Curran's Keys: Don't give the Bills hope

Curran's Keys: Don't give the Bills hope
December 28, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Tom E. Curran checks in with three keys for the Patriots in their regular season finale against the Buffalo Bills.

The Patriots got a statement win last week with a 41-7 basting of the Ravens in Baltimore, but their work isn't done just yet. 

New England is still fighting for a first round bye and has an outside chance at the 1-seed if they win and the Broncos lose to the Raiders. 

The Patriots will close out their season the same way they opened it - against the Buffalo Bills. 

The Bills are coming off a feel-good 19-0 shutout of the Dolphins (a win that clinched the AFC East for the Patriots before they kicked off against the Ravens).

Here are the three things the Patriots need to do to wrap up the season with a 'W' and secure a first round bye. 

Don't give the Bills hope

Buffalo is a team whose season is about to come to an end. 

They're coming out of the Christmas holiday and heading into the New Year's holiday. The offseason is staring them in the face. 

There's a good chance this team is ready to pack up and go home. 

New England has to put the game out of reach early and take away any inclination to fight that the Bills might have left.

Keep Buffalo's defensive line check

There's nothing more important for the Patriots than leaving this game with all their key pieces healthy.

The Bills have an aggressive and dominant front seven, and they lead the NFL with 56 sacks.

The Patriots must keep the Bills at bay.

Don't get beat deep

Throughout the season, the Patriots have done a great job of eliminating the deep plays - the 30 - 40 - 50 yard passes. 

This ties back to the first key. Eliminating the deep plays will keep the Bills from getting in the game, and allow the Patriots to move into the postseason on a nice little two-game winning streak.

Final prediction: Patriots 27, Bills 13