NFL Wild Card Round Preview - New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

NFL Wild Card Round Preview - New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

Barry Devoe
1 year ago
3 min read
NFL Wild Card Round Preview - Patriots vs. Bills

The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills are quite familiar with one another from their time as AFC East rivals. After playing one another twice this season and splitting those matchups, they will face off one final time on Wild Card weekend. With the road team winning each of their regular season confrontations this season, the rubber match could go either way, with the Bills coming in as 4.5-point favorites.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots fell short in their bid to win the AFC East in Week 18, losing to the Miami Dolphins while the Buffalo Bills beat the New York Jets. Even if the Patriots had won against the Dolphins, the Bills’ victory at home over New York would have been the end of the division race. Now, the Patriots will turn their attention to trying to win their second game in Orchard Park this season.

New England’s first win against the Bills came in adverse weather conditions, with Bill Belichick drawing up a game plan that resulted in just three pass attempts from Mac Jones. Assuming more normal weather conditions here, the Patriots will need more from Jones to avoid predictability on offense. They will also have a much tougher time defending the Bills’ passing attack in an environment where high winds won’t curb Josh Allen for them.

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo clinched the AFC East last week with a 17-point win over the New York Jets. Things were tight throughout the game until the fourth quarter when the Bills pulled away with two touchdowns to seal the division. This week, the Bills will not be able to afford being in a tight game deep into the second half again, as that could cost them against arguably the greatest coach in NFL history.

The Bills will look to replicate their win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium during the regular season, where they scored into the 30s thanks largely to their ability to throw the football. The question for Buffalo in this game will be whether they are able to free up Stefon Diggs enough to move the ball effectively throughout. Bill Belichick is a master of taking away an opponent’s top receiving option, and whether or not that happens could decide the outcome of this Wild Card matchup.

Keys to the Game

For the Patriots, the top key to this game is going to be Mac Jones. The running game of the Patriots has been a consistent weapon for them throughout this season, even as they have had to plug in backups at different points of the year. This is Jones’ first playoff start, though, and he will need to be poised and accurate from the start for the Patriots to avoid falling into a hole early.

The top key to this game for the Bills is whether or not they can get anything out of their running game. Josh Allen is a known quantity at this point and is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. But the running game of the Bills has been a pronounced weakness over the last couple of seasons, and the Bills will need to get some kind of production on the ground if they want to make things easier on their aerial attack.

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