Why the Patriots vs Bills contest has an exciting tease
By: Andy Davies
The Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season.
With a combined 15-8 record and one win between them and still two games to play against each other, there is a lot at stake in this game.
In a battle for the AFC East crown and the number one seed, is this the start of a new rivalry in the NFL?
Head Coaching Excellence
Both these teams are helped by excellent head coaches. Bill Belichick is widely seen as the greatest head coach of all time and Sean McDermott is one of the best young head coaches around.
One thing a team needs to succeed is strong and reliable head coaching. This will ensure both teams will be competitive for years to come.
Since arriving in 2017, Sean McDermott guided the Bills to their first playoff appearance since the 1999 campaign and also their first playoff wins since the 1995 season when they went all the way to the AFC Championship game earlier this year.
Belichick is proving, with their 8-4 record so far, that he can more than cope without Tom Brady. Their defense looks far better than it did last season, without the injuries and opt-outs suffered in 2020. Running back Damien Harris has 643 yards and 8 touchdowns to his name. They also have a new rookie QB that has massively impressed during his first-ever NFL season.
Mac Jones was drafted fifteenth overall by the Patriots in this year’s draft. He was expected to be the backup to Cam Newton, but the former MVP was cut before the start of the season, leading the way for Mac to be the starter in New England. So far, he has 2,850 yards, 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in the 12 games so far this campaign. This has him projected to end the season with 4,038 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Not bad for a rookie.
He looks composed in the pocket, with a tremendous amount of confidence on the field for someone so new to the league.
His rookie season has gone a lot better than Josh Allen’s did. The Bills QB had a troublesome first two seasons that led to many questions from outsiders looking in as well as the NFL media. He proved himself last season, with a brilliant campaign as the Bills went the furthest, they have been in the playoffs since the 1993 season. He threw for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This season, he has thrown for 3,071 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 picks.
He also knows how to use his feet, with 8 rushing touchdowns and 421 rushing yards in 2020. He is also the team’s second leading rusher so far in the 2021 season, with 383 yards and 3 touchdowns.
This is going to be a very exciting QB battle, between two young quarterbacks that are going to be great for a number of years. Whilst Allen is the more experienced and completed player, Mac Jones has that swagger that not a lot of young players have in the position. It is harsh for Mac more than anyone else to make the comparison to Brady, but he does look like a young version of TB12.
A Wide Open AFC
The AFC is wide open this year. The NFC has five teams that everyone knows is good whereas no one knows who is good in the AFC. Everyone is beating each other, and suffering shock defeats in the process.
New England have hit form at the right time, with a current six game winning streak that has seen them go from 2-4 to 8-4. Meanwhile, the Bills’ inconsistent past few weeks has allowed their division rivals to creep up the table. The run game has been poor, and teams have been much more able to stop Stefon Diggs, despite the stats telling you otherwise. The defense has made a step up, which will help Bills if they are to make the postseason.
There is just two wins separating the number one seed Baltimore Ravens and the seventh seed Los Angeles Chargers. Both the Pats and Bills will be optimistic that they can still secure both the AFC East and the top seed in the AFC. This adds more importance onto the game on Monday Night Football as well as their week 16 matchup.
This game is going to be tight and tense. Defensively wise, the Bills have allowed the least yards per game, with the Patriots in fourth. Buffalo are also top of the league in passing yards allowed (1,964) whereas the Pats are in seventh (2,411). Buffalo are also fifth in total rushing yards allowed (1,063), with New England in the lowly position of 25th (1,389). This has to be where the Bills capitalise. Whether this be lead rusher Devin Singletary or Josh Allen, this will be the way to beat New England.
No team has allowed fewer total points in the league this season than Buffalo (1st) and New England (2nd). Despite the Patriots’ poor run defense this season, they have managed to stop teams getting many points, which is a credit to their redzone defense. New England’s 48.39% is only topped by the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, with the Bills in seventh (51.61%)
If New England can keep this up against the Bills on Monday, then this is how they can beat the Bills, stopping them on crucial plays and in crucial areas on the field .
In terms of the game, form is going to be a massive factor and New England have it. They may be on the road, but I am backing the Patriots to secure a vital win and gain a two-win advantage over Buffalo.
Score prediction: Patriots 27-24 Bills