FOXBOROUGH — When the Patriots close out the regular season on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, their sights will be set on a first-round playoff bye.
With a win against the Bills (6-9), the Patriots will guarantee themselves a first-round bye and put the team in contention for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They need the win and the Denver Broncos to fall to the Oakland Raiders to make that happen, though.
The Patriots beat the Bills 23-21 in the season opener with Stephen Gostkowski making a 35-yard game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.
Tom Brady is 11-0 against the Bills at Gillette Stadium and the Patriots have won 19 of their past 20 games against Buffalo. Bill Belichick is 24-3 vs. the Bills while with the Patriots.
The Bills will be without starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, who has a knee injury. Backup Thad Lewis will get the start. He is 2-2 as a starter this season for the Bills.
Buffalo will also be without wide receiver Stevie Johnson (not injury related) and safety Aaron Williams (ribs).
The Patriots will make do without wide receiver Josh Boyce (ankle) while safety Devin McCourty (concussion) is listed as doubtful. McCourty has not practiced all week.
Here are the details for the game:
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
Records: Patriots 11-4; Bills 6-9.
TV, radio: CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).
Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.
Patriots offense: WR Aaron Dobson, LT Logan Mankins, LG Josh Kline, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Danny Amendola.
Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont’a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Duron Harmon, S Steve Gregory.
Bills offense: WR Robert Woods, LT Cordy Glenn, LG Doug Legursky, C Eric Wood, RG Kraig Urbik, RT Erik Pears, TE Scott Chandler, QB Thad Lewis, RB Fred Jackson, FB Frank Summers, WR TJ Graham.
Bills defense: DE Alan Branch, DT Kyle Williams, DT Marcell Dareus, DE Mario Williams, SLB Manny Lawson, MLB Kiko Alonso, WLB Nigel Bradham, LCB Leodis McKelvin, SS Aaron Williams, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Stephon Gilmore.
– Here are the Week 17 playoff scenarios for the Patriots and the rest of the NFL.
– Erik Frenz scouted the Bills in Going Deep. He also writes that the Patriots should feed Stevan Ridley vs. the Bills.
– Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.