A major question has been answered for the Buffalo Bills following a long and arduous three-day start to the work week: are they ready to play football again following the tragic Damar Hamlin injury during their now-canceled Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals?
They are. Hamlin is improving, and that has bolstered the Bills’ spirits. Head coach Sean McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen made that clear during a press conference on Thursday.
And play football they will, this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST against the New England Patriots, in a game featuring major playoff implications for both teams.
The Bills, who remain 12-3 following Monday night’s events in Cincinnati, are a half-game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoff picture, and a full game ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals. If they beat the Patriots, they can clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs if the Chiefs lose to the Las Vegas Raiders. Lose, and they could fall as far as the No. 3 seed if Cincinnati is able to beat the Baltimore Ravens.
Meanwhile, New England controls its own playoff destiny at 8-8; if they can beat Buffalo in Highmark Stadium, they’ll make the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 7 seed — and play the No. 2 seed in the wild card round, which may very well end up being Buffalo.
The Bills, who beat the Patriots in Foxborough, MA, on December 1 by a final score of 24-10, are seven-point favorites in this one, per DraftKings Sportsbook. Buffalo has won three straight games against New England, including last year’s wild card playoff game held in Orchard Park, NY, and they’ll look to extend that streak to four to optimize their seeding before the playoffs begin.
All of our Bills-Patriots coverage from this strange, scary, hopeful week is below.