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Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots Week 13 preview

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© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

 

Welcome to the first Bills vs. Patriots matchup of the 2022 NFL season. Buffalo's not exactly where they'd like to be, both in the AFC East standings and in the playoff positioning, but the same goes for Bill Belichick's Patriots team.

 

Yet there's a big difference between the two. In New England, you have a quarterback that much of the public remains unsure of. Whereas in Buffalo, we know what Josh Allen can do, but maybe it's time to reign him in a bit when it comes to his recent red zone mistakes. Yet, there's no one doubting what the gunslinger can do when he's at his best.

 

Defensively, both teams are right where they were a season ago, meaning two top-10 units that can help stifle even the best offenses in football. 

 

Both teams enter with a chip on their shoulder. After all, it is a rivalry game pitting a has-been franchise against one on the rise in the Buffalo Bills. But where does that get us on Thursday night?

Buffalo Bills vs. Patriots game details, where to watch

  • Thursday, December 1, 2022
  • Start time: 8:15 PM ET
  • TV channel - Amazon Prime Video
  • Location - Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts

 

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© Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Matchups to watch

  • Josh Allen vs. Bill Belichick

 

In most cases, Bills Fans would be right to feel 100% confident heading into a matchup against New England. Last time we checked, no one else has Josh Allen at QB. 

 

Sure, Belichick has held Allen below his career average of 240 YPG in his seven starts against the Pats, holding him to 216 YPG, but Buffalo's gotten the win in four of their past five matchups. 

 

This includes a magnificent 374-yard, five-passing touchdown performance in the Wild Card round back in January to kick the Patriots out of contention.

 

Yet, the Bills haven't faced a defense like this in 2022. The Patriots enter the matchup leading the NFL in hurries while also having the second most pressures and sacks created through 11 games. 

 

They have absolutely no trouble getting pressure, which could be a big theme on Thursday if Ken Dorsey doesn't have the protection scheme figured out in his first test against New England since becoming offensive coordinator. One specific player to keep an eye on is pass rusher Matt Judon, who leads the NFL with 13 sacks. 

 

  • Mac Jones vs. Leslie Frazier

 

For most of the season, Mac Jones appeared closer to getting benched than he did to figuring things out. Only, that changed in a big way on Thanksgiving when he threw for a new career-high 382 passing yards against the Minnesota Vikings in a losing effort. 

 

Loss aside, where did this version of the Patriots' pass offense come from? Jones had been averaging just 198 yards per game in seven previous starts. Now, we won't kid ourselves, the Vikings have the NFL's worst pass defense in yards allowed, and they were missing a few spare parts, as the Bills are too.

 

Yet, don't expect Jones to carry over his success from Week 12 into Week 13. Sure, the Bills have allowed four 300-yard passers this season, but they're also likely to get a few more snaps out of Tre'Davious White after the All-Pro corner was limited to just 16 plays against Detroit.

 

Even with their injuries on defense, the Bills should have a brilliant game plan to continue restricting Jones, who averaged just 82 yards per game in his two previous regular-season starts against Leslie Frazier's unit.

 

  • Buffalo Bills' special teams unit needs to be at its best

 

One factor that we've seen bite the Bills in recent times is their special teams' play. While some advanced measures have the Bills as the best special teams unit through 12 Weeks, there are a few areas that could certainly improve. 

 

Specifically, we're looking at their kick and punt units, which have both allowed big returns, such as Detroit's Kalif Raymond scampering for a 41-yard punt return. 

 

Buffalo can't afford any missed tackles this week against Patriots returner Marcus Jones, who ended up being the difference-maker in their last-second win over the Jets in Week 11 by returning a punt 85 yards to the house for the game-winning score

 

We may not expect this game to be that close, but factors such as big returns on special teams could change the outcome in a major way. 

 

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© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills vs. Patriots game prediction

  • This season's record: Buffalo Bills 8-3, 2nd in AFC East
  • New England Patriots: 6-5, 4th in AFC East

 

While it's not expected to snow, up to 38 mph wind gusts are in the forecast for Thursday Night Football. We know Allen has the catapult to cut through such wind, and Jones does not, but that doesn't mean a few errant footballs might not go awry. No matter what conditions they play in, the Bills are the better team, and it all starts at the QB position. 

 

Vegas favoring the Bills by 4.5 points on the road feels pretty fair. The Patriots are known to be a tough out, and the offense has 26 points in two of their past three games, but this still feels like a scoring attack that doesn't have the weapons to hang with the AFC's best.

 

Game prediction: Bills 24, Patriots 17 - Bills victory

 

Go Bills!!

 

Related:

Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions Week 12 preview

Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns Week 11 Preview

Buffalo Bills vs. Minnesota Vikings Week 10 preview

 

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