Could James Harrison be a fit for OLB-DE needy Patriots?

James Harrison was surprisingly waived by the Steelers on Saturday, but could the Patriots find a niche role for him? AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have been thin at defensive end/outside linebacker for most of the season, and on Saturday, veteran James Harrison was surprisingly waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Would they consider claiming or signing him?

That was a popular question on twitter, and it had me revisiting some of the comments Bill Belichick has made about Harrison in recent years.

"Very similar to how it's always looked over there -- very explosive, powerful guy, good pass-rusher, good edge setter, good tackler, instinctive player, tough [and] physical," Belichick said of Harrison before the 2015 season opener. "He looks pretty much the same as he has in the past. I know there is an age difference, but he's kind of defying that. He looks good."

Harrison, 39, has played just 40 defensive snaps all season for the Steelers. That begs the question how much he has left in the tank.

But for a Patriots defense that is matchup based, if Belichick and coordinator Matt Patricia felt that Harrison could provide value in a niche role -- and also fit in the locker room -- it wouldn't cost much salary-wise.

Such a move would be similar to when the team brought back veteran Andre Carter in 2013.

The Patriots have Trey Flowers atop the depth chart at their end-of-the-line position, with rookie Deatrich Wise and Eric Lee behind him. The team also uses linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Trevor Reilly and Marquis Flowers at the end of the line, depending on the package.

The possibility of the Patriots exploring Harrison leads off the "final walkthrough" for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Bills:

Back at home: This marks just the Patriots' second home game since their Nov. 5 bye, with receiver Danny Amendola saying, "We love playing home games and anticipating a lot of enthusiastic fans at the game."

Stat of the week: With a win, the Patriots will record their eighth straight season of 12 wins or more. The record for 12-win seasons (since the 1970 merger) is 13, set by San Francisco.

Quote of the week: "I just made that catch because that's where Tom finally threw it. He had a bad ball for once." -- Rob Gronkowski, on the level of difficulty of his take-it-off-the-shoe-tops catch against the Steelers.

Wrolstad gets the call: Craig Wrolstad has been assigned as referee. He worked the Patriots' win over the Saints back in Week 2.

CBS top broadcasting team: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analysis) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline) are on the call for the CBS broadcast (1 p.m. ET).

Prediction: The Patriots lead the NFL in red zone takeaways (six), with one of them proving to be a huge play the last time these teams met -- Eric Lee's end zone interception to thwart the Bills' impressive, time-consuming first drive. That bend-but-don't-break philosophy has been key for a defense that has been vulnerable in certain areas (for example, ranking last in opponents' average yards per rush at 4.9). With a victory, Tom Brady will stand alone in NFL history with a total of 12 seasons with at least 12 wins, and he should be the difference in this contest, as he is now off the injury report (Achilles) and practicing fully. Patriots 27, Bills 20