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Three headlines: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

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Playoff spots are locked up for both teams, but seeding and the division are still in flux

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Both teams clinched a playoff spot last week, but neither the Buffalo Bills nor the New England Patriots will be resting on their laurels when they face off at Gillette Stadium this weekend.


AFC East division title still up for grabs

The Patriots have won the AFC East for ten straight seasons and are likely to make that 11 straight, but it isn’t guaranteed. The Bills can still win the division by beating the Patriots on Saturday, beating the New York Jets in the regular season finale, and having the Miami Dolphins beat the Patriots in their regular season finale. It’s a long shot—BetMGM has the Bills at +1600 to win the division as of Tuesday—but there’s still a chance.

Brady’s decline

The first time the Patriots and the Bills met this season Tom Brady posted a 45.9 passer rating. That is the sixth-worse passer rating of his career and just the second time he’s had a passer rating under 50 since 2007. The other occurrence also came in a Pats win over the Bills. Passer rating isn’t the greatest explanation of a QB’s performance, but when comparing it to the rest of Brady’s career we can still see just how poorly he performed in the Week 4 game. The Bills’ defense will surely look to repeat that performance this week.

Turnovers

In the Week 4 loss to the Pats, Josh Allen threw three interceptions. In the ten games since that loss Allen has thrown three interceptions combined. He did lose two fumbles over those ten games, but the point still stands. Allen has markedly cut down on his turnovers. Maintaining his new turnover standard will be crucial on Saturday. The Patriots scored nine of their 16 points off Allen turnovers. Their other seven points came on a blocked punt for a touchdown. Corey Bojorquez and the special teams also need to maintain the standard that Allen is looking to set.


Saturday’s game may not end up changing the Bills’ playoff seed or whether they win their first AFC East division championship since Google existed, but it is still a very important game. It is a nationally televised game against a division rival who has dominated the Bills for years. A win over the Patriots would put a lot of wind in the Bills’ playoff sails.