ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Credit Bill Belichick for this: New England’s coach might be the only one capable of making the Buffalo Bills out to resemble a juggernaut.

Doesn’t matter how many times the Patriots have beaten the Bills this decade – New England’s won six straight and 11 of the past 12. And forget that the Patriots (4-1) are predictably back atop the AFC East, while division rival Buffalo (2-4) is experiencing the telltale troubles that come with yet another rebuilding year under yet another new coach, this time Dick Jauron.

Ever the indulgent worrywart, Belichick found reason to fret, making the Patriots seem like heavy underdogs rather than 5-point favorites against the Bills today.

“I don’t know if you happened to watch any of those games or not, but I know what kind of players and what kind of competitors they are,” Belichick said, before running down the roster for emphasis. “I’ve seen (Terrence) McGee return kickoffs for touchdowns. I’ve seen us get beaten by (Lee) Evans and (Willis) McGahee and (Josh) Reed last year. … We know we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

To hear him talk, Reed scoring a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown in New England’s 35-7 win last season has kept Belichick up at night; and the Patriots are still reeling from a 31-0 loss to Buffalo, even though it was three years ago.

And there’s always the last game. Belichick considers his team fortunate to rally from a 17-7 deficit to beat Buffalo 19-17 to open this season.

His message, of course, is simple. In a parity-stunted NFL, in which Arizona can come minutes from beating Chicago and winless Tennessee can knock off Washington, there’s no team New England can take for granted.

The Patriots, rested after a bye week, are certainly buying in.

“We can’t afford to look past anybody,” defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. “Whatever team we’re facing presents a lot of problems. It’s any given Sunday in this league and you can lay an egg.”

The Patriots have laid few, their only loss this season a 17-7 decision to Denver in Week 3. New England, which hasn’t dropped two straight since December 2002, bounced back to win its next two and is off to its second best start in seven years – continuing to roll despite an injury-riddled and free agent-depleted lineup.

It’s the Bills who have yet to find any semblance of consistency, having lost two straight, including a 20-17 head-scratcher against the previously winless Detroit Lions last week.

Finding a way to beat New England then becomes a necessity for a team in jeopardy of falling out of the AFC East race.

“The mind-set is we are desperate for a win,” receiver Peerless Price said. “None of us in this locker room should be satisfied being 2-4, that’s for sure.”

“We have to get things rolling,” added quarterback J.P. Losman. “And we have to stop talking about it and do it.”

The Bills remain a work in progress.

Their offense has yet to produce more than 20 points or more than two touchdowns in a game this season. Buffalo’s McGahee-led running attack is stuck in neutral, held to under 100 yards in each of its last three games. And Losman is suddenly committing more turnovers, five in his past two games, than producing touchdown drives (three).

The defense isn’t much better, thinned by injuries and starting two rookie safeties.

Buffalo is suddenly susceptible against the run, allowing 287 yards rushing in its past two games, and having difficulty pressuring quarterbacks, generating just six sacks in its past four outings.

So much for the happy memories of the team’s 2-2 start, which included an almost-win against the Patriots.

“That was what, six games ago?” linebacker London Fletcher said. “You can’t look back at what happened in that game or hang your hat on anything.”

The Patriots haven’t forgotten that game, particularly Tom Brady. Besides being limited to 30 yards passing in the first half, he was sacked on the first play from scrimmage, fumbling the ball, which was returned by Fletcher for a touchdown.

“Being down seven like five seconds into the year was not really what I was dreaming of the night before the game,” Brady said. “I’m sick of seeing that play. I’ve seen it probably 30 times in the last six weeks. I’m trying to put that one out of my mind.”


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