Monday Night Football Review
The Patriots moved to the top of the AFC playoff standings with a vital 14-10 victory in Buffalo last night. With horrible weather and 30mph winds, quarterback Mac Jones only threw the ball 3 times going 2-3 for 19 yards, but that was enough behind 222 yards on 46 carries to grind out the win and catapult the New England Patriots atop the AFC.
After beating Buffalo the Patriots are now 9-4 with a 7-win streak and a NFL leading +150 point differential. As things stand FiveThirtyEight.com have the Patriots favourites over the Bills to win the AFC East by 76% to 24% and gives them a league best 44% to earn the AFC top seed, which would mean home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye.
The Patriots get a bye in week 14 before traveling to face the Indianapolis Colts, who also have a week 14 bye. The game in week 15 on Saturday 19th will be a critical AFC matchup between two well rested sides with playoff implications.
When it gets cold, this team gets hot
Bill Belichick is as good as anyone when it comes to preparing a team in adverse conditions. With strong winds amplifying any mistakes, it was no surprise that Belichick’s Patriots would turn to their running game and strong defense to see them through.
“We played the way we felt we needed to play to win”, Belichick said. “In the end, we scored enough points. It was a lot of situational football that I thought we, for the most part, handled fairly well. I just have to give the players a lot of credit for being tough, being disciplined, being resilient and dealing with a really good football team and conditions that were somewhat challenging.”
What was a surprise were the three passing attempts, the fewest in Patriots history and the second fewest by any team since the 1970 merger. The Patriots put six offensive linemen on the field for 61% of their snaps, highest in the NFL for five years. The Patriots took the pressure out from the hands of rookie QB Mac Jones and did enough on defense to smother the Bills.
New England Patriots Remaining schedule: BYE, at IND, vs. BUF, vs. JAX, at MIA
Tough road ahead
It definitely could have swung the other way. The Bills had the opportunities to win this game. A little bit more composure from Stefon Diggs, Dawson Knox and Josh Allen and the game would have a different narrative. As it is, the Bills have gone 3-4 since beating the Chiefs and are having their toughness brought into question, while the Patriots are on a seven-game winning streak.
Next up for the Buffalo Bills looms Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium before a repeat against New England in Foxborough in gameweek 16. It's not every week that Josh Allen will have to throw into 30mph winds but the all too familiar sight of the New England Patriots sitting atop the AFC will take leadership, discipline and toughness to bounce back from. The Bills are supposed to be Super Bowl contenders and now need to go out and prove it.
Buffalo Bills Remaining schedule: at TB, vs. CAR, at NE, vs. ATL, vs. NYJ