The Patriots host the Bills on Sunday looking for a 12th straight home win in the series and a 23rd victory in the last 25 meetings overall. Tom Brady is 19-2 against Buffalo, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 5,170 yards, 49 touchdowns - his most against any team - and 17 interceptions for a 103.4 rating. After a bye week, New England goes right back to the grind sporting the league's top offense. New England (5-3) faced a 21-7 deficit in the third quarter of their last meeting on Sept. 30. But the Patriots forced four turnovers in the final 30 minutes and Brady's big second half - he threw for 199 yards and three TDs - led to a 52-28 victory.
Leading the NFL in total yards per game (440.8) and points (32.8), a high-powered offense is nothing new for the Brady-Belichick Patriots. New England has finished eighth or better in both categories in each season dating back to 2007. However, the way they're operating now - with a bigger focus on the running game - is a little different. The Patriots' rushing attack (fourth in the NFL at 149.6 ypg) ranks slightly better than the passing offense (fifth at 291.1). At the forefront of New England's change is running back Stevan Ridley, who is on pace to become the first Patriot with 300 carries since Corey Dillon ran 345 times in 2004. Ridley's 89.5 rushing yards per game rank fifth and his 47 rushes for a first down are the most in the NFL
Ridley, who had 106 yards and two touchdowns at Buffalo in September, could be in for another big day. The Bills (3-5) allow 169.5 rushing yards a game, the second most in the league, and an average of 5.7 yards per carry that's easily the NFL's worst. Some would like to see Bills coach Chan Gailey more committed to his own ground game after it virtually disappeared in last week's 21-9 loss to Houston, Buffalo's fourth defeat in five games. The Bills' rushing offense ranks sixth at 141.3 yards per game, but ran the ball a season-low 15 times for 74 yards at Houston despite having C.J. Spiller, who leads the NFL with 7.2 yards per carry. Ryan Fitzpatrick will hope to have Stevie Johnson at his disposal after his leading receiver suffered a thigh injury against Houston. Johnson, who has four touchdown catches, didn't practice Wednesday but is expected to later in the week.
Brady, meanwhile, will hope to have Aaron Hernandez back after the tight end skipped the team's trip to London because of a lingering high ankle sprain. Hernandez returned to practice in a limited capacity Wednesday, but his status for Sunday is unclear. New England made great use of its star tight ends the last time both were healthy against Buffalo. Hernandez caught seven passes for 138 yards and a score while Rob Gronkowski had eight catches for 108 yards and two TDs in a 49-21 win at Foxborough on New Year's Day.
With New England's offense as explosive as it is they should be able to score early and often against one of the league's generously prone secondaries and defensive fronts. Another addition to the Patriots versatile attack is the ground game which should help dominate time of possession and limit the number of opportunities Buffalo has to make this competitive.