WHERE: Highmark Stadium
WHEN: Jan 15, 8:15pm ET
SPREAD: Bills -4 | O/U 44 points
The number three seed Buffalo Bills will host the number six seed New England Patriots in the big AFC East rivalry match of this wildcard weekend. They exchanged wins during the regular season, with the Patriots winning in Buffalo (14-10), and the Bills blowing the Patriots off the field in New England (33-21). The playing conditions this Saturday are going to be even worse than the ones from their first meeting this season, as snow and freezing temperatures are announced once again.
The New England Patriots didn’t end the regular season on a high note, losing three out of their last four games down the stretch. Mac Jones (who had an impressive rookie season) in particular, struggled in the month of December, besides a very good performance against a weak Jacksonville Jaguars team. This doesn’t bode well for the Patriots, who are coming into the postseason with a rookie QB who doesn’t have experience in a playoff environment, and who is also out of form. Mac Jones also played (arguably) his worst games of the season against the Buffalo Bills. Bill Belichick will probably look towards his running game once again for this clash. The Pats definitely have weapons on the ground, as Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden or Rhamondre Stevenson all had very impressive regular seasons. Still, it’s hard to back the Patriots in this match if you don’t trust Jones to create some plays if needed.
The Buffalo Bills finished the regular season in strong fashion, winning their last four games. It has been an up and down season for them, as their highs were impressive, but their lows were extremely worrying. Josh Allen has also been inconsistent this season, especially against the Patriots. He was horrible in their loss in Buffalo, but also balled out in their 33-21 win in New England, throwing for 314 passing yards and three touchdowns. Even though the playing conditions will not be great here, if the offensive line can give him time to throw the ball, I believe he will have a good game. Another thing to mention is how improved Buffalo’s running game looked during the final stage of the regular season, with Devin Singletary heating up at the perfect time for the Bills.
We saw just how much better this Buffalo Bills team is compared to the Patriots when they played in normal playing conditions in New England. While the conditions won’t be optimal in Buffalo this Saturday, I think the Bills learnt a lesson from their first loss against the Patriots this season. With an improved running game, and a better performance from Josh Allen, I expect them to beat the Patriots by more than a touchdown in this game. I think the Bills can cover in this match.
Playoff pick: Buffalo Bills -4 points