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Game Preview: New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

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What a week. What started a disaster has ended with a miracle. Damar Hamlin is on the road to recovery – albeit a long one. The Buffalo Bills insist that Damar would have wanted, and does want, the team to continue to push forward. To achieve the goals they set out for themselves as a team this season. We will do the same. Let’s preview the regular season finale against the New England Patriots.

The Last Five

Bills 24 Patriots 10 (2022)
Bills 47 Patriots 17 (2022 – Playoffs)
Bills 33 Patriots 21 (2021)
Patriots 14 Bills 10 (2021)
Bills 38 Patriots 9 (2020)

Buffalo is on a three-game win streak against the Patriots, and are 5-1 against them since Tom Brady left. The “hurricane game” has proven to be the only thing that has slowed down Josh Allen against Bill Belichick’s defense over the past few years. BB will get another crack at Allen this week with the playoffs on the line for the Patriots.

What To Watch For: Buffalo Bills

For Damar – Many questioned if this game should even be played, but Josh Allen and Sean McDermott left no doubt when talking with the media on Thursday that the team will be ready to play on Sunday. The best way for them to honor Damar’s wishes is to play the game and push towards the playoffs. If Thursday’s press conference was any indication, you can expect Sunday to be a day for the ages at Highmark Stadium. The emotion from the players will be palpable all over Orchard Park, as will the emotion from the fans. Expect to see a ton of 3s on Sunday. The rest of the 2022-2023 Buffalo Bills season will be dedicated to Damar, an icon of strength and love that we can all look up to.

Seeding – There are a handful of scenarios at play for Sunday. The Bills can end up as high as the #1 seed and as low as the #3 seed. Thursday night, the league announced scenarios that would result in the AFC Championship Game being played at a neutral site, but we will wait to dive into those until it is closer. For now, we have seeding scenarios to consider and, as is always the case on the last weekend of the year, fans will be watching the scoreboard carefully with the scenarios close by.

#1 Seed Scenario

  1. KC LOSS + BUF WIN = #1 seed (*CIN result does not impact*)

#2 Seed Scenarios

  1. KC WIN + BUF WIN = #2 seed (*CIN result does not impact*)
  2. KC WIN + BUF LOSS + CIN LOSS = #2 seed
  3. KC LOSS + BUF LOSS + CIN LOSS = #2 seed

#3 Seed Scenarios

  1. KC WIN + BUF LOSS + CIN WIN = #3 seed
  2. KC LOSS + BUF LOSS + CIN WIN = #3 seed

If the Chiefs win on Saturday, the Bills will be locked into the #2 or #3 seed. Half of the scenarios listed above will be moot after the result of the Chiefs game, so make sure to update at home if you are following along in real-time on Sunday as the Bills and Bengals kick off in their respective games at 1pm.

What To Watch For: New England Patriots

Offense?!?! What Offense? – The Patriots offense is bad. And I mean embarrassingly bad. The Patriots have scored 28 offensive touchdowns in 16 games (1.75 touchdowns per game). That is not going to get it done in today’s NFL. But yet, the Patriots are in a position to end up with the #7 seed by the time Sunday is over. Defense and special teams have added eight more touchdowns, some of them in critical moments, which have carried the Patriots to victory on a few occasions.

It’s not just getting into the end zone that has been a problem for New England, it is their whole offensive side of the football. The team averages just 313 yards per game, which is good for 26th in the league this year, and only 5.3 yards per play, which is a whole yard less than their opponent this week. It is unlikely to think that the team will find some offensive magic in Week 18, so it looks like another week of hoping their defense can keep them in the game long enough to make things interesting late into the second half.

Fighting for Playoff Lives – Coming into Buffalo to play is a tall task. Coming into Buffalo to play after the week the Bills have had might prove to be impossible. Regardless, the Patriots have a couple paths to the NFL Playoffs, the easiest requires a victory on Sunday. Here are their scenarios to clinch a playoff berth on Sunday:

WIN vs. BUF

OR

MIA LOSS + PIT LOSS + TEN LOSS

Two paths for New England to sneak back into the postseason for the second straight year. If they do, they might have the Bills waiting for them yet again on Wild Card Weekend.

Prediction

Bills 33 Patriots 0. For Damar. #PrayForDamar. #DamarHamlinStrong.

Featured Image: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports