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Pregame primer: Bills vs. Patriots (plus five things I'm looking for)

Games in the regular season don't get much bigger than this.

The Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots at 1 p.m. Sunday inside Ralph Wilson Stadium. For the second straight week, the Bills sold out their RV lot a full day before the game. Here are all the details you need to know, for both the tailgate and game:

• Weather report: A mix of sun and clouds, high 66 degrees, winds less than 10 mph. A beautiful last weekend of the summer.

• TV: Ch. 4. Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play by play), Rich Gannon (color analyst).

• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).

• Series history: Patriots lead, 67-42-1. Last meeting: Dec. 28, 2014, 17-9 Bills' win at New England.

• Milestone watch: The Bills' next rushing touchdown will be the 700th in franchise history. Additionally, coach Rex Ryan can become the first coach in team history to start his career 2-0.

• Uni watch: Like in the home opener against the Colts, the Bills are going with an all-white look against the Patriots, but with their usual charging buffalo helmet as opposed to the throwback red standing buffalo.

 

• Special events: Vanessa Williams will sing the national anthem. At halftime, former Bills General Manager Bill Polian will receive his Hall of Fame ring. Polian, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month, served as the Bills' general manager from 1985-93.

• Next up: The Bills hit the road for the first time in 2015, visiting AFC East rival Miami at 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 in Week Three.

Once Sunday's game begins, here are five things I'll be paying particular attention to:

1. The backfield. Running back LeSean McCoy left practice early Thursday with tightness in his hamstring. He's officially listed as questionable for the game. Even if he's able to play, it wouldn't be a surprise to see rookie Karlos Williams see more carries Sunday. He was the Bills' best running back in Week One against Indianapolis.

2. The return of Marcell Dareus. The Bills' Pro Bowl defensive tackle served his suspension in Week One. He will return Sunday to a matchup against Patriots rookie center David Andrews. That's a matchup the Bills will have to take advantage of.

3. Defending Gronk. How do the Bills cover Amherst native and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski? There is no easy answer to that question, as Gronkowski has proven to be one of the most dominant players in the NFL at his position. The job likely won't fall to one defender. Expect the Bills to send waves of defenders at Gronkowski.

4. Sammy Watkins. The Bills' No. 1 receiver went without a catch in the season opener. Not much should be made of that after such convincing win, but there's no question the Bills need Watkins to play a big part in their offense moving forward.

5. The crowd. Just how loud can it get? Bills fans will try to set a world record for loudest crowd noise at a sporting event. That's all part of what should be a raucous atmosphere. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said (correctly) this week the crowd will be as loud as his team allows it to be. Bills fans need to show the New England coach just how loud that can be.

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