There are just two weeks remaining in the NFL season and that means that playoff implications are running rampant. One matchup that has unexpected playoff ramifications is the Saturday afternoon clash between the (11-3) New England Patriots and (10-4) Buffalo Bills (4:30 PM ET Saturday on NFL Network).
Simply put, if the Bills win they will be tied, yes tied, with the Patriots for the AFC East crown. You heard that right. It’s week 16 of the NFL season and a team other than the Patriots is still alive to win the divisional title. We touched on this a few weeks ago but not since the Miami Dolphins won in 2008, has a team other than New England been the divisional champion. That’s 10 straight years and almost an entire decade of dominance for the Patriots, who have won 21 AFC East titles overall.
The Bills, who have not won the division since 1995, are looking to change that. Hoping to usher in its own decade of dominance and end this decade on a more positive note, Buffalo is in a great position to win the AFC East. They just need to win on Saturday but that’s a lot harder than it seems.
Over their history, the Bills and Patriots have played each other 119 times. The results have been overwhelmingly in favor of the Patriots, who have won 75 of those games. That’s a 63% winning strike-rate. For Buffalo, the numbers are a lot worse over the recent period. Since December 17th, 2000, the Patriots have defeated the Bills in 34 of the team’s 38 meetings. Let that sink in. In the past 19 years, Buffalo has defeated New England just four times, the most recent of which came three years ago in October 2016.
Now, that’s not to say the Bills can’t beat the Patriots. It’s just to say they haven’t, at least not recently. Such is always the case when you look at statistics from a historical lens. That said, this is not 2000, this is not 2018. This is not even September 2019, when the Patriots just barely squeaked by the Bills by a final of 16-10. This is December 2019 and Buffalo may be in its best position to beat New England in quite some time.
Taking a look back at the paths New England and Buffalo have taken since the Patriots’ week four victory over the Bills tells an interesting story of ups and downs. Buffalo went on to win their next two, before picking up losses to the potentially non-playoff bound Philadelphia Eagles (barring this Sunday’s outcome against the Dallas Cowboys) and the definitely not playoff-bound Cleveland Browns. In between those losses was a win against the Washington Redskins. The Browns’ loss was followed by a trio of victories over the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and Cowboys, before the Bills dropped their week 14 matchup against the AFC’s best Baltimore Ravens. The following week, the Bills defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Much has been made about the Bills’ schedule and record, with skeptics pointing to the argument that the team hasn’t played tough opponents and when they have, they’ve fallen short. The Steelers win certainly helped turn some of that conversation around and as the Bills enter into this tough matchup with New England, they certainly have to feel more confidence than usual.
The Patriots, after defeating the Bills, continued to roll through their cakewalk schedule remaining undefeated until a week nine clash with the Ravens. That game properly humbled the Patriots as they lost by 17 points and the decline of Tom Brady had become impossible to ignore. The aging Brady, who had for so long defied what he shouldn’t have been able to do with a football, had just one touchdown and one interception in the loss. After a bye, the Patriots hit the road where they barely defeated the Eagles, followed by a home game where they just got past the Cowboys. One of those teams will be making the playoffs.
The NFC East statistically has been one of the worst divisions in NFL history so that New England was able to win both games only because of Philadelphia and Dallas’ last minute drives falling short, should be a bit concerning. In the end, the Patriots’ defense, which has been stellar this year, held strong. As New England finally hit the tougher games on their schedule, losses followed to the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, before they got back in the win column against the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
Much like Buffalo, New England’s detractors have pointed to their schedule, one of the easiest in the NFL, as to why the Patriots of 2019 looked like the Patriots of old. Now Brady is being exposed and his patchwork wide receiver corps simply isn’t cutting it. Against tougher opponents, for perhaps the first time in a long time, the Patriots have been outplayed, Bill Belichick has been outcoached and the team has struggled. There is something missing for New England and it’s more than just their 6’6 future Hall of Fame tight end, who retired prior to this season after an eight-year NFL career. Rob Gronkowski’s loss is being felt but even he would have struggled to fix the problems that are emerging this season.
Our Preview’s Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots Predictions, Picks & Betting Tips Verdict
Despite the Bills’ staunch defense and Josh Allen’s slow but sure maturation as the team’s quarterback, the Patriots’ reputation means the most successful and trusted of the USA sportsbooks still make them favorite.
Back home at Gillette Stadium, where New England has just one loss this year, the Patriots are somewhat shopping 6.5-point favorites. If you put stock in historical statistics, it makes sense, but right now, the Bills pass the eye test more than the Patriots do. For that reason, we’re backing the Bills in this one. So the Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots predictions for this preview are: