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Patriots close out regular season in Buffalo

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS(10-5) at BUFFALO BILLS(7-8)
Sunday, December 28, 2008 - 1:00 p.m. EST - Ralph Wilson Stadium (73,967) *
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The Patriots will finish the 2008 regular season with a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills. New England enters this week's contest having won three straight games as it closes out the campaign with a playoff push. With a win over the Bills, the Patriots would claim a playoff berth if either the Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens lose later in the day.

PLAYOFF SCENARIOSThe Patriots can qualify for the playoffs on Sunday with a win over the Bills and a loss by either the Miami Dolphins or the Baltimore Ravens. If the Patriots defeat Buffalo in their 1:00 p.m. game and the New York Jets defeat the Dolphins in their 4:15 p.m. matchup, New England would win the AFC East championship for the sixth consecutive season and claim the third seed in the AFC playoffs, hosting a first-round playoff game on Jan. 3 or Jan. 4. If the Patriots don't win the AFC East title, they could still qualify for the playoffs as a wild card team if they beat Buffalo and the Jacksonville Jaguars defeat the Ravens in their 4:15 p.m. matchup. In that scenario, New England would hold the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs and would play a firstround playoff game on the road on Jan. 3 or Jan. 4. Additional Patriots playoff scenarios involving ties are listed below.

Patriots win AFC East title with:1. NE win and MIA loss or tie OR
2. NE tie and MIA loss

Patriots clinch wild card with:
1. NE win and BAL loss or tie OR
2. NE tie and BAL loss

PATRIOTS IN DECEMBERSince the beginning of December 2003, the Patriots have compiled a 23-2 (.920) record in the 12th month, achieving the league's best December record over that period. San Diego ranks second with a 20-6 (.769) December record since 2003. New England has won 11 straight December games dating back to 2006, is 3-0 in December 2008 and went undefeated in December in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION:This week's game will be broadcast to a regional audience by CBS. The game can be seen in the Boston area on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorfwill call the game.

RADIO:WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 36 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 32nd season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Santos and Cappelletti are celebrating their 25th anniversary season.

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots and Bills will close out the regular season with their 98th meeting since the series between the AFC East rivals began in 1960. The Patriots lead the series 56- 40, with one tie. The Patriots' 56 wins over the Bills are their highest victory total over any opponent, six more than they own over the New York Jets (49). New England has won 10 straight games in the series and has won 14 of its last 15 games against Buffalo dating back to the 2000 season. The Patriots have swept the season series from the Bills in four straight years and have achieved the feat six of the last seven years. The Patriots have won by an average margin of 21.2 points per game during their current 10- game win streak. The Patriots have had the upper hand when playing the Bills on the road as they own a 26-21-1 record in Buffalo. The Patriots beat the Bills last season at Ralph Wilson Stadium by a 56-10 score. The teams have had many memorable matchups over the years, including a five-game span from 1999 to 2001 where four of the five contests were decided in overtime.

SERIES SUCCESS
The Patriots have won 10 straight games against the Bills, which is tied for the second longest regular-season winning streak against an opponent in team history. New England's current 10-game winning streak against Buffalo is the third longest current winning streak against an opponent in the NFL.

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Matt Cassel is slated to start against the Buffalo Bills for the second time in his career. Cassel started against the Bills earlier this season in Week 10 and led the Patriots to a 20-10 win. In that victory, Cassel put the Patriots on the scoreboard first with a 13-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. Cassel also helped close out the game by a leading the Patriots on a 19- play, 92-yard drive in the fourth quarter, chewing up 9:08 of clock time and protecting what was then a 13-3 lead. The drive ended in a 1-yard touchdown by BenJarvus Green-Ellis that made the score 20-3. The drive tied the longest drive in team history (in terms of number of plays).

CONNECTIONS

  • Bills head coach Dick Jauron is a native of Swampscott, Mass., and was a three-sport standout at Swampscott High, where he was named one of the top 10 Massachusetts prep athletes of the 20th Century by the Boston Globe.
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichickwas the Detroit Lions' assistant special teams coach from 1976-77, while Bills head coach Dick Jauron played safety for Detroit.
  • Dick Jauronwas head coach of the Chicago Bears when linebacker Rosevelt Colvin played there from 1999-2002.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymourand Bills defensive lineman Marcus Stroud were on the same defensive front at the University of Georgia from 1997-2000. Seymour and Stroud each earned All-Southeastern Conference honors during their senior season (2000).
  • Patriots running back Sammy Morris was drafted by the Bills in the fifth round (156th selection) of the 2000 NFL Draft. Morris played for the Bills from 2000-03.
  • Bills offensive lineman Melvin Fowler blocked for LaMont Jordan at the University of Maryland, helping him become the Terrapins all-time leading rusher with 4,147 yards.
  • Bills offensive line coach Jim McNally was the offensive line coach at Boston College from 1975-77.
  • Patriots wide receiver Sam Aikenwas drafted by the Bills in the third round (127th selection) of the 2003 NFL Draft. Aiken played in his first five season with the Bills before signing with the Patriots in March 2008.
  • Patriots wide receiver Randy Mosswas a teammate of Bills defensive tackle Spencer Johnson with the Minnesota Vikings in 2004.
  • Patriots fullback Heath Evans and Bills kicker Rian Lindell were teammates with the Seattle Seahawks from 2001-02.
  • Patriots tight end David Thomas was a teammate of Bills offensive lineman Derrick Dockery at the University of Texas in 2002.
  • Patriots linebacker Junior Seau played at Southern California from 1988-89 while Bills assistant head coach/special teams Bobby April was the Trojans' secondary/kicking coach.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilforkand safety Brandon Meriweather and Bills wide receiver Roscoe Parrish were teammates at the University of Miami. Wilfork and Parrish were on the Hurricanes' National Championship season in 2001.
  • Patriots offensive lineman Russ Hochstein and Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay played together at the University of Nebraska from 1998-2000.
  • Patriots running back LaMont Jordan and wide receiver Randy Moss were teammates with Bills offensive tackle Langston Walker with the Oakland Raiders from 2005-06.
  • Patriots wide receiver Kelley Washington and Bills cornerback Jabari Greer were teammates at the University of Tennessee in 2001.
  • Bills defensive quality control coach Adrian White played for the Patriots in the 1993 season. White played in five games in '93 with four starts.
  • Patriots cornerback Deltha O'Nealand Bills offensive lineman Langston Walkerwere teammates at the University of California from 1998-99.
  • Six current Patriots and Bills played college football at Louisiana State University. They are Patriots running back Kevin Faulk (1995-1998), defensive lineman Jarvis Green (1998-2001) and linebacker Eric Alexander (2000-2003) and Bills tight end Robert Royal (1997-2001), wide receiver Josh Reed(1998-2001) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (2002-2005).
  • Patriots Punter Chris Hanson and Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud were teammates with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2001-06.
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