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Playing on Sunday would be pretty lucrative for Vince Wilfork

New England Patriots v New York Jets

New England Patriots v New York Jets

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday that the Patriots would do what’s best for the team when deciding who would play and how much they would play in the regular season finale against the Bills.

That may mean giving veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork a rest so that he’s in prime condition for a playoff run that will have a chance to last longer if Wilfork is a force in the middle of the line. Sitting Wilfork would take him out of the line of fire for an injury and it might also take him out of line for a big incentive in his contract.

Wilfork will make a $1.25 million bonus for playing in 70 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this season and another $500,000 if he plays 70 percent of the snaps with the Patriots finishing in the top 10 in points allowed.

Tom Curran of reports that Wilfork has played in 74.1 percent of the snaps so far this season and that the Bills ran 69 offensive plays in the first meeting against the Patriots this year. A repeat without Wilfork in the lineup would drop him just below 70 percent, which would leave quite a bit of money on the table.

With a bye in hand to give them time to rest, we’d be more surprised if the Patriots just benched starters across the board this weekend than if they treated it like a third preseason game that sees extended time for reserves after the starters get their work in during the first half. That would work out well for Wilfork and the team, assuming, of course, no serious injuries crop up.