FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England’s 15-game winning streak over the Buffalo Bills is over. Now the Patriots are preparing for another improving team that struggled the past decade.

The Oakland Raiders – eight years without a winning record – are 2-1. The Bills, who have one winning season in the past 11, snapped its slide against the Pats with a 34-31 victory Sunday.

So the Patriots have plenty to prepare for against a team they haven’t played in three years.

“We studied them quite a bit in the offseason to become familiar with them because we hadn’t played them since ’08,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. “That’s a good football team and it looks like they’re getting better.”

Sunday’s game matches the NFL’s top passing offense, led by Tom Brady’s 442.3 yards per game, against the No. 1 rushing game with Darren McFadden, who leads the NFL with 131 yards per game.

“They definitely like to run the ball,” Belichick said. “They throw enough deep balls and they do enough in the passing game to make you worry about that, too. You can’t just stop one thing. They’re certainly a very good running team, one of the best that we’ll face.”


McFadden ran for a career-high 171 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 34-24 win over the New York Jets. One week earlier the Raiders built a 21-3 lead at Buffalo but lost 38-35 on a touchdown pass with 14 seconds left. Then it was the Patriots’ turn to blow a big lead against the Bills, who overcame a 21-0 deficit Sunday.

That left the Bills at 3-0. Belichick knows it could have been the Raiders with the unbeaten record.

They’re “really a couple of seconds away from being 3-0,” he said, “very explosive, got a lot of big pass guys, playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Patriots also had a good shot at a 3-0 record when they built their lead. It was 31-31 when the Bills got the ball at their 20 after a touchback on a kickoff with 3:25 left. They needed just three plays to get to the 1, then worked the clock down until Rian Lindell’s winning 28-yard field goal on the final play.


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