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The Buffalo Bills take on the New England Patriots on Saturday night in this all-AFC East showdown at 71,600-seater Highmark Stadium. We dig into the top storylines and pick out the big betting nuggets.
It’s Bills-Patriots Part III. The teams split their two regular season matchups and now the AFC East foes square off again in the Wildcard Round. Buffalo surged down the stretch with a four-game win streak that clinched the division title, capped off by Sunday’s 27-10 win over the New York Jets.
For New England, December was a different story. With three losses in their past four games, including a 33-21 defeat to the Bills, the Patriots seem to have lost some of their mojo. But this is Bill Belichick in the playoffs, with plenty writing off New England’s chances. We’re taking the points.
The Bills played their way back into Super Bowl contention after a mid-season slide, but they will be looking for Josh Allen to find an extra gear in the postseason. While Buffalo put up 56 points over the past two games, Allen completed just 35 of his 71 passes and threw three interceptions against the Atlanta Falcons.
But the Bills’ running game is peaking just in time for cold playoff weather. While the threat of Allen as a runner is the key, Devin Singletary has the hot hand with five rushing touchdowns over the past four games. His matchup against the New England front seven could be decisive on Saturday.
Defensively, Buffalo has found its form, holding opponents to 21 points or fewer during an unbeaten final month of the regular season. But that unit will still have to prove it this weekend, particularly against the run, where the Patriots dominated in their first meeting of the year.
Mac Jones was largely a spectator in his last visit to Highmark Stadium, throwing just three passes in New England’s Week 13 victory. While Belichick will surely try to ease the pressure on his rookie quarterback in his first taste of the playoffs (and with tough weather conditions expected), Jones will have to make some big throws if the Patriots are going to pull off the upset.
Jones has hit a slump over the past month, throwing five interceptions as New England lost control of the AFC East. But look for a shrewd game plan here that maximizes Jones’ strengths while putting the bulk of the offensive work on the shoulders of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden.
Expect the Patriots to focus on limiting Stefon Diggs’ impact in the passing game, but that will leave some difficult one-on-one matchups elsewhere in the secondary against a deep Bills receiving group.
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