With inclement weather in the forecast for Monday night, it will only add to the intense atmosphere that is Orchard Park, New York for a Buffalo Bills football game. A nationally televised game with conference and division implications is usually enough to make for a big contest, but the passionate Bills mafia will ensure it's the toughest road challenge yet for a Patriots team that has a perfect record away from their friendly confines of Gillette Stadium.
"It's going to be crazy, it's a great environment up there, the Bills mafia I think they do a great job supporting their team," said Matthew Slater, a veteran of many upstate New York battles with the Bills. "They make it tough on opponents. I think you just have to stay in the moment up there, there's going to be some adversity when you go up there and play a good football team in a hostile environment. You just have to keep playing. Take it play-by-play and try not to let the game get too big for you.
"We'll do our best to control the controllables and realize that what matters most is what happens between the white lines."
"Really what you see out on the field as far as Buffalo as a fast team, explosive, all those things that you see on the field is pretty much what you get in the stands," said Dont'a Hightower. "Even three hours before the game, their fans are out there throwing people through tables. It's a sight to see. Bills mafia, they travel well. Last couple of years they had a lot to fight for. Monday night it's going to be a great setting for football."
But Hightower said once the game gets underway, it's best to ignore the noise and focus solely on the team that will stress the Patriots in all phases.
"Once you get in between plays I'm not hearing it or anything," said Hightower. "I think just for the overall environment and atmosphere... it gives you that college feeling that you don't really get in a lot of stadiums."
"I love playing there," continued Slater. "That's what competition's all about. That's why you appreciate the fans and their presence in the game. Buffalo embodies that as well as anybody in this league. We look forward to it, it certainly won't be easy but we look forward to the challenge."
Matt Judon will be making his first trip to Buffalo as a Patriot and was anticipating a new level of vitriol as a divisional opponent with first place on the line.
"They didn't have the hatred for the Ravens that they do for the Patriots," said Judon , before adding, "I'll find out."
Practice & Injury Report
A day after having Jamie Collins return from Injured Reserve, the Patriots got linebacker Harvey Langi back at Thursday's practice. Both should provide a boost to the second level of the Patriots defense and special teams once they are able to return. Otherwise, the attendance list remained the same, with Kyle Dugger (Reserve/COVID-19) and J.J. Taylor (Reserve/COVID-19) the only players from the active roster missing.
The Patriots' first Injury Report of the week listed eight players as limited as the list has shrunk somewhat.