This Sunday’s AFC East showdown has one team fighting for the top seed throughout the playoffs and another team just trying to get in. The Patriots are currently in the driver’s seat for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A win this weekend will get them one step closer to this scenario. The Bills are fighting with the Ravens, Titans and Chargers for the final two AFC Wild Card spots and to break their 17 year playoff drought. Kickoff inside Gillette Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
These two rivals will meet for the 116th time on Sunday. The Patriots hold the advantage with an all-time record of 71-43-1. New England is also 36-21 at home all-time against Buffalo. Over the last 10 games, the Patriots are 8-2 against the Bills and won the first meeting between these two teams this season.
The Bills (8-6) are 2-4 on the road and come into this matchup winning 3 of their last 4 games. Unfortunately, they play the one team that has owned them since 2001 – the Patriots. One thing Buffalo has going for them is that they’ve won 2 of their last 3 trips to Gillette Stadium. The Bills are hoping that stud receiver Kelvin Benjamin plays this week as he could give the Patriots matchup problems.
The Patriots (11-3) are 4-2 at home and come into this matchup on a high after beating the Steelers for the top spot in the AFC Conference. However, the Patriots can’t afford a slipup because if they do, then the Steelers can get the #1 spot back. Fortunately, the Patriots have the Bills at home where they are 14-2 against Buffalo since 2001.
The spread opened with the Patriots favored by 10 points. Currently, the spread has gone up to 11.5 points in favor of New England. The Over/Under opened at 47 total points and it remains unchanged.
Until the Bills beat the Patriots in a meaningful game, it’s hard to go against the Pats in this rivalry and this game. In my opinion, Tom Brady is the front runner for the MVP trophy and I believe he will have a great game this weekend at home against Buffalo. On the season, Brady has 4,163 yards, 28 TDs and just 7 INTs. Every week, it seems he leads his team to victory. As he continues to defy age, the Patriots continue to win.
The Patriots offense is a juggernaut. Even without Rex Burkhead this weekend, the Patriots still have enough fire power to blow out the Bills. I think this game will be close until the second half when New England opens up the scoring and Buffalo can’t keep pace. Rob Gronkowski might be a marked man this game due to his cheap shot on Bills CB White during their last game, but it won’t matter much as he will make his presence felt on a defense that can’t stop him. Gronk had 147 receiving yards in their first encounter and I can see him hitting the 100 yard mark and a TD in this one. On the season, he has 1,017 yards and 7 touchdown catches.
I also expect Patriots running backs Lewis and White to do a lot of damage out of the backfield as they get into one-on-one matchups with Bills linebackers. Lewis, in particular, had 92 yards rushing against the Bills in their first meeting. Former Bills players Chris Hogan and Mike Gillislee might play this weekend. If they do, I also see them contributing to the offense’s success.
Buffalo’s biggest chance to win this game is picking up first downs and keeping Brady off the field. That will require QB Tyrod Taylor to play a great game, no turnovers and manage the clock. He will have to pick up first downs with his legs and feet. These are all things that Tyrod didn’t do in their first game against the Pats. The Bills only had the ball for 26 minutes, Tyrod threw a costly red zone pick and he ended up being taken from the game with a knee injury.
The Bills will also need McCoy to run the ball well against 7 or 8 man fronts. McCoy has 1,057 yards and 6 TDs on the season, and he will definitely need to make some big plays this weekend for that offense to have success. McCoy’s 93 yards rushing was the only bright spot on a dismal offensive performance against the Pats. The team mustered up just 3 points and 268 total yards.
Ultimately, I think Buffalo will play 3 quarters of solid football before Brady and that offense pull away. Look for New England to focus on McCoy and force Taylor to beat them. Tyrod will be up for it in the first half, but he will shrink in the second half just like he did last weekend against Miami. Buffalo’s defense had a solid game against the Patriots the first time they met earlier this month. I expect them to keep Buffalo in the contest until later in the game.
New England is too much for Buffalo to handle and, unless an injury happens to Brady, the Patriots will win this game 31-17. They will outscore Buffalo 10-0 in the 4th and pull away. Brady will throw for nearly 300 yards and at least 3 TDs in this game, cementing himself as the NFL MVP.
Buffalo is 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 road games and 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games against New England. The Patriots are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games.