ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) – Monday night’s game at Orchard Park between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots is a big game.
The Patriots hold a half-game lead in the AFC East and just five weeks into the regular season, a Monday night win would be very helpful for both teams as the AFC playoff image is even more chaotic after this weekend’s games.
What do we think will happen? Here are the team’s final predictions before kick-off:
It’s not just another game and the players in the Bills locker room know that
“Before this season, we’ve all set our goals and said obviously we want to make the playoffs, win the AFC East, we want to win the Super Bowl,” said wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. “To do that, we have to be able to beat this team. Right now they’re at the top of the AFC East and we understand that, we understand that this is a championship-caliber game in division terms. We have to go out there and play. A + players have to play A + football and everyone understands that. “
There is so much going on online Monday night. With a win, Buffalo will overtake the Patriots to sit first in the AFC East with five games to go. If the Bills lose, they will lose 1.5 games behind New England and have only a 28% chance of winning the division. [according to the NY Times].
So what is the X factor in this game? Besides the weather, that’s how well the Bills can contain the Patriots’ rushed attack. Damian Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both have strong seasons and the Bills’ run defense has been incredibly inconsistent. If Bills DT Star Lotulelei plays it will be a boost for the home team, but he gets off the COVID list, so there’s no way of knowing how effective he will be if he’s active.
And then there’s Michael McCorkle “Mac” Jones. The Patriots rookie quarterback has been outstanding this season. Do I think he’s the next Tom Brady? No, I don’t. But I think he showed great composure early in his career and is a perfect match for what the Patriots do on offense. Bills head coach Sean McDermott is 5-2 against the rookie QBs in his career. That will drop to 6-2 * if * the Bills can force Jones to make mistakes he really hasn’t made at this point in the season.
On the Bills’ side, the home team cannot afford to return the ball. If the Bills lose the turnover battle against New England, they will lose. In their last four games, Josh Allen threw seven interceptions. It is a troubling trend that Bills know needs to be cleaned up.
New England are in for turnovers and no player is better at taking the ball than cornerback JC Jackson. Chances are he’ll face Stefon Diggs most of the night. I think Diggs is an advantage in every game he’s in, but he and Allen will have to be on the same page all night or Jackson will jump.
And just like the Patriots, the Bills will need to be efficient when they throw the ball, which may be more than we’re used to depending on predictions. I wouldn’t be shocked if Devin Singletary, Matt Breida and Zack Moss were all active for this game. Moss had some success against the Patriots last year and despite his struggles this season I think the Bills trust him to protect the ball. The Bills full-backs should also get a boost from the offensive line, with Spencer Brown and Jon Feliciano likely back in the lineup. So who will win?
I haven’t picked the Bills yet this season and that won’t change Monday night. It will be an absolute battle, but the tie goes to the home team.
Tickets: 20, Patriots: 19
Season summary: 7-4
A massive Monday night game in Buffalo is exactly what Bills fans were hoping for, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted the situation we find ourselves in right now. At the start of the season, I thought this Monday night game * might * be a game where the Bills almost secure their division crown. Instead, it’s up to the team to stay alive in the divisional race and, more importantly, stay firmly in the playoff image.
I’ve been going back and forth on this one because it will all come down to several things: turnovers, stopping the Patriots’ run, and capitalizing on offense.
Unfortunately, I think things favor the Patriots more than the Bills in these categories. Turnovers have been a problem for Josh Allen lately as Matt alluded to earlier in the article and we’ve also seen running backs struggle to hang on to football. The Bills can’t afford to make mistakes or this one could get lousy quickly with a Patriots defense that is among the best in the league right now.
With the forecast for Monday night including high winds, we will see a lot of groundwork and that strongly favors the Patriots. Yes, we’ve seen sparks from Devin Singletary and Matt Breida, but nothing compared to the work Damien Harris has done this season. When he’s hot it’s hard to stop him and the Bills defense MUST keep him at bay or we’ll see a week 6 and week 11 rehearsal.
Bills’ offense has been so inconsistent. When they start, they are unstoppable. When they do battle, it’s good news for the opposing defense. It won’t be a shootout, but rather which attack can capitalize in the red zone, who can move the ball best and who can benefit from their clashes.
I want to pick the Bills, especially for my die-hard Bills fan dad who had me on the phone for 15 minutes earlier today trying to figure out what needs to happen. However, given the way both teams play right now, I’m going with the Patriots. If the bills prove me wrong, I won’t face them for the rest of the year … maybe.
Patriots: 24, Tickets: 18
Season summary: 7-4
Let me start with how tonight would be a COMPLETELY different story with Tre’Davious White on the pitch.
Since Sean McDermott took over at Orchard Park, the Bills are 0-2 in the games following Thursday night’s games. A full week off is the opposite; Buffalo is 5-0 after his pass. But there is something about the so-called “mini-bye” that already favors the bills.
The consistency of these two teams was also day and night. The Bills have not had a streak of consecutive wins since mid-October. The Patriots, on the other hand, haven’t lost since mid-October. During their six-game winning streak, their average winning margin is around 25 points per game.
If Buffalo is going to spoil the fun of the New England streak the same way Tennessee did for the Bills, some things have to happen: Dane Jackson has to be the player he was in 2020. Buffalo has needed the guy with a nose for football and the guy who can hang in the blanket.
On the other side of the ball, Josh Allen’s protection is crucial. With the elements being an X-factor in their own right, it might not even go back much to begin with. But in the Bills’ four losses this season, Allen has been sacked 11 times. In their seven wins, Allen has only been sacked six times.
Without a win, Buffalo will begin to lose control of their own destiny in the playoffs. In December and January, they could seek help from the rest of the league.
Patriots: 22, Tickets: 19
Season summary: 6-5