Here are five things to know about the New England Patriots (11-3, first in AFC East) ahead of their matchup with the Bills next week at Gillette Stadium:
1. Last game: The Patriots lucked out and won a wild game, beating the Steelers, 27-24. Tom Brady's magical two-minute offense gave the Patriots a go-ahead touchdown with 56 seconds to play, but the Steelers drove down the field thanks to a long gain from JuJu Smith-Schuster. It appeared Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Jesse James for a touchdown to take the lead back with 34 seconds left, but the call was overturned on a controversial review. Roethlisberger was intercepted later on the drive, which allowed the Patriots to run out the clock and clinch another AFC East title. Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.
2. A Bills-Patriots game that matters? Sunday's game is big for both teams, with the Bills still fighting for wild-card contention and the Patriots fighting for home-field advantage. When was the last time these teams played a meaningful game this late in the year? The Bills and Patriots played in Week 17 of the 2014 season, but Brady and other starters came out at halftime with their seeding already wrapped up. You might have to go all the way back to 2002, when they met in Week 14. The Patriots were tied for the division lead with Miami at 7-5 while the Bills entered at 6-6, but they were tied with the Jets for third in the division and were in the back of the pack in a crowded wild-card race. Before that you might have to go back to their Week 16 meeting in 1999. The Patriots were on the outside looking in at 7-7, but the Bills were close to locking up their most recent playoff berth, improving to 10-5 with an overtime victory at Foxboro Stadium.
3. Hogan update: Patriots receiver and former Bill Chris Hogan has been dealing with a shoulder injury since the end of October. He progressed to be a limited participant in practice two weeks ago and played in their Monday night game against the Dolphins in Week 14, logging one catch on five targets. Hogan was a limited participant again last week but was a surprise inactive for Sunday night's AFC showdown against the Steelers. The Patriots instead started the newly acquired Kenny Britt, whom they signed on Tuesday to a two-year deal after he was waived by the winless Browns.
4. Brady looking to cushion record: By beating the Bills in their last meeting, Brady became the NFL player with the most wins against a single opponent in league history, with 27. That broke a tie with Roethlisberger's 26 wins over the Browns. The Steelers still face the Browns one more time this season, so a win would give Brady a cushion on his record.
5. Dominant at home: The Patriots are known for defending their home turf, especially late in the year. Brady is 30-4 all-time in December home games. The Bills have 32 December wins over their entire playoff drought, dating back to 2001.