Patriots are clearly on to Buffalo and beyond
The tumultous season of the New England Patriots continues, with jolt after jolt, the latest being the Josh Gordon fiasco. But the Buffalo Bills are coming to town, and they are the perfect holiday pick-me-up for the Patriots and its fans.
Of course, the Patriots have to re-adjust their plan.
“We have a lot of good players, a lot of people who have contributed and performed well for us,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Friday. “We have a lot of confidence in them, the whole team.”
The “them” of course are players like Phillip Dorsett, Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson, etc. who now may need to make bigger plays more often. Dorsett has been invisible since Gordon arrived, Hogan emerged last week, and Patterson has been fun to watch more as a running back than a receiver. And don’t forget about James White, even though the Patriots may have. As for Dorsett, Belichick said “I don’t think you can ask for anything more than he gives to the team” in terms of preparation.
All well and good. We’ll see how it plays out. Keep this in mind: the Patriots still have a very good shot at the No. 2 seed and a first round bye. Besides whoever wins the AFC West, the only other division winner who has a chance to have a better record than New England is Houston. The key will be the Texans game at Philly this Sunday.
Josh Gordon? While Belichick expressed his well wishes and concern, he won’t say much more. To be fair, he can’t, by league rule.
“We’re going to get ready for Buffalo, and play Buffalo on Sunday,” he said.
OK, on to Buffalo and the picks:
PATRIOTS 30, BILLS 7
Really, does anyone not think this team playing at home won’t win in a waltz, Josh or no Josh? That they won’t take advantage of the talent difference and clamp down on the other Josh, Bills rookie QB Josh Allen? This is an offensively challenged team that simply is no match at Gillette for the home team, period.
CHARGERS 24, RAVENS 20
Great Saturday night game, and this is the Chargers’ chance to take control of the AFC with a win. Yes, Baltimore needs this win desperately to keep pace with the Steelers, but L.A.’s defense should be able to chase Lamar Jackson and limit the damage. A must see tonight.
DOLPHINS 23, JAGUARS 12
Didn’t expect the Jags to have really quit on head coach Doug Marrone, but at times that’s what it looks like, right? Still don’t expect Tom Coughlin to take over next year, even while everyone else does. Dolphins have 9-7 or 8-8 written all over them, and get No. 8 at home.
COWBOYS 27, BUCCANEERS 17
Dallas gets back on track at home, and will clinch the NFC East title with a win over the hapless Bucs who no doubt will make yet another coaching change at the end of the season. It just hasn’t gone well for Tampa, mainly because QB Jameis Winston has underachieved. Cowboys will play on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 4 seed.
EAGLES 21, TEXANS 17
Philly, er, Upset Special. Nick Foles pays the Patriots back this time. Don’t get too comfortable with that No. 2 seed, Houston. The Eagles looked pretty good with Foles under center out in L.A.last Sunday night. The question is, can Foles get away from J.J. Watt? Yes, when he goes out to catch a pass for the game-winner.
SAINTS 27, STEELERS 23
Steelers may be on a high after beating the Patriots, but it’ll be a low soon enough. Saints just don’t lose at home; it’s just a matter of how much time Drew Brees has to throw. Brees routinely beats the blitz and that’s all the Steelers really do.
SEAHAWKS 24, CHIEFS 23
What the heck happened to Seattle last week? That one’s on Pete Carroll, but we all know Andy Reid will somehow make strange decisions in a close game. Kansas City is hurting in the secondary (even with the return of Eric Berry) and the Seahawks are at home in a must-win. Prediction: Chiefs will finish as the fifth seed and play at Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
LAST WEEK: 5-2
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251 or email@example.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).