NFL Football

14
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
New England 8 3 0 3 14
Buffalo 7 0 3 0 10
10
5:15 PM PT6:15 PM MT7:15 PM CT8:15 PM ET1:15 GMT9:15 6:15 PM MST8:15 PM EST7:15 PM CT5:15 UAE (+1)20:15 ET23:15 , December 6, 2021
Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, New York  Weather: 36°, Cloudy  Attendance: 69,694

Bills in familiar spot trailing Patriots as showdown looms

According to STATS
According to STATS

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

  1. The Patriots are 15-2 in their last 17 trips to Buffalo. New England were winners of eight straight games before losing their last matchup in Buffalo, a 24-21 victory by the Bills.
  2. New England has won six straight games, its longest winning streak since they won eight straight games to start 2019. They have outscored opponents by 148 points over their last six games, the highest differential over six games since the 2010 season (158).
  3. Mac Jones threw for 310 yards in last week's win against the Titans, a new career high (previously 307 vs. the Jets in Week 7). He had a passer rating of 123.2, his sixth game with a passer rating over 100, highest among rookie QB's.
  4. The Bills beat the Saints by 25 points on Thanksgiving, 31-6. That is the Bills' fifth win by 20 or more points this season, most in the NFL. Buffalo had 361 yards of offense last week, continuing their league-leading 21 straight games with at least 300 yards (second is Green Bay with 11-straight).
  5. Stefon Diggs had 74 receiving yards in last week's win against the Saints. He is tied with Davante Adams with nine games with 60 or more receiving yards this season. Only Cooper Kupp (11) and Justin Jefferson (10) have more.
  6. The Bills and Patriots are numbers one and two, respectively, for fewest points allowed this season. The Bills have allowed just 182 points while the Patriots have given up 190.
Team Comparison

New England
 
Buffalo
28.0 Points 29.6
257.0 Pass Yds 281.7
115.3 Rush Yds 118.3
25 Takeaways 25
(AP Photo/Derick Hingle)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Bills safety Jordan Poyer can appreciate the message coach Sean McDermott is attempting to send in publicly referring to Buffalo's next opponent as "the first-place New England Patriots."

Subtle or not, McDermott just might be reminding the inconsistent Bills where they were a year ago, where they're not today, and what's at stake Monday night, when Buffalo (7-4) hosts New England (8-4) with — guess what? — first place in the AFC East on the line.

"Yeah, it definitely gives you a little bit of motivation," Poyer said, before refusing to say whether the coach made similar references during team meetings.

"I think you guys are trying to get too much into the locker room now. I think I'm going to keep that to myself," Poyer said.

What's not a secret is a year after sweeping the Patriots and running away with their first division title in 25 years, the Bills find themselves in the all-too familiar position of looking up at New England in the standings come December. It's a place Buffalo became very accustomed to from 2001 to 2019, when quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick essentially ruled the division and went 34-4 against the Bills.

Brady might have left for Tampa Bay in 2020, but Belichick remains, and is again proving how the combination of a steady offense, this time under rookie Mac Jones, and an opportunistic defense is a formula for success.

The Patriots have won six straight and outscored opponents by an average of 35-11 during that stretch, while not allowing a point in the second half in each of their past three outings.

The Bills, by comparison, resemble a shadow of the juggernaut they were a year ago, when they won 13 games for the first time since 1991.

Since beating Kansas City to improve to 4-1 on Oct. 10, the Bills have been stuck in a lose-one, win-one pattern over their past six outings, and coming off a 31-6 victory against the injury depleted New Orleans Saints. It's a stretch in which penalties, turnovers, a stagnant offense and sagging defense have all played factors in the three losses.

"Yeah, we've been inconsistent at times, and I think it really comes down to us shooting ourselves in the foot in some situations," McDermott said. "So the great part about the season is we've got to continue to work every week to improve. ... And that's our challenge this week, along with playing the first-place New England Patriots."

Belichick, meantime, stuck to the familiar script of praising Buffalo, something he did even when the Bills were in the midst of a 17-year playoff drought spanning 2000-2016.

"From top to bottom, just a good football team that does everything well," Belichick said. "Good, solid team. Good as anyone we've played. We know it'll take a good effort from us Monday night."

In a season Buffalo has defeated one team, the Chiefs, entering Week 13 with a winning record, and lost to Tennessee (8-4) and Jacksonville (2-9), the question is which version of the Bills show up?

BALL HAWK

New England's J.C. Jackson continues making the case of being one of the league's top cornerbacks.

The AFC defensive player of the month ranks second in the NFL with seven interceptions, with four coming in his past four games. He'll face Allen, who has thrown seven interceptions in his past four outings, and 10 overall. Jackson's 24 interceptions are the most among NFL players since he entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2018.

"J.C., you leave any trash laying around, he's going to pick it up," Belichick said.

REPLACING TRE'

The Bills are turning to second-year cornerback Dane Jackson to take over as starter with Tre'Davious White to miss the remainder of the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee against New Orleans.

"Listen, you can't replace a Tre' White, right?" McDermott said. "The challenge is not just Dane's, it's everyone's to raise our game to another level."

HELPFUL PUSH

Another player Allen will need to be on the lookout for is linebacker Matt Judon.

The former Raven has fit right into New England's system in his first season by having generated a career-high 11 1/2 sacks.

He credited the success to the attention rookie defensive lineman Christian Barmore has drawn this season. In sacking Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill last week, Barmore drew four blockers, freeing up Judon to slip around the edge and pull Tannehill down from behind.

"Sometimes they gotta block him. Sometimes they gotta block me. But they gotta pick their poison," Judon said.

JEKYLL AND HYDE

In seven wins, the Bills have averaged 37 points, with Allen throwing 19 TDs passing, scoring three rushing, with five interceptions.

In four losses, the Bills have averaged 17 points with Allen throwing six TDs passing, with five interceptions and losing two fumbles.

On defense, Buffalo has generated 23 takeaways, including 15 interceptions, and 17 sacks in seven wins, as compared to an interception, a forced fumble and four sacks in four losses.

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Updated December 2, 2021

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