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Pats, Bills Both Need A Win In Week 16.

It's hard to remember when there was this much at stake in a game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. The AFC East rivals will meet Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium as both teams look to maintain their spot in the playoff picture.

The Week 16 betting odds heavily favor New England, who has already clinched yet another division title. The Patriots, however, have more work to do in order to secure the AFC's No.1 seed. Buffalo is the conference's No.6 seed, and making the playoffs is far from a guarantee because of tiebreaker scenarios.

There's no question that Sunday's game is more important for the Bills. They are looking to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999. Buffalo has the longest playoff drought in the NFL, and they haven't won a playoff game since the 1995 season.

Buffalo shares the same 8-6 record as the No.5 seed Tennessee Titans and the No.7 seed Baltimore Ravens. The Los Angeles Chargers are also still in the hunt, and the seasons' final two weeks will determine which teams own the final tiebreakers.

It's possible that the Bills could beat both New England Sunday and the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 and still miss the postseason, though that is unlikely. That would only happen if the Titans and Ravens win their final two games and the Jacksonville Jaguars lose their last two games.

Beating Miami in Week 17 will be especially important for Buffalo because it would give them the tiebreaker over Tennessee if both teams finish 9-7. If the Bills, Titans and Ravens all go 9-7, the tiebreaker scenarios depend on which game each team wins over the next two weeks. Click (http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/sports/football/nfl/bills/2017/12/17/here-how-buffalo-bills-came-make-playoffs-after-win-over-miami/959460001/) here for a full breakdown of what Buffalo needs to reach the playoffs if that happens.

Going 9-7 with a victory over the Dolphins is probably where the Bills are going to end up. Miami should be officially eliminated from contention by the end of Week 16, and Buffalo defeated them easily in Week 15. As much as Buffalo has exceeded expectations this year, it's hard to imagine them upsetting the Patriots on the road in a game that New England needs.

Winning in Pittsburgh last week put the Patriots in the driver's seat to get home-field advantage until the Super Bowl. Two straight victories to end the season would land New England the No.1 seed. A win against the Bills, combined with losses by the Steelers and Jaguars in Week 16, would accomplish that, as well. If New England wins and either Pittsburgh or Jacksonville loses, the Patriots will get no worse than the No.2 seed and a first-round playoff bye. 

The Patriots own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers, with whom they share an 11-3 record. The Jaguars are a game behind New England and Pittsburgh, but they own the tiebreaker over both teams.

Pittsburgh and Jacksonville both have a good chance to end the season with two straight wins. The Steelers are favored over the Houston Texans by 8.5 points on Christmas Day, and they host the winless Cleveland Browns in the regular-season finale. Jacksonville ends the season with visits to San Francisco and Tennessee.

New England is favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions with good reason. Tom Brady remains the NFL's best quarterback, and the leading MVP candidate engineers the league's No.2 offense.

The Patriots' defense has been terrific after a poor first month, allowing 14.6 points over their last 10 games. That would rank first in the NFL if New England had done that for the entire season.

Buffalo wasn't even competitive with New England when they hosted the Patriots in Week 12, losing 23-3. Tyrod Taylor completed just nine of his 18 pass attempts for 65 yards and an interception. It was New England's 22nd win over Buffalo in their last 25 meetings.

The Patriots are 7-1 in their last eight games against the spread and 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 home games. New England is an 11.5-point favorite, per (http://www.oddsshark.com/nfl/buffalo-new-england-odds-december-24-2017-789133) OddsShark . Sunday's over/under is 47.5.

Prediction: New England over Buffalo, 30-17
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:1U100
Date:Dec 21, 2017
Words:720
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