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Patriots Are Making Notable Kicking Change Thursday Night

Nick Folk celebrates a game-winning field goal.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 29: Nick Folk #6 of the New England Patriots celebrates after kicking a 50 yard game winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter of the game at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

After a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week, the New England Patriots are back in primetime tonight against the Buffalo Bills. But they'll be utilizing a new kicker for the game.

According to ESPN Patriots insider Mike Reiss, the Patriots are elevating kicker Tristan Vizcaino from the practice squad to the active roster. Per the report, the move is being done specifically with the intention of letting Vizcaino handle kickoffs instead of starting kicker Nick Folk or punter Jake Bailey.

Vizcaino forced touchbacks on four of his six kickoffs with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year. But Folk and Bailey have collectively created touchbacks on just 50-percent of kickoffs.

Folk is still expected to be deployed on field goals and extra points though. He leads the league with 24 field goals made and 28 field goals attempted.

At 6-5 on the season, the Patriots are on the fringes of making the playoffs but have the misfortune of being behind all three of their division rivals in the AFC East. They hold a tiebreaker over the Jets if the two teams finish tied at the end of the year - but they still need to get wins over the Bills and Dolphins for that to matter.

Bill Belichick is always one step ahead though and while this move may not seem too necessary, it could be the difference in just a few valuable yards in tonight's game.

The Patriots-Bills game will be played at 8:00 p.m. and will air on Amazon Prime Video.