Look around the NFL landscape, and there are a lot of strange things happening in 2021. Several AFC teams have head-scratching losses to bottom-dwellers, the NFC has two .500 teams in playoff spots while the AFC has one in 12th place, and no one is separating themselves in the MVP race.
That is until tonight.
For a second straight week, the Buffalo Bills are on a nationally televised game in prime time. This week, it’s going to have even more weight as the Bills and New England Patriots play to see who controls the AFC East and the Conference at large. This is the seven-day span Josh Allen can coalesce the MVP voting around him.
The Patriots have been notoriously stingy on defense under head coach Bill Belichick, himself the architect of the greatest ever defensive game plan against the Bills. In 2021, New England’s defense is 4th in yards per play, 1st in turnover percentage, 1st in scoring percentage and points per game, and 4th in net yards per passing attempt. Only one QB has topped 300 passing yards vs New England this season. It’s a stout defense for sure, and Allen and company overcoming that mountain would certainly turn the heads of folks who follow football more closely.
The last time these two teams played was also a Monday night, back in December of 2020, but the Patriots’ defense was very different thanks to COVID-19 opt-outs. Allen threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, adding 35 yards on the ground, before Matt Barkley came in to mop up.
It’s not going to be easy this time around. The Patriots generate pressure consistently, and the Bills’ offensive line has been more miss than hit this season. With an extra couple days to scheme up protections to beat New England following Thanksgiving night’s victory, Buffalo should hopefully be able give Allen the opportunities to succeed.
A solid game this week against the Patriots followed by a head-to-head game against the other MVP front-runner, Tom Brady, in Tampa Bay could solidify Allen as the only choice for MVP. He can’t think that way, though. Take what the defense gives you, move the ball down the field, channel Frank Sinatra in your headphones and play like the calm, cool QB you’ve shown you can be.