Familiar foes will square off in a Wild Card game on Saturday when AFC East rivals New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills play the rubber game of their season series. The teams split the regular season meetings with Buffalo’s Week 16 win in Foxboro setting them up to win a second straight division title.
That came just a few weeks after the Pats pulled the upset in Buffalo throwing only three passes the entire game. The Bills closed the season winning four in a row going 3-0-1 ATS. New England’s loss to Miami on Sunday was their third in four games to close the regular campaign. The Bills are a 4.5-point favorite on the NFL betting line.
NFL Wildcard | New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills Info
The Wild Card playoff game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills will take place at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 15, 2022 and will be televised on CBS.
NFL Wildcard | New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills Odds
New England Patriots +4.5 | Buffalo Bills -4.5 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 43.5 [BET NOW]
We are bound to get divisional matchups in the playoffs with the expanded field, but for the first time as NFL teams these two will meet. And oddsmakers like the Bills positioning them as 4.5-point favorites. That could have something to do with how the teams closed the regular season. The Bills won their final four games while the Pats lost three of four going 1-3 ATS.
Buffalo put its destiny in its own hands with a Week 16 win New England and the Bills finished the deal. However, they are just 1-9 SU and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games with the Pats. New England pulled off the road upset in Week 13 with a dominant ground game that produced 222 yards. That game was played in wintery conditions and more of the same is expected on Saturday. The total opened at 43.5 and could tumble if conditions are bad.
New England Patriots
If you stay around the game long enough you’re bound to see something new. And we get a first on Saturday. This will be the first road wild card game of Bill Belichick’s head coaching career and it comes against a familiar foe. The Pats are looking to shake off an end-of-season slump that saw them lose to Indianapolis, Buffalo and Miami over the final month of the campaign. Their only win in a four-game stretch was pretty impressive, though. The Pats dropped a fifty burger on the Jags in Week 17 and they cashed the OVER in each of their last three games.
Ideally the Pats would like to have success running the football taking pressure of Mac Jones. That strategy worked to perfection in the first meeting. Damien Harris rushed for 111 yards on 10 carries and Rhamondre Stevenson had 78 yards as the Pats churned out 222 yards on 46 attempts. They didn’t need Jones, who completed just 2 of 3 passes for 19 yards. And when the Pats did need their QB to come through he struggled.
Over his last four games Jones has completed less than 60 percent of his passes with five interceptions. Even the defense had problems during the final month of the season. In their three losses the Pats allowed an average of 31 points. They hadn’t surrendered more than 30 points in a regulation game all season until giving up 33 in setbacks to Buffalo and Miami.
The Bills are playing their best when it matters most, at least on defense. They finished the regular season with the No. 1 ranked scoring defense and the pass rush has been doing its job. The Bills registered half of their 42 sacks over the last five games that included nine sacks against the Jets on Sunday.
During their season ending four-game winning streak the Bills allowed an average of just 15 points. Those games were against the Jets, Atlanta, New England and Carolina, three of which were not very good offensively. Still, the Bills surrendered just 17 points per game and topped the NFL in total defense and pass defense.
Any playoff success the Bills have will likely come via the play of Josh Allen. He’s been inconsistent this season compared to last, but he’s dangerous throwing or running the football. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes against the Jets and rushed for 63 yards on five carries.
One of his better passing games of the season came against the Pats a few weeks ago when he threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Getting a lead in that game forced the Pats to abandon the ground game playing right into Buffalo’s hands. The defense stymied Jones holding him to 145 passing yards while intercepting two of his passes.
Patriots vs Bills Prediction
The teams closed the regular season heading in different directions. Buffalo had to win out in order to claim the division and they did. Meanwhile, Jones and the Pats’ defense struggled. I’m not about to give up on Belichick’s team, though.
The coach will find a way to get his club off the mat and the defense will play much better allowing them to stay within the spread. I do like the Bills at home though on the moneyline in a game that stays below the total with weather being a factor.
Prediction: New England Patriots +4.5 and UNDER 43.5