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Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots: First-half open thread

The Bills host the Pats in the not-quite-frozen tundra of Highmark Stadium

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots are set to do battle tonight in a game that will, at least for a week, determine who is in first place in the AFC East. And since it’s Buffalo in December, a little wind and snow has arrived to make things more interesting.

New England enters tonight’s game winners of six straight. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has been impressive, and the Patriots own the league’s No. 1 scoring defense, allowing just 15.8 points per game thus far.

For Buffalo, the importance of tonight’s game can’t be understated. A loss drops them to the No. 7 seed in the playoff race, puts their overall record at 7-5, and drops their conference record to 5-5 in what is a crowded AFC Playoff field. A win puts them at 8-4 with a 4-0 divisional record and a tiebreaker, albeit a temporary one, over New England in the head-to-head matchup.

Quarterback Josh Allen will contend with a great New England defense and the swirling winds at Highmark Stadium, as gusts have been coming in upwards of 50 mph tonight. While some of that may subside, the Bills may need to lean on their defense tonight, a unit that has been nothing short of excellent this year. Buffalo boasts the league’s No. 1 defense in terms of yards allowed, and they trail only the Patriots in points allowed per game.

Your first-half open thread is here, friends. Be sure to set those comments to “oldest” to enjoy the classic game-thread feel. Be civil to each other. But most of all, enjoy the game wherever you’re watching.

Go Bills!