FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When New England Patriots players gathered earlier in the week for a team meeting, coach Bill Belichick stressed that their 9-2 record doesn’t mean anything. Quarterback Tom Brady relayed the point that Belichick was making.
“I think Coach said it best the other day: He said whether you’re 5-5 at this point or 10-0, it really depends on what we do going forward. Because I was here in 2001, when we were 5-5 and we ended up not losing a game after that, [but] a few years ago (2015) we were 10-0 and the season didn’t end very well,” Brady said. “I think so much of your season is dependent on how we’re going to do at this point moving forward. We put ourselves in decent position but we’re going to have to go capitalize.”
This is the time of year when Brady often shifts into a higher gear, as his 54-10 career record in December gives him the second-highest winning percentage (.844) among quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era (Roger Staubach is first at 17-3, .850).
Brady’s 54 December wins are the most ever by a quarterback, followed by Brett Favre’s 52 and Peyton Manning’s 49.
Brady leads off this week’s “final walk-through” for Sunday’s road game against the Bills:
Gilmore’s return to Buffalo: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore kept a noticeably low profile with reporters this week, which seemed to be in response to not wanting his return to Buffalo to be a big storyline. It is Gilmore’s first game in Buffalo, where he spent the first five years of his career, since signing with the Patriots in March. Last week, he said of his time with the Bills: “That was a good experience and I think Buffalo helped my life out -- slow pace -- at the beginning of my career."
Stat of the week: The Patriots have won 13 straight road games, which is the second-longest streak in NFL history behind the 18 straight road games that the 49ers won from 1988-90.
Quote of the week: “Not at a tailgate, but I’ve been through tables before, for sure. Like at family get-togethers.” – Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he ever went through a table at a Bills tailgate growing up.
Steratore is referee: Veteran referee Gene Steratore has been assigned the Patriots-Bills game.
CBS’ top team on the call: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analysis) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline) will call the game. Belichick had been asked Friday about his time with Romo this season, and shared how he was impressed.
Prediction: The Patriots are tied for third in the NFL with a plus-9 turnover differential (16 takeaways, 7 giveaways) while the Bills are tied for sixth at plus-6 (19 takeaways, 13 giveaways), so this is a game between two teams that seldom beat themselves. That is why the red zone could ultimately decide the victor, and if it's the Patriots, Brady will break a tie with Favre for most wins (27) over a single opponent in a career (Favre had 26 wins over the Lions). Tyrod Taylor is the type of mobile quarterback whose ability to extend plays can give the Patriots fits, so expect a close one. Patriots 27, Bills 24.