The Buffalo Bills have nearly reached the end of their 2023 NFL regular-season schedule. But to fully close it out — and in a manner that satisfies the hopes and dreams of the team and Bills Mafia alike — Buffalo must come out on top against a pair of AFC East foes. That begins this Sunday, when the Bills play host for Round 2 against the New England Patriots.
The Bills are currently 13-point favorites over the Patriots, with the over/under set at 40. It seems that bettors are prepared for a bit of a defensive battle in Orchard Park, NY. Will the team that steamrolled the Dallas Cowboys during inclement weather show up, or will we see a more methodical approach by head coach Sean McDermott and interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady?
Earlier this season, Buffalo was dealt a deflating blow in their Week 7 loss at Gillette Stadium, where quarterback Mac Jones had a fantastic day, culminating in an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive inside the two-minute warning. The Bills’ defense was unable to contain a suddenly lethal Patriots passing attack, which left quarterback Josh Allen and Buffalo’s offense a mere 12 game seconds to try and overcome a four-point deficit. The Bills were unable to match New England’s execution all afternoon, forced into an unsuccessful game of catch-up until the very end. That Massachusetts victory became head coach Bill Belichick’s 300th all-time in the NFL — placing him third behind Don Shula (328) and George Halas (318).
The Bills exited the bye refreshed and refocused, and now have the momentum of a three-game win streak that’s positioned them as the current sixth seed in the AFC. The Patriots, conversely, have officially been eliminated from playoff contention, resting at the bottom of the AFC East. However, the team continues to play hard for Belichick in what many believe (and if the rumors are true) could be his final season with the New England Patriots. At 4-11, it’s easy to consider the Patriots a bit of a trap opponent for the Bills — but divisional rivals make for the most difficult of foes, and New England already won the first meeting this season.
Make no mistake, Buffalo needs to remain focused on Week 17, shuttering outside noise about a Week 18 date in South Beach with the Miami Dolphins. A slip up on Sunday could vastly change what’s at stake to close the regular season. It will be paramount for Joe Brady to continue adding wrinkles on offense that allows running back James Cook and the offensive line to further batter NFL defenses.
Whether this is Belichick’s AFC East swan song or not, the Patriots are for sure to be fired up and ready to spoil the New Year for the Buffalo Bills, the same as they did for the Denver Broncos’ holiday last weekend.
Will the Bills play the brand of football needed to hold off the Patriots on Sunday? Here’s all our coverage for Bills-Patriots in Week 17.