In what should be a great weekend of NFL matchups, Saturday evening’s game may be one of the most enticing. In the AFC Wild Card round, AFC East foes will square off as the New England Patriots (10-7) take on the Buffalo Bills (11-6). The Bills will host this one at Highmark Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 8:15 pm ET.
This will be the third time these two have played this season. In the first matchup, the Patriots beat the Bills 14-10 in a game that saw Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones only throw three times. That victory took place at Highmark Stadium.
The Bills bounced back, winning on the road against New England at the end of December, 33-21. In the Bills’ victory, quarterback Josh Allen threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
Of note, the Patriots have lost three of their last four games, with their only victory in that time coming in Week 17 when they beat the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars 50-10.
The Bills, on the other hand, come into this playoff game having won four straight. Overall, they are 6-3 when playing at home this year.
The Bills are the slight favorites playing at home. They are -205 to win while the Patriots’ moneyline sits at +172. The spread features New England +4 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 44 (-110).
Currently, the Bills are tied for the third-best odds of winning the Super Bowl at +750. The Patriots are +2200 to win Super Bowl LVI.
By The Numbers
Both of these teams ranked in the top six in terms of scoring this year. The Bills ranked third, averaging 28.4 points per game (26.3 at home). The Patriots ranked sixth, averaging 27.2 points per game (22.6 on the road).
Defensively, these were the best two in all of football. The Bills rank first, averaging just 17 points per game (16.6 at home). The Patriots rank second, allowing 17.8 points (16 on the road).
Can Belichick Work His Magic?
In their first contest with the Bills, head coach Bill Belichick displayed his genius once again by relying heavily on the run game and upset the Bills on the road. Heading into Saturday night, Patriots’ fans are hoping that one of the NFL’s greatest coaches can outsmart his opponent again.
Leading Belichick’s offense is rookie quarterback Mac Jones. This season, Jones threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Jones’ leading receivers are Jakobi Meyers (866 yards, two touchdowns), Kendrick Bourne (800 yards, five touchdowns), and tight end Hunter Henry (603 yards, nine touchdowns).
On the ground, the Patriots have relied primarily on Damien Harris (929 yards, eight touchdowns) but will also give touches to Rhamondre Stevenson (606 yards, five touchdowns).
Defensively, the team stat leaders include Ja’Whaun Bentley (109 tackles), Matthew Judon (12.5 sacks), and J.C. Jackson (eight interceptions).
Bills Out To Prove They are Division’s Best
In a year where they were expected to run away with the AFC East, the Bills were barely able to fend off the Patriots, winning by just one game. After splitting with their division foes in the regular season, they would love to prove they are the best in the AFC East Saturday night.
Josh Allen will lead one of the best offenses in football and the ninth-highest passing attack (252 yards per game). On the year, Allen has thrown for 4,407 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He has also rushed for 763 yards and another six scores.
Allen’s favorite receiver is Stefon Diggs. In 17 games, Diggs has 103 receptions, 1,225 yards, and ten touchdowns.
On the ground, Devin Singletary paces the team with 188 rushes for 870 yards and seven scores.
The top-ranked defense is led by Tremaine Edmunds (108 tackles), Mario Addison (seven sacks), and a pair of defensive backs in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer (five interceptions apiece).
Take The Bills To Win And Cover At Home
This one is tough because it is always hard to bet against Bill Belichick. Still, there are some major concerns for rookie quarterback Mac Jones as he enters his first-ever playoff game.
Not only will he have to overcome the nerves of his first NFL playoff game, but he has played poorly as of late. In fact, in his last five games, he threw just six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Throw on top of that the fact that the Bills have the best scoring defense in the league, and it could be a long day for Patriots’ fans.
Don’t expect this one to get out of hand, but there is a lot of value in the Bills laying just four points.