BUFFALO (8-3) AT NEW ENGLAND (6-5)
TV: Amazon Prime, 8:15 p.m.
Line:: Buffalo by 4; O/U: 43.5
Both teams played on Thanksgiving, so there’s no issue of this being a short week. The Bills beat the Lions on a late field goal, then the Patriots lost by a touchdown in a back-and-forth game with the Vikings. With the AFC East being super competitive — all four teams are above .500 and if the playoffs started this week, three of them would be in — expect a close battle with a lot on the line.
The one AFC East team that would not be in is New England, which “needs” the game more. That doesn’t mean it will win, not against a Buffalo team that also “needs” to reestablish itself as one of the Super Bowl favorites. It’s been a weird season for Josh Allen and the Bills, who both showed they’re human with back-to-back losses to the Jets and Vikings that dropped them to 6-3. They bounced back with two wins in five days against the Browns and Lions and now visit New England before hosting the Jets and Miami. Division winner or wild-card team? We’ll know a lot more in three weeks.
In last year’s wild-card round, Buffalo blitzed New England, 47-17, at home. Three weeks earlier the Bills won in Foxborough, 33-21. In Allen’s last four games against the Patriots, the Bills quarterback has thrown 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Three of those games were double-digit Bills wins (two by 29 or more).
You saw Allen and top receiver Stefon Diggs hug on the sideline after escaping Detroit on Thanksgiving, a sense of relief after getting their season back on track. The Patriots’ defense can keep this close for three quarters, but in the end, Mac Jones and the offense don’t have enough firepower to keep up with Allen and the Bills.
The pick: Buffalo
Tom Rock: New England
Al Iannazzone: Buffalo