© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
That’s not exactly what we wanted, playing the New England Patriots for a third time this season. Both teams likely feel confident in their abilities. After all, they’ve both qualified for the postseason. At least Josh Allen and Co. have been here before. Can’t say the same for Mac Jones in the NFL.
Then the other part is the Pats are backing into the playoffs with a loss, whereas the Bills actually earned the AFC East division crown by fighting until the very end. In the same frame of thought, this could further motivate the Patriots since they recently got their butts whooped. Bill Belichick won’t be pleased losing to a division foe who actually fired their head coach after the win, even if it’s a former disciple of his.
Buffalo Bills Wild Card game details, where to watch
- Saturday, January 15, 2022
- Start time: 8:15 PM ET
- TV channel - CBS
- Location - Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York
© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Matchups to watch
- Sean McDermott vs. Bill Belichick
While a coach vs. coach matchup isn’t one that will be highlighted during the game, that’s largely what this rivalry has come down to. Both coaches are very familiar with one another’s approach by now after facing one another ten times in the past five seasons.
Coach McDermott is 3-7 in those matchups, which isn’t good on the surface. Dig a little more, and you discover he’s won three of his last four matchups. One thing McDermott and his staff have proven is the ability to make adjustments, whether in-game or during the week.
We could go on and on about what makes the Bills great, but we’d be foolish to ignore the accomplishments of Bill Belichick. This guy is the greatest football coach of all time. He’s the only reason the Patriots are even in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter that their QB keeps embarrassing himself. Belichick is the brainchild of their success.
- Bills D vs. Patriots D
It’s the Bills vs. Patriots. Don’t expect a shootout. Expect a bloodbath. This matchup pits the NFL’s top two defenses in points allowed per game against one another. The Bills allow 17 points per game, while the Pats allow 17.8 per.
The opponents share little respect for each other. Any time they lose to their AFC East division rivals, the losing side becomes incensed, even when asking about something as harmless as their New Year’s resolutions.
Naturally, tensions for a playoff game will only heighten emotions on both sides. While both defenses have a strong résumé built up over the course of the season, the Bills have momentum on their side.
- Buffalo Bills points allowed over past four games - 15 PPG
- New England Patriots points allowed over past four games - 25.75 PPG
Finding a way to tap into the same success they experienced in Week 16, crushing the Pats 33-21, the Bills will make Mac Jones wish he could go back to college. After all, the Bills are the only team to hold Jones under a 50% completion rate. This is notable because it appeared Jones had a chance to break the NFL’s completion percentage mark for a rookie until his recent struggles put him far below the record.
He’s not going to suddenly come out firing after the miserable effort he displayed a few weeks prior. Instead, he’ll likely start seeing ghosts early, forcing mistakes in the biggest game of his young career.
- Buffalo Bills vs. The weather
The last time the Patriots visited Highmark Stadium, the weather conditions were horrible. 40 MPH winds led them to run the ball exclusively, which The Herd simply wasn’t prepared for.
This time around, the weather projects to be normal, with some possible light flurries, but a lot can change in a week. As long as they don’t experience the same wicked winds as before, Josh Allen can sling it downfield in a heap, if needed.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills Wild Card game prediction
- This season’s record: Buffalo Bills 11-6 AFC East champions
- New England Patriots 10-7, second place in AFC East
This Wild Card matchup will be a defensive brawl, but it’s still going to place a huge burden on the shoulders of the two quarterbacks. From making audibles and adjustments at the line to executing off-schedule plays like we saw Josh Allen make on Sunday, the Bills hold all the advantages at QB, and it’s not even close.
I’ll give the advantage to Belichick as far as a head-to-head matchup over McDermott, but he never takes the field. Allen does, and he’s head and shoulders above anyone the Patriots have on their roster. And Allen’s supporting cast is pretty damn good too.
The only part about the Pats that should scare anyone is their head coach and defensive efficiency. Nobody on their offense strikes fear. Even they’re scared of their own quarterback throwing the game away. Load up the box, stay true to your gaps and bully them in the trenches. Make the rookie QB try and beat you. If that happens, you live with it.
But I wouldn’t anticipate that happening this year. Vegas seems to agree, favoring the Bills with a four-point spread.
When the Bills take down the Patriots, their next opponent will likely be the Kansas City Chiefs unless the Pittsburgh Steelers do everyone a favor and magically knock them out. Then we’re looking at either the Las Vegas Raiders or the Cincinnati Bengals. If that craziness happens, I’m hoping for a Raiders matchup instead of facing the ever-explosive Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. We also don’t want to face Patrick Mahomes and that improving defense again, despite beating them 38-20 in Week 5.
Basically, root for the Steelers and Raiders, as unlikely as that may be. Most importantly, enjoy this playoff game as a Bills Fan and cheer them on to victory.
Game prediction: 24-20 Bills victory