FOXBORO, Mass. — There have been some strong messages circulating through the New England locker room this week as the Patriots prepare for their regular-season finale against the Bills, and it would be shocking if the Patriots came out flat Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Of the things heard by the Patriots, they were "embarrassed" by their Week 3 loss in Buffalo, and as such, they would love to give the Bills some payback.
"Those guys, we owe them one," defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said. "They beat us earlier this season. I'm pretty sure they're riding high coming in. They haven't beaten us a lot lately, but I'm pretty sure it'll feel good for them to come in and sweep us."
The Patriots have also heard the talk from the Bills, who badly want to sweep New England for the first time since 1999. The Pats are actually trying to avoid their first sweep by a division opponent since 2000 when both the Jets and Dolphins did it.
Buffalo already wiped out its 15-game losing streak to New England in Week 3, so it would gladly like to erase another record from New England's book.
The other message has been a sign of caution. On Tuesday, eight Patriots were elected to the Pro Bowl, including an NFL-high seven starters. The Bills, meanwhile, don't have a single Pro Bowler, and the Patriots know they'll have a target on their backs because of that fact.
Of course, the greatest motivational tool involves the No. 1 overall playoff seed, which the Patriots can claim with a victory or losses by both the Ravens and Steelers. Then again, the Patriots know they wouldn't have to worry about wrapping that up this week if they held onto their 21-point lead in Week 3. It's all circling back to that earlier matchup in Buffalo.
"If we handled business back then, we wouldn't be in the position we are right now," Patriots safety James Ihedigbo said. "We definitely owe them one, and we're going to dominate the game. That's the mindset that we're at, sending a message."