Game info: Patriots vs. Bills

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Game info: Patriots vs. Bills

GAME TIME: 1 p.m.

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Patriots lead Bills, 62-41-1.

LAST MEETING: Patriots 49, Bills 21 on Jan. 1, 2012 at Gillette Stadium.

OF NOTE . . .
Tom Brady has led the Patriots to 18 regular-season victories over Buffalo, his highest total of wins against any team, and has also a) thrown for more touchdowns (18) against Buffalo than any other team, and b) had more 300-yard games (6) against Buffalo than any other team.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With a victory over Buffalo, Bill Belichick will earn his 194th career victory, moving him out of a tie with Chuck Knox into sole possession of eighth place all-time.

With one touchdown pass against Buffalo, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 36 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and tie Brett Favre (36) for the third-longest streak all time. Johnny Unitas (47) and Drew Brees (46-current) are the top two.

Brady (3,476) needs 12 completions to move past Kerry Collins (3,487) into 10th place all-time on the NFLs all-time completion list. Brady (40,866) needs 57 passing yards to move past Collins (40,922) into 11th place all-time on the NFLs all-time passing list.Brees is in 10th with 44,611 yards.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50 yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50 yard field goals in a single season.

Jerod Mayo can extend his streak to four straight games with 10 or more tackles, which would tie his career high after recording 13 at Tennessee, 11 vs. Arizona and 11 at Baltimore. Two times in 2011, he had four-game stretches with 10 or more tackles.

Wes Welker (6,356 receiving yards as a Patriot) needs 11 receiving yards to move past Troy Brown (6,366) into second place on the New England all-time receiving list. Stanley Morgan is in first place with 10,352 yards.

Branch carries on with productive season after suspension is overturned

Branch carries on with productive season after suspension is overturned

FOXBORO – The first snap of the game for the Los Angeles Rams offense was an inside handoff to running back Todd Gurley. He was summarily stuffed by Patriots defensive lineman Alan Branch for a 1-yard loss.

It was happenstance, of course, that the Rams chose to run right at Branch. But it was no coincidence that the Branch was there to envelop Gurley like an upright sofa. The 6-foot-6, 350-pound, 31-year-old has been doing that all season. And on Saturday, word broke that he will be able to continue doing so, uninterrupted by NFL discipline.

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

Branch, who was set to be suspended by the NFL for testing positive for marijuana, had his suspension rescinded by the league. The league did so without hearing the appeal Branch filed. Apparently, they decided they just got it wrong. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports that the traces of marijuana in Branch’s system were from a previously failed test and did not constitute a separate incident.

It’s been a strange season for Branch, a quirky, goofy, good-natured guy who dances during practices, stretching, on the sidelines and in between plays more than any other Patriot. That’s if any other Patriot actually dances. Branch was suspended by the team for a week during training camp. Reason unknown.

Regardless, his play’s been very good.

“This has definitely been the most productive year I’ve had so far,” he said. “Is it my best? When it comes to numbers it probably would be but there’s a lot of plays and a lot of games I could have done better. I’m kinda my own worst critic.”

Why has he been so productive?

“It’s a good defense for me,” he explained. “The playcalls and way we play goes to my strength to allow me to make plays and I’m making them.”

Branch has 40 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble this season. He had just that lone tackle on the stat sheet on Sunday, but he was a factor even if the stats don’t say so. During one first-half rush, Branch worked upfield with a bull rush, then spun back to his right to get in the face of Rams quarterback Jared Goff, forcing an incompletion.  

“That’s all reaction,” said Branch. “That was a hard day’s work on that play because I kept reacting and reacting and then I was right there. I just get out there and try to cause some ruckus.”

Meanwhile, the would-be suspension caused a ruckus for Branch prior to Saturday.

“I was upset because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “Having my name out there for my family and friends and my kids family and friends to see, you never want to have that on you. But I just wanted to go out there and take it one day at a time and play my best ball because I felt pretty confident that I was going to win the appeal or whatever was going to happen. I expected it because I didn’t see how it could go any other way when I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Asked if the league reached out to apologize for getting it wrong, Branch said, “I haven’t gotten anything yet. I haven’t read any emails yet, I haven’t opened my emails.”

Asked if he cares to hear an apology, Branch said, “I do care. I don’t know if it’s an apology or what (that he’s seeking) but the position I was put in was something else.”