AFC East rivals Buffalo and New England will meet in the playoffs for just the second time ever and first since 1963. The Bills will host the Patriots after winning their second straight divisional title and breaking a tie with a win in the season finale. New England enters the playoffs as a wild card for the first time under coach Bill Belichick.
New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
Saturday, January 15, 2022 – 08:15 PM EST at Highmark Stadium
AFC East rivals Buffalo and New England will meet in the playoffs for just the second time ever and first since 1963. The Bills will host the Patriots on Saturday in the NFL Super Wild Card Weekend, after winning their second straight divisional title.
The Bills beat the Jets while the Patriots were upset by Miami to break a tie entering the regular season’s final week. Buffalo enters at 11-6, while New England is 10-7. The Bills moved into the No. 3 seed in the AFC with the Week 18 win, while the Patriots fell from 5 to 6 with their loss, keeping the two rivals in line to face each other to open the playoffs.
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New England is in a rare position, entering the postseason as a Wild Card for the first time since Bill Belichick took over as head coach. Buffalo and New England split their two regular-season meetings, with each team winning on the road.
The Patriots started December by winning a 14-10 game in Buffalo with high winds playing havoc with both offenses. The Bills evened the score with a 33-21 win in Foxborough the day after Christmas.
Taking on Water
The Patriots struggled down the stretch. The win in Buffalo led into a late-season bye week, and New England hasn’t been the same team since returning to the field. The home loss to Buffalo and season-ending loss at Miami were part of a 1-3 stretch in the regular season’s final four weeks. A blowout of lowly Jacksonville was the only win in the final month.
The Patriots also saw several players go down in last week’s loss to the Dolphins. Offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn hurt his ankle prior to halftime. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson and defensive back Sean Davis also didn’t make it out of the first half. Stevenson suffered a head injury, while Davis hurt his shoulder. Defensive lineman Christian Barmore also went down late in the game.
Mac Jones will become just the 24th rookie quarterback to start a playoff game and will look to be the first to win since Russell Wilson in 2012—John Wolford started a game last season but went down to injury early in the game.
Things could change as the week goes on, of course, but it appears that Buffalo’s top postseason ally—winter weather—will be ready for the game. Winds aren’t supposed to reach double digits, so a repeat of the early December chaos isn’t likely, but temperatures should be in the teens, and there’s a 30-40 percent chance of snow.
Buffalo’s defense should also pose a challenge for New England’s rookie quarterback. He threw just three passes in the wind tunnel during his first visit to Buffalo, and he had a zero-touchdown, two-interception day in the rematch in New England. Jones also struggled against Miami last weekend, throwing a pick-six and calling his performance against the Dolphins “embarrassing”.
The Bills enter the postseason on a four-game winning streak, but only the win at New England was against a team with a winning record. Buffalo’s offense is rolling—Josh Allen had a 100 passer rating against the Patriots in their last matchup. Special teams are a concern, however. Punter Matt Haack had a nightmare day against the Jets and coach Sean McDermott has been shuffling return men, looking for a spark in that aspect of the game.
On paper, everything seems to be pointing in the Bills’ direction, but strange things happen in the postseason, especially when Bill Belichick is game planning on the opposite side. But with the weather promising to be frigid and Belichick leaning on a rookie passer. For your NFL picks, look for the Buffalo defense to hold the day.
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