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Patriots in the driver's seat of AFC East

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Patriots in the driver's seat of AFC East

FOXBORO -- As ugly as it was, the Patriots still came away from Sunday's 37-31 win over the Bills one step closer to an AFC East division title. Their 6-3 record (3-0 in the division) puts them in the driver's seat to win the AFC East for the fourth straight season.

"It wasn't pretty," Deion Branch said afterward. "But we'll take the 'W.' "

With it, the Patriots gave themselves some cushion.

New England's closest competition in the division, Miami, fell to 4-5 overall (1-1 in the division) after their 37-3 loss to the Titans on Sunday.

The Jets also lost on Sunday, dropping their game against the Seahawks, 28-7. Rex Ryan's bunch is now 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the division.

The Bills are 3-6 overall and 0-3 in the division after Sunday's game with the Patriots, and they know the lights are dimming quickly on their playoff hopes.

"We only got seven left games now," Bills defensive end Mario Williams said. "Pretty much get that Wild Card spot or whatever. I haven't looked at it. I don't even know if that's the right terminology to say. For us to get to where we wanna go, we gotta win out pretty much. We can't keep losing like this."

New England still has two games remaining with Miami, and one game left with the Jets on Thanksgiving.

Given the inconsistency of their divisional competition, however, it's looking more and more like the question is not if the Patriots will win the AFC East, but what their playoff seed will be when they do.

Miller, Krejci game-time decisions tonight; O'Gara called up

Miller, Krejci game-time decisions tonight; O'Gara called up

BRIGHTON, Mass – It wouldn’t be a Bruins game this season if there weren’t some health question marks entering a game night, so the B’s will once again have a few players up in the air for the lineup tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.

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David Krejci (back) and Kevan Miller (upper body) were both on the ice prior to morning skate and Krejci participated in the optional practice, along with Patrice Bergeron and a handful of others on Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. Krejci and Miller were termed game-time decisions based on the way things went this morning and Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy could have more lineup juggling in front of him based on those players.

Krejci said he was taking things “day-by-day”, but didn’t think it was going to be a long-term injury even if he misses the game.

“We’ll kind of take it day-by-day and we’ll see. I feel better than two days ago, so I guess we’ll be taking it day-by-day,” said Krejci. “I got hit in the last game and that forced me to leave the game. It’s a brand new injury and it just happened the other day. So that’s what it is.

“I don’t think it’s an injury that would be long term. It’s just one of these things that happens [during the games]. I wouldn’t lie to you if it was something that was a week or two weeks. We’ll just see how I feel later tonight. Injuries happen to every team. Hopefully, this is it for us here early in the season, and down the stretch, we’ll be healthy pushing for the playoffs.”

First the definite situations for the Black and Gold: Bergeron will play for the second game in a row and Paul Postma will be in the lineup, with Adam McQuaid shelved for the next couple of months with a broken leg. Beyond that, the Bruins could swing Miller from the left side to the right side if he plays, Charlie McAvoy could be added to the penalty kill and David Backes could end up playing some center if Matt Beleskey draws back into the lineup.

“We’ll probably move people around. [David] Backes, [Tim] Schaller has played some center over the years and obviously [Patrice] Bergeron looks like he’s going to play,” said Cassidy. “I think we’ll be okay. We sat out a forward the [Thursday vs. the Canucks], so we’ll move people around.

“Kevan will be a game-time decision, so we had a discussion about that and we’ll look into that as well. [Krejci] got hit in the lower back the other night, tried to finish and it’s one of those ones where at puck drop we’ll know.”

Robbie O’Gara popped on the Bruins roster on their team website early on Saturday afternoon, so the Yale alum will get the call if Miller can’t answer the bell on Saturday night. Another piece of good news: Noel Acciari skated with the injured players ahead of the morning skate and appears to be progressing slowly from his broken finger.  

Anything, it seems, is possible for these banged-up B’s as another body drops with each passing game or practice. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Sabres based on an optional morning skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Schaller-Nash-Backes

Beleskey-Kuraly-Agostino

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

O’Gara/Miller-Postma

 
Khudobin