Patriots vs Bills Preview Part 2: New England's Quest to Clinch the AFC East
Posted by: Gronkowski
The Patriots road trip to Pittsburgh didn’t go quite as planned, so now their playoff hopes are relying on the last two weeks of the season, which is unexpected for everyone involved.
There was more bad news on Thursday when wide receiver Josh Gordon announced that he was stepping away from football to deal with some mental health issues.
The team quickly released a statement via Twitter pledging their support for his efforts to focus on health.
Statement from the New England Patriots on Josh Gordon: pic.twitter.com/tXmXrXVrJL— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 20, 2018
It has since been reported that Gordon has been suspended indefinitely by the league for “violating terms of his reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.”
“I felt bad for him,” teammate Devin McCourty told reporters later in the day, according to Boston.com.“We care more about him and him getting well and all of those things more than him catching passes.’’
“First and foremost, my prayers are with Josh and my concern is with him and what he’s dealing with, whatever that may be,” added Matthew Slater. “He was a good teammate – worked hard, tried his best to put the team first, did everything that he was asked to do while he was here."
Earlier in the week before news of his deparature, Gronk said that Gordon brought a lot to the Patriots. "The way he just plays. The way he catches the ball, gets that burst, gets us the first downs when we need it. Just another player on our team that's reliable whenever we need him. Just great to have him. Great to have him as part of the team."
Moving forward, the good news is that New England closes out the 2018 season at Gillette against familiar guests, the Bills and the Jets.
The Pats haven’t suffered a three-game loss since 2002 (when they lost four in a row), and at 5-9 and 4-10 respectively, neither of their AFC East rivals seem like a legitimate threat, on paper at least …
Other positives coming out this week were the announcement that Tom Brady and Stephon Gilmore were both voted onto the Pro Bowl roster. For Brady, this is nothing new as he’s been voted in 14 times, while Gilmore has only made the cut once before.
Congratulations to our Pro Bowlers, Tom Brady & @BumpNrunGilm0re!— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 19, 2018
Brady ties an NFL record with his 14th career Pro Bowl selection.
More notes: https://t.co/6glDMB9WJV pic.twitter.com/tjyz2JTfhH
“Steph’s had a good year. I thought he had a good year for us last year,” Bill Belichick said of the cornerback, according to Patriots.com. “I mean, all players improve as they’ve been in the system longer. He was a good player when he got here. He’s had a good year for us.”
When asked about the importance of home field advantage this week following two losses on the road, Bill responded as only Bill can. ““I think playing well creates an advantage,” he said.
(Brady echoed his coach’s sentiment last week before the Steelers game saying: “It’s not where we play, it’s how we play. We’ve just got to take care of business on our end.”)
While the Pats and Bills are far from strangers, this Buffalo team is very different to the one we saw in October when Derek Anderson was acting as QB now that rookie Josh Allen is back.
“He’s good. He’s had three 100-yard games in a row. He’s the leading rusher. He’s a good player,” Belichick said of Allen.
“I’d say most of Allen’s long runs have been off scrambles,” he explained. “He’s got some designed plays, quarterback draws and keeps and things like that. I’d say most of the big runs have come – the 30, 40-yarders – have come off scrambles.”
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