Written by: Alex James
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills cruised to victory on Sunday afternoon beating the Carolina Panthers 31-14 and improving to 8-6 on the season. The victory ended the Bills 2-game losing slide as they head into Foxborough for the Boxing Day rematch against the Patriots. New England is coming off a 27-17 loss to the Colts which ended their
7-game winning streak, and they sit atop the AFC East Division with a 9-5 record.
Statistics from CBSsports.com
The Bills vs. Pats game on Sunday massive for a number of reasons. First, if the Pats win they clinch the AFC East title back from the Bills and force Buffalo to play for 1 of 3 remaining wildcard positions. This outcome will likely eliminate any home field advantage for Buffalo should they still sneak into the playoffs. Next, if the Bills win both teams will have the same record and they will have split the season series 1-1, however the Bills currently have a a better divisional record in comparison to the Patriots who lost to the Dolphins. Both the Bills and Patriots will end the season against Divisional teams, so if the Bills do win and they win out, they will be successfully defend the the AFC East Division Title.
Sunday's matchup is as close to a playoff game as the players will experience until the postseason begins in early January. With a lot on the line, both teams will be judged on their performance and ability in playing under pressure, which will gauge what we can expect going forward from the Bills if they play in the postseason. The previous game between the Bills and Patriots hasn't provided us a very good representation for what expect Sunday, as the play-calling was unprecedented with the Patriots throwing the ball 3 times all game due to the weather, all-while instituting a lethal run game against the Bills. Of course, the Bills were unable to utilize their air attack prowess for the same windy reasons, and it's something to expect to see differently on Sunday.
Provided by CBSSports.com
The one area the Bills will want to exploit against New England is their 24th ranked rushing defence which allows 122 yards per game. Against the Panthers, Devin Singletary had 86 rushing yards, and 1 touchdown and in my opinion is the most crucial piece of the puzzle going forward. Having a more balanced offence is critical in playing against good coaching and opposing defences, and will provide even better opportunity for Allen and the passing game going forward.
With Singletary now getting the majority of RB touches these past few games, it’s not unreasonable to believe he can put up 100 yards on the ground against the Patriots, and for the first time this season. If both the air and run game are in unison, the Bills offence becomes very intimidating, and it's only one factor away from it being a lethal unit (O-Line's ability to protect and give Allen time in the pocket is the final necessity).
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The Bills health/injury status is unprecedented in comparison to most weekly reports as there are a number of covid list cases that make it difficult to grasp who is eligible to play Sunday. According to Twitter, Cole Beasley is one definite out because of the protocol and wont be available until the new year. Feliciano was in the hospital because of covid last Sunday but there is no news on his status for this week's game. Epenesa was also placed on the Covid-reserve on Monday but no guarantee of his status for Sunday. On Thursday, the Injury status' are as follows; Micah Hyde & Taiwan Jones were light practice participants , while Star Lotuleilei & Cam Lewis didn't practice.
The weather for New England on Sunday will be in the low to mid-30s, with 30% chance of snow showers and possible winds reaching up to 19mph. If the wind is a factor like it was a few weeks ago, it’ll be interesting to see if the Bills learned anything from the first matchup and are better prepared for stopping the Patriots run game. This game is too important for me to predict a biased outcome but I truly believe if weather is a non-factor and Singletary is utilized successfully, then the Bills are definitely capable of beating this Patriots team.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)AP
Happy Holidays to all of Bills Mafia and Armchair GMs Network readers, and I wish nothing but the best for all of you in the upcoming New Year!
As Always Circle The Wagons,
References: https://www.espn.com/nfl/matchup?gameId=401326522m, https://www.footballdb.com/games/preview.html?gid=2021122606, https://www.weatherforyou.com/reports/index.php?pands=gillette+stadium%2Cmassachusetts, https://www.buffalobills.com/team/injury-report/