By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
If the Buffalo Bills want a better chance of ending a nearly two-decade playoff drought, they need to beat the Patriots on Sunday. The odds to win Sunday’s game; however, are not in the Bills’ favor.
According to ESPN’s matchup predictor, the Patriots have a 75.1-percent chance of beating the Bills on Sunday.
The Bills have a decent shot at the playoffs the way things stand right now. If the Bills split games against the Patriots, sweep the Miami Dolphins who have been playing flat-out bad this year, and beat the Indianapolis Colts who are currently sitting at a 3-8 record, the Bills would be heading into the postseason with a 10-6 record.
A 10-6 record would be the Bills best record since 1999, when they went 11-5 in the regular season. To give you an idea of how love ago that was, Doug Flutie was still the Bills starting quarterback.
The Bills are in control of their destiny, if they find a way to win against the Patriots at least once in their two matchups. Doing it at home, would be that much sweeter for Bills fans.
All that being said, the Patriots have been merciless in the division since Tom Brady took the reins all those years ago. Brady has led his Patriots to five-straight wins at Buffalo. He will also be looking for his 14th career victory in Buffalo.
There is a silver lining for the Bills though, Brady has taken some hits this season and is coming into this game on a sour Achilles tendon. The offensive line for the Patriots is also battered and showing signs of weakness.
If the Bills can pressure Brady and force some turnovers, the Bills could very easily pull an upset and run away with the game both physically and metaphorically. It is worth mentioning that the turnovers may be a pipe dream since the Patriots have only turned the ball over seven times this season, three of which were interceptions.
On the other hand, if the Bills can’t get to Brady and give him time to throw the ball, it may be another long day for the Bills and Bills fans watching the game. Wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola could have big games. Also, don’t forget about Rob Gronkowski, who has been giving defensive coordinators night-terrors since the minute he stepped into the League.
The game will ultimately come down to the simple fundamentals. Both teams will need to play well on both sides of the ball. The Patriots are known for the scary things they can do on offense. The Bills have struggled a little bit on both sides of the ball during parts of the season.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is once again starting after the disastrous Nathan Peterman situation last week. Taylor has been efficient with the ball, rarely turning it over, but he hasn’t exactly been the man in Buffalo. He has struggled a bit, but Bill Belichick had some praise for him in an ESPN interview.
“There are some designed runs for him,” said Belichick. “There’s a lot more runs that go to other players, but he’s their second-leading rusher, so some of those are scramble plays, loose plays. He’s very hard to tackle. He’s like a running back when he runs.
“His ability to extend plays, I would say, is just as concerning or dangerous and tough to defend as him actually pulling the ball down and running with it. That’s a problem, too. But extending the play and throwing it is, I’d say, as big or probably a bigger problem.”
At the end of the day, the Bills will have to play one of their best games of the season if they really want to win. Head coach Sean McDermott has done a good job with this Bills team so far this season, but he will need to rally the troops once again this week to have a remote chance of beating the Patriots.