FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (WBEN/AP)— The Buffalo Bills are plummeting toward their 13th straight season without a playoff berth. Four losses in their last five games are the wrong steps toward that elusive goal.
Now they must play the team that has dominated them for a decade in a stadium where they've never won.
Beat the New England Patriots? The Bills have done it just twice in their last 21 matchups. "They've obviously had our number," Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrickk said. "We're kind of down right now. We don't think we're out. I think there's still a positive vibe in the locker room. I think you have to have that, otherwise you're beat before you go play."
It's not that the Bills haven't been competitive in Foxborough.
In 2009, they led 24-13 but lost 25-24 whenTom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the last three minutes. In 2010, they led 24-23 with two minutes left in the third quarter but lost 38-30. And last season, they led 21-0 after one quarter then collapsed and lost 49-21.
So the Patriots (5-3) don't expect an easy game as they try to improve to 11-0 against the Bills (3-5) at Gillette Stadium. A victory takes on more urgency since they lead the Miami Dolphins by just one game in the AFC East. "It's always tough against a division opponent, no matter what the guys' records are," New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said.
The Patriots will be rested after having a bye last week. They went into it after their best game of the season, a 45-7 win in London in which they held St. Louis scoreless after allowing a touchdown on the Rams first possession.
In their first meeting with the Bills this year, the Patriots trailed 21-7 early in the third quarter then scored touchdowns on six straight possessions and pulled away for a 52-28 victory. It was the second game in NFL history in which a team had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and two 100-yard rushers.
"They are very balanced now," Buffalo linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said. "It is not just the Tom Brady show. It's not just that they are going to line up five wide and throw the ball around. Now they do have the run dimension and they are averaging about 150 yards a game and that is definitely something that we are going to have to handle."
The Bills must try to stop the team that leads the NFL with 32.8 points and 440.8 yards per game with a defense that has allowed the second most points (31.0 per game) and yards (417.9).