weeks of the regular season for the Patriots have included the celebration of an

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FOXBOROUGH Diontae Johnson Jersey , Mass. (AP) — For nine straight years, the final few weeks of the regular season for the Patriots have included the celebration of an AFC East title and typically an accompanying first-round bye in the playoffs.New England can lock up a 10th consecutive division crown Sunday with a win or tie against Buffalo, or a Miami loss or tie when it hosts Jacksonville. The Patriots would also become the first franchise in NFL history to earn a playoff berth in 10 straight seasons.But they enter the final two weeks of the regular season needing help to avoid playing in the wild-card round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009.Article continues below ...Following back-to-back losses at Miami and Pittsburgh , New England (9-5) began Week 16 on track to be the No. 3 seed in the AFC behind Kansas City (11-3) and Houston (10-4).The Patriots have not been a wild-card team since 2009, when they were blown out by Baltimore. They also failed to make it to the Super Bowl the other two times under coach Bill Belichick (2005 and 2006) that they played during the opening weekend of the postseason. New England has never started the postseason on the road with Belichick the coach and Tom Brady the quarterback.The first step to New England avoiding those fates is by continuing its dominance against the Bills (5-9), a team it has beaten four straight times — including a 25-6 win at Buffalo in October. It was one of the few successes the Patriots had on the road this season, where they’ve gone just 3-5.While they will be at home Sunday and for their regular-season finale on Dec. 30 against the Jets, coach Bill Belichick is not counting it as an advantage.“I think playing well creates an advantage,” he said.New England is as healthy as it’s been all season, but will have to adapt after receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Thursday for violating an agreement that allowed him to play after multiple drug suspensions.Gordon was thriving in New England, where he landed in September in a trade after the Browns felt it was time to cut ties. In 11 starts with the Patriots, he had 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns Justin Layne Jersey , five years removed from an All-Pro season in 2013 with 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns.Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said Buffalo, which is coming off a close win over Detroit last week, is embracing the role of spoiler.“It’s huge,” Alexander said. “Obviously, they’ve been the standard of our division for the last 15 years, and they’re in the division chase. So for us to go up there and be able to beat them would be huge obviously for this city, for our team and organization. Because they’re a team that’s really had our number since I’ve been here.”Here are some things to watch for in Sunday’s game:WHO STEPS UP?With Gordon out, Brady will be looking for someone to fill his production for the remainder of the season. That will likely mean a lot more will be put on veteran receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski, though both struggled at times this season. Edelman has 63 catches for 711 yards and four touchdowns, while Gronkowski has 45 catches for 658 yards and three TDs.But Gronk was limited again this week by ankle and back issues. And between them, they have just two touchdowns over the past three games.OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTWith rookie quarterback Josh Allen back on the field for four games since missing four with a sprained right elbow Benny Snell Jr. Jersey , the Bills’ offense is improving despite RB LeSean McCoy’s ongoing struggles.Allen is 57 for 114 for 801 yards, four TDs and four INTs in in his last four starts. Meanwhile, the Bills have topped 100 yards rushing in five straight games, matching last season’s high.McCoy has topped 100 yards just once — 113 yards and two touchdowns — in a 41-10 win at the New York Jets on Nov. 11. Otherwise, with 479 yards rushing, he’s in jeopardy of finishing with the lowest production of his career. He had 637 yards as a rookie in 2009, when he had four starts in 16 games.CHARTING BRADYBrady owns a 29-3 record against Bills. His 29 wins against Buffalo are the most victories by a quarterback against a single opponent. Next is Brady’s 26 wins against Jets.Brady passed for 324 yards in the last meeting with Buffalo and needs 21 to join Peyton Manning (14) and Drew Brees (12) as quarterbacks with 10 seasons of 4,000-plus yards passing. ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — As far as Detroit general manager Bob Quinn is concerned, the Lions needed to pounce once they found a linebacker they liked.“Linebackers that play in this defense, that are really very, very good natural fits Zach Gentry Jersey , there’s only a couple every year,” Quinn said. “You wait a year, you don’t get one, you might not get him next year, you might not get him the year after.”The Lions drafted Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night, then traded up to pick Boston College defensive back Will Harris in the third. Tavai is second on Hawaii’s career list in tackles and was on preseason watch lists last year for the Bronko Nagurski and Butkus awards. He averaged 10.2 tackles a game, but a shoulder injury cut his 2018 season short, and he played in only eight games.“Shoulder’s doing great,” Tavai said. “I’m just getting excited to be able to get into pads again.”In 2017, he started all 12 games at middle linebacker and ranked 10th nationally in tackles.Detroit took the 250-pound Tavai with the 43rd pick — the highest a Hawaii player has been drafted since Tennessee took defensive end Travis LaBoy at No. 42 in 2004.An NFL.com analyst projected Tavai to go in the fourth or fifth round , and Detroit’s pick in the first half of the second round was a bit of a surprise. The Lions took tight end T.J. Hockenson in the first round Thursday night.Quinn said the Lions had been targeting Tavai since as early as October.“We like thick, built linebackers Nick Bosa Jersey ,” Quinn said. “Really thick guys that can kind of take on blocks, but then when they play on the edge, they have enough playing strength and enough arm length to set the edge.”In addition to being a football standout, Tavai has also been an impressive rugby player and was named to an Under-18 U.S. national team.“Big thing with rugby, especially in sevens, is learning how to make a better tackle in the open field,” Tavai said. “So that was one thing that really helped me in football.”The last time the Lions took a linebacker in the draft was 2017, when they selected Jarrad Davis in the first round and Jalen Reeves-Maybin in the fourth.The Lions took Harris with the 81st pick, which they acquired from Minnesota in exchange for a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder. A four-year player at Boston College, Harris was a starter since late in his freshman season and earned third-team All-ACC honors as a senior.Quinn used to work for the New England Patriots, and he said he has plenty of contacts on the staff at Boston College, where Harris played.“I know a bunch of staff members just for L.J. Collier Jersey , honestly, probably 15 or 20 years. You go there, and Boston College had a pretty good list of prospects this year,” Quinn said. “Really, the first guy that a lot of guys mentioned to me was (Harris).”Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was a defensive line coach at Boston College for two seasons before joining the Lions last year.Harris’ father Will, a receiver at Mississippi State, was drafted by Buffalo in the seventh round in 1993.“He’s been there every step of the way. He’s been my coach growing up, my trainer, my mentor,” Harris said. “It meant the world for me for him to be here and see our culmination of work. … This is the best day of my life.”

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