Note from the Author: While the statistical research was done in the same fashion, competing priorities makes the in-depth analysis (that no one reads anyway) a little challenging at this time of the year. Please forgive the short commentary you bunch of Jerks.
In what could be the most important division game the AFC East has seen in decades; the Nation’s eyes will be on Foxboro Saturday Afternoon as the Buffalo Bills head east to take on the New England Patriots. While New England holds the all-time series lead 75-43-1, Buffalo enters this game overflowing with confidence feeling that this may be their best shot to dethrone the Belichick/Brady led Patriots team that has had a strangle hold on the Division for almost two decades.
With rivers of Genesee Cream Ale flowing like the might Mississippi, Buffalo’s wretched fan base is celebrating that the Bills (10-4) secured their second playoff berth in the last three years by beating the injury riddled Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday Night. While this seems to be a major accomplishment, the Bills just could be lining themselves up for an early playoff exit.
For New England (11-3), they secured a playoff berth for the 11th consecutive year albeit in very unimpressive fashion. While they are certainly fielding one of the best defenses, from a statistical standpoint, that they have ever had, offensively they have looked slow, old, and predictable.
Command of the AFC East is on the line so in yet another futile attempt to be non-bias and analytical, both teams were broken down in key areas to see how they will match up against each other and which one may have the key to a victory.
Quarterback – PATRIOTS: Statistically, the Patriots’ Tom Brady holds the edge is just about every significant passing category over the Bills’ Josh Allen…. Unfortunately, that really isn’t saying much this year. While they are at the opposite ends of their career spectrums, in a big game like this Brady gets a decisive edge.
Running Backs – PATRIOTS: Both teams’ running backs are virtually identical in the number of rushing yards this year. The Patriots’ running backs hold a significant edge, however, in receiving yards and overall touchdowns.
Wide Receivers – PATRIOTS: Physically the Bills’ wide receivers certainly are better than their Patriots counterparts. Production wise, even with all the turnover and injury issues the Patriots have had, they have almost double the receiving yards along with having almost double the touchdowns their Buffalo counterparts.
Tight Ends – BILLS: While both Tight End groups are producing miniscule numbers, the Bills’ group has a slight statistical edge.
Offensive Line – PUSH: Neither teams’ offensive line has performed that much better than the other to give a clear edge one way or the other. Injuries has significantly hampered the Patriots in this area.
Defensive Front Seven – PUSH: Both teams are Top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game (Patriots 7th – Bills 10th) and in sacks (Bills 7th – Patriots 10th).
Secondary – PUSH: These might be the two best secondaries in the league. While New England has a significant edge in interceptions and holding opposing QBs to a lower quarterback rating, these two teams are #2 (Patriots) and #3 in the league in passing yards allowed per game.
Special Teams – PATRIOTS: While most significant areas, including place kicker accuracy, are essentially even, the Patriots lead the league in punt blocks (4) including one against the Bills earlier this season.
Coaching – PATRIOTS: Sean McDermott followed up his sub-par 2018 campaign by leading his Bills team to their second playoff berth in three seasons. This accomplishment alone should get him a statute by Niagara Falls after the putrid product the Bills have fielded for the better part of the last 2 ½ decades. It will be interesting to see what excuse the Pegula’s use not to pay him and let him go. In any case, he is going against the most successful head coach that the league has seen this century in Bill Belichick. Belichick’s 34-5 record over Buffalo is no accident and with the potential of the division title and a playoff bye week on the line, everyone should expect New England to be ready for this matchup.
If we assign 2 points for every category (1 point per team for draws) this is how it lines up:
Betting Line: Patriots -6 1/2
Key’s to a Patriots Victory:
1) Protect the Quarterback: While clearly protection issues have plagued the Patriots over the last several weeks, the Patriots need to scheme around this by trying to be creative and getting the ball out of Brady’s hands as quickly as possible.
2) MORE WHITE POWER!!!!: With the limited options at the skilled positions, James White should never leave the field. The double team or mis-match issues he causes should allow for others to have opportunities. Personnel formations with both James White and Rex Burkhead could cause serious confusion to defend.
3) Force Josh Allen to Beat You Through the Air: While Josh Allen has made Bills fans jump through burning tables at an alarmingly high rate this year, he is still work in progress even though some homers like to make the argument that his career is trending upward. If the Patriots can keep him in the pocket, limit his rushing opportunities, and give him looks he hasn’t seen, there is a high probability that he will make some costly mistakes.
While this game looks like a mismatch on paper, the Bills have a solid roster this year that had taken advantage of a weak conference [cough – like the late 80’s/early 90’s, cough] to get themselves into the playoffs. The Patriots should not take this team lightly and, based on recent weeks of offensive challenges, should have no reason to do so.
Look for a close defensive focused game that will make the New England faithful stressed to the point of cardiac arrest.
The Knuckles Prediction: Patriots 16 – Bills 14
Note from Luciano: The importance of this game for our site is huge. And to thank one of the most dedicated and consistent writers, I want this to be our Friday/Saturday and GameDay article….enjoy!….and thank you CK!