE Aaron Hernandez (knee) is out, Brady has three other receivers with 10-plus catches. The Bills can slow the pace with the NFL's leading rusher, Fred Jackson, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be flustered if the Bills fall behind. His receivers are capable of gouging a Patriots secondary dogged by injury. Fitzpatrick's favorite target has been TE Scott Chandler, a hulk in the red zone, though WRs Steve Johnson and David Nelson have better matchups.

FAST FACTS: The Bills have outscored their opponents 56-14 in the second half. ... The Patriots have six receivers with a reception of at least 30 yards.


    Vince Wilfork certainly wouldn't fall under the category of unappreciated players on New England's roster, but he's gained more notoriety this week after recording his first career interception -- and return -- Sunday against the Chargers.

   "When I go places, the first thing people want to talk about was that play," Wilfork said. "I have some people telling me, 'That's the greatest play they've ever seen,' and they're 60 years old, so I'm like, 'They've been around for a long time. I'm pretty sure they've seen a lot of football, so to rank that one of the best they've seen, that's an honor.'

   "As a player, you play so many years, you play so many times -- I can't tell you how many times I've put my hand down in the dirt and the last thing I'm thinking about is an interception or a fumble recovery. (The) only thing you think about is doing your job."

   Wilfork actually considered the play a "steal."

   The interception and subsequent return helped set up a field goal before the end of the first half, which widened the Patriots' lead going into the break.

   "There's going to be certain plays in the game that you can steal. That's just the nature of the beast," he said. "I was just lucky to actually steal one, and that was one of things that gave us the momentum going into halftime."

   Once the team's flight lands Saturday in Buffalo, it'll be all business again for Wilfork, who is ready to put the past behind him and focus on beating the undefeated Bills at Ralph Wilson Satdium.

   "A lot of people Tweeted me about it -- people that I'm not in contact with, but they sent a Tweet just congratulating me and everything. It's been cool," Wilfork said. "I know I can't live on that play forever. I have to turn the (page). It's a good week to turn, because with Buffalo, they're playing some good football."


Call it the Tom Brady Curse.

   The Bills are dealing with it once more as they prepare to take on the star New England Patriots quarterback, who since 2001 is 17-1 in 18 starts against Buffalo.

   In those 17 games his New England team has won, it's been by an average score of 30-12. Counting two games in 2008 that Brady missed with a knee injury, his Patriots still beat Buffalo (with Matt Cassel) and the Patriots are now riding a 15-game winning streak over their AFC East division "rival."

   Brady is off to another torrid start, throwing for seven touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards in just two games.

   "I see him controlling every aspect of the game right now," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "He controls the tempo, the protections, the routes. He checks at the right time. You can see all the years of experience and all the years of that group working together coming together now."

   So how do the Bills possibly stop Brady?

   Generating a pass rush to force him into mistakes is one way. Running the ball on offense and limiting his opportunities with the ball is another.

   When watching film of Brady, it's difficult for the Bills not to admire him just from a pure football point of view.

   "He knows the game so well, he's seen everything, he can make every single throw," marveled safety Bryan Scott. "Sometimes when you're watching film he looks so comfortable back there reading the defense, he'll go through his progressions two or three times before he decides where he wants to go. We have to make him uncomfortable ... and you have to do it with a four-man rush because if he knows the blitz is coming, he'll pick you apart."


   --LB A.J. Edds, who was claimed off waivers from Miami earlier this month, was waived Thursday.
   --LB Jeff Tarpinian was signed off the practice squad Thursday and added to the 53-man roster.
   --DL Mike Wright was not at practice Thursday, which means he'll more than likely be out of the lineup Sunday against Buffalo.
   --TE Dan Gronkowski was not at practice Thursday, though there's no word on his availability Sunday. The Patriots listed him as "limited" in practice due to a hamstring injury.
   --S Patrick Chung was out of practice again Thursday and reportedly had surgery this week after injuring his thumb against the Chargers. There's no word on whether or not he'll be available Sunday.
   --QB Tom Brady extended his NFL record with his 29th consecutive regular-season win at home Sunday. The last time the Patriots lost a regular-season home game in which Brady started was in 2006.
   --NT Vince Wilfork became the 14th defensive lineman in team history to intercept a pass Sunday and the first since Richard Seymour in 2006.
   --DT Albert Haynesworth (back) didn't do any on-field work during Thursday's practice.
   --CB Kyle Arrington (concussion) was upgraded Thursday to limited participation in practice after not practicing Wednesday.

   --WR Stevie Johnson, who is nursing a groin injury, practiced fully. That's good news for a Buffalo receiving corps already without Roscoe Parrish, who went on IR this week with an ankle injury.
   --DL Spencer Johnson practiced fully in preparation for Sunday's game with New England. He has a hip problem that forced him to sit out Wednesday. The Bills need his presence in a pass-rush rotation against Tom Brady.
   --NT Torell Troup, who has missed both games so far with a bad back, practiced fully for a second consecutive game. He plans to play Sunday against the Patriots but will need to test himself pre-game.
   --CB Terrence McGee is out for the Patriots game with a hamstring injury. He could miss at least one more week.
   --LB Kirk Morrison is nursing a hamstring problem. He's questionable for Sunday.

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