Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Life on the road has not been easy for Josh Allen and the Bills, and it’s probably going to get tougher this weekend in Foxborough, Mass. Buffalo won a pair of one-score games in Detroit, beating the Browns 31-23 in a relocated game and the Lions 28-25 on Thanksgiving. The Bills will be playing their third game in 12 days away from home.
To make matters more challenging, outside linebacker Von Miller is out with an injury — headlining a long list of banged-up players — and coach Sean McDermott said a flu-like illness has been sweeping through the locker room. Allen was not at his best in November, losing starts against the Jets and Vikings, but he did account for 331 total yards and three touchdowns in the comeback victory over Detroit. The Buffalo defense has been bending and breaking more often, allowing an average of 27 points in the past three games.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has put together a defense that ranks fourth in yards allowed (307.8 per game) and sixth in scoring (18.4). In a 33-26 loss at Minnesota on Thanksgiving, the New England special teams faltered by allowing a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Second-year quarterback Mac Jones produced the type of performance that secured his starting job as a rookie. Jones passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. He appeared to pass for a third touchdown, but the catch by tight end Hunter Henry at the goal line was controversially overturned after a review. The offense went 0-for-3 in the red zone and has 12 touchdowns in 31 red-zone trips this season, the second-lowest touchdown percentage in the league ahead of only the Broncos.
The Bills took two of three meetings between the teams last season, winning 33-21 in Foxborough and 47-17 in Buffalo in the playoffs. The timing seems right for the Patriots, who are getting better play from Jones and a steady number of stops from the defense. Illness, injuries and travel issues could catch up with a Buffalo team that’s not playing its best lately.