We have not seen that for a while.
In the space below, you will find that most pigskin forecasters are strongly in favor of a Bills victory this Saturday night when Buffalo and New England meet in an NFL wild card showdown. Mike Florio picks the Patriots based on Bill Belichick’s track record after the season. Gregg Rosenthal chose them to beat the Bills, simply because he needed a disturbance this weekend.
When’s the last time the New England Patriots started an off-season race with so little conviction?
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The last time the Patriots played in a wild card game was two years ago. They were favored over the Tennessee Titans by 4.5 points. That was the last time we saw Mohamed Sanu, Sr. in a Patriots uniform. Another guy too.
Previously, New England had not played a wild card game in a decade (Baltimore’s 33-14 relegation at Gillette Stadium in 2010. In between both wild card games, the Patriots won three more Super Bowls to cement the second half of their two-part dynasty.
No one expects the start of a third stage on Saturday, nor is there much faith that the Patriots will advance to the division round. Pete Prisco likes Bills in a blowout. Most others see yet another close battle between the two AFC East rivals.
The Bills may be the team they have been the last few weeks. The Patriots need to overcome their games in the late season. It all adds up to a likely Bills victory in what promises to be a cold Buffalo.
Which is probably exactly how Belichick likes it.
This week’s predictions
Globe staff: Four out of six choose Buffalo (-4).
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Bills 30, Patriots 17. “This is the third game with these two this season, with each winning on the other’s field. New England won the first meeting in a windstorm in early December, while the Bills dominated the Pats in their place in late December. The weather is expected to be cold but not so windy. That means Josh Allen can be successful in throwing the football. The Patriots have not been the same team on the road, especially quarterback Mac Jones. Look for the bills to clear the race and dare him to beat them. He does not want that. The bills will continue. “
John Breech, CBS Sports: Bills 24, Patriots 17. “Since 2010, rookie quarterbacks have been 2-6 in playoff games, and the only two wins came in games where one rookie started for both teams, so one rookie had to win. Basics “I expect Mac Jones to fight, and the only way I think the Patriots can win is if the game plays out exactly like their first meeting with the Bills, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Buffalo (-4). “The Patriots showed us in a way who they are during the last four games of the year. They are certainly not playing their best football, and they failed three tests against two intermediate AFC teams and this very Bills team.”
ESPN staff: Six out of 11 choose Buffalo.
Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sport: Bills (-4). “I take the bills because their potential is still tempting. The Patriots’ games in the late season may not mean that much, but it’s also hard to ignore. If the Bills are to show us their best gear, it’s time for it.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sports News: Bills 23, Patriots 20. “The Patriots and Bills also meet for the third time after each win once in AFC East games. New England ran across Buffalo for the first time on the road, while Buffalo figured out how to win on Foxborough by diversifying the offense around Josh Allen Expect a well-trained defensive attrition match between Bill Belichick and Sean McDermott Mac Mac will get good support in his first playoff start, but he’s still a rookie, while Allen is a young player with a favorable playoff experience. “
Bill Bender, Sports News: Bills 26, Patriots 20. “Josh Allen passed 314 yards and three TDs in the second matchup between those teams. The road team won every game of the regular season, and the intrigue surrounding Bill Belichick leading another playoff game is there. “Rookie Mac Jones will also start his first playoff. It’s a battle for the two highest scoring defenses in the NFL, and the forecast calls for snow. The temptation for a Patriots’ upset is there, but Buffalo is coming through.”
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 20, Bills 19. “Bill Belichick is a master at coming up with a game plan that removes what the opponent’s attack does best. But does he have the players to do it? And will Bills, faced with the reality of a long-term “Nemesis, trying to spoil a playoff party, be able to get up? Belichick has successfully embraced moments like this longer than Josh Allen has been alive.”
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Bills 28, Patriots 17. “Last time the Patriots went to Buffalo, they threw only three passes en route to an unlikely victory. I do not see this game developing like that. Bills ‘defense will be better prepared for the Patriots’ attack, and Josh Allen also wants a better game. “
FiveThirtyEight: Bills, 70 percent (-6).
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 20, Bills 19. “I’m zigzagging here, partly because it’s 2021 and I need a disturbance this weekend, and partly because of Bill Belichick. Three matchups in seven weeks is outrageous and should favor the coaching staff that has “his team ready to be flexible and creative. Look for guys like Rhamondre Stevenson and Kendrick Bourne to break tackles and start a new generation of random Patriots playoff heroes.”
NFL Pickwatch: Firs percent, Buffalo (-200).
It says here: Patriots 23, Bills 17. Prepare the way for playoff hero Jonnu Smith.
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