A divisional rivalry in the playoffs in frozen-tundra-like conditions. You won’t find much more of a classic feel in the NFL than that recipe.
But the AFC East rivalry that will be seen on Saturday night up in Buffalo with temperatures expected to be around 9 degrees could very well continue the stark shift in power that is leaning the Bills away. Though the New England Patriots with their rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, will be keen on proving that they are still a force to contend with not only in the division but in the AFC.
The Patriots’ recent resume is one of the most impressive the game of football has ever seen.
This will be their 18th playoff appearance since 2001 — a 21-year stretch that has included six Super Bowl titles under the watch of head coach Bill Belichick.
But this is the first time the Patriots will compete in the playoffs without Tom Brady, having missed out last season. This time around, it’s on the Alabama product Jones to continue the tradition of Patriot assaults on the Super Bowl that have become commonplace over the last two decades.
New England, however, is entering the playoffs as a wild card team for the first time during this 20-year stretch. The AFC East belongs to the Bills, who now have divisional crowns in two successive seasons for the first time since the 1990s.
Don’t forget the unfinished business, either.
The Bills, fueled by a staunch defense and the All-Pro battery between quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, came one game short of the Super Bowl last season — bowing out to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game. They haven’t been to the Super Bowl since January of 1994, which provided the final loss of an unprecedented run of four straight appearances in the big game which all ended in defeat.
This is the first time since 1963 that these two teams are meeting in the playoffs. Let’s hope Saturday night’s affair (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS) won’t be the last for another 59 years, either, as we’ll watch two great offenses and two of the league’s very best defenses square off.
Patriots vs. Bills AFC Wild Card Tale of the Tape
|No. 6 Patriots||Stat||No. 3 Bills|
|10-7 (2nd, AFC East)||Record||11-6 (1st AFC East)|
|27.2 (6th in NFL)||Points/game||28.4 (3rd in NFL)|
|226.9 (14th in NFL)||Passing yards/game||252.0 (9th in NFL)|
|126.5 (8th in NFL)||Rushing yards/game||129.9 (6th in NFL)|
|17.8 (2nd in NFL)||Points allowed/game||17.0 (1st in NFL)|
|187.1 (2nd in NFL)||Passing yards allowed/game||163.0 (1st in NFL)|
|123.7 (22nd in NFL)||Rushing yards allowed/game||109.7 (13th in NFL)|
Patriots vs. Bills AFC Wild Card Players to Watch
- Mac Jones, QB, NE: 67.6% completion rating, 3,801 yards, 22 TD, 13 INT
- Damien Harris, RB, NE: 202 carries, 929 rushing yards, 15 TD
- Jakobi Meyers, WR, NE: 83 receptions, 866 yards, 2 TD
- Matt Judon: 60 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 25 QB hits, 14 tackles for loss
- Josh Allen, QB, BUF: 63.3% completion rating, 4,407 yards passing yards, 763 rushing yards, 42 total TD, 15 INT
- Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF: 103 receptions, 1,225 yards, 10 TD
- Devin Singletary, RB, BUF: 1,098 total yards, 8 TD
- Jordan Poyer, S, BUF: 93 tackles, 5 INT, 3.0 sacks, 8 tackles for loss
Patriots vs. Bills AFC Wild Card Odds
- Spread: Bills -3.5
- Over/under: 42.5
- Patriots Moneyline: +160
- Bills Moneyline: -190
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
A version of this first ran on AMNY.com