Sunday afternoon features an AFC East matchup with huge playoff implications as the New England Patriots (8-8) take on the Buffalo Bills (12-3). The Bills will host this one at Highmark Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 pm ET.
For the Patriots, this could be a make-or-break game for their playoff lives. At 8-8, they currently hold the seventh seed in the AFC. However, with both the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers having the same 8-8 record, a win by one of them and a loss by the Patriots would push New England out of the playoffs.
This will undoubtedly be an emotional game for Buffalo, who will be taking the field for the first time since safety Damar Hamlin was taken off the field via ambulance due to a cardiac arrest. With Hamlin beginning his recovery, the Bills will now try to turn their attention towards boosting their playoff seeding moving forward.
For instance, if Buffalo or Kansas City either both win or both lose, the AFC Championship game could potentially be played at a neutral site. Still, with a win and a Kansas City loss, the Bills would overtake the top seed, so they very much will be in it to win it this weekend.
On Sunday, the Bills will be heavy favorites over New England. They are -320 to win, while the Patriots’ moneyline sits at +260. The spread features New England as 7-point underdogs (-110), and the over/under for total points is 43.5.
Can Patriots’ Offense Keep Up With Bills?
With the playoffs on the line, expect head coach Bill Belichick to pull out all of the stops for this one. Still, it will be a challenge for a Patriots’ offense that ranks just 17th in the league, averaging 21.3 points per game, to keep up with Buffalo.
Leading the offense under center is Mac Jones. This season, he has thrown for 2,754 yards, 11 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in 13 games.
On the ground, Rhamondre Stevenson leads the way with 986 yards and five scores on 204 attempts.
Unfortunately, without a dynamic offense and big playmakers, the Patriots will likely have to rely on a defense that ranks fifth in the NFL, allowing just 19.5 points per game (21.1 on the road).
Bills Ready To Get Back On The Field
It was the absolute right decision by the NFL to cancel the game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. After such an emotional toll was taken on all involved, the Bills now must focus on regrouping and taking it to their AFC East rivals.
Luckily for Buffalo, they come into this one boasting one of the best defenses and offenses in the league. On defense, they rank second in the NFL, allowing just 17.5 points per game (16.8 at home).
On offense, they rank fourth overall, averaging 28 points per game (31.3 at home). The offense is led by star quarterback Josh Allen. On the year, he has thrown for 4,029 yards, 32 touchdowns, and just 13 interceptions. He has also rushed for 746 yards and another seven scores.
Allen’s favorite target continues to be Stefon Diggs. In 15 games, Diggs has 101 receptions for 1,325 yards and 10 scores.
Take Buffalo To Win And Cover
Looking at the trends, New England is just 2-4 straight up and 1-5 against the spread in their last six games. Furthermore, they are just 1-5 in their last six games against the Bills.
As for Buffalo, they are 10-1 in their last 11 home games and 6-0 in their last six games overall. Of note, the total has gone UNDER in seven of the last nine games that the Bills have played against AFC teams.
From a personnel standpoint, the Bills come into this one with a far superior team. The real question will be the emotional state of Buffalo. It certainly isn’t an easy thing to bounce back from, but expect head coach Sean McDermott to have his guys ready Sunday afternoon.
Take the Bills to not only win this one, but to cover the 7-point spread (-110) as well.