Saturday night’s primetime NFL playoff game pits the New England Patriots against the Buffalo Bills in chilly Orchard Park, N.Y. The temperature at kickoff is expected to be hovering around zero degrees with winds at 10 mph.
NFL · Sat (1/15) @ 8:15pm ET
|Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, New York|
New England Patriots (10-7, 10-7 ATS) at Buffalo Bills (12-5, 9-6-2)
Time: 8:15 p.m. EST
DraftKings Line: Bills -4.5 (44.5)
The skinny: This is the only meeting between AFC division rivals in the first round, and only the second in their playoff history since these teams entered the AFL in 1960.
Facts: In Week 13, with the wind chill in the mid-20s and winds howling up to 40 mph, the Patriots were 14-10 winners at Buffalo by throwing only three times. The Pats had season highs with 46 rushes and 222 rushing yards. Buffalo even had a 17-yard advantage in average starting field position (40-23), the widest edge for a losing team this year.
In their second meeting three weeks later in much calmer conditions in Foxborough, Bills QB Josh Allen threw 47 times for 314 yards and three TDs and never got sacked in a 33-21 win. His counterpart, rookie Mac Jones, meanwhile, was 14-for-32 for 145 yards with two INTS. It was his worst game of the year.
Allen was Buffalo’s leading rusher in both games and that’s not usually a recipe for success. In games where a QB led his team in ground yards this season, NFL teams have a record of 14-40. Allen’s mark is 3-3.
Patriots RB Damien Harris had five 100-yard games this season, with two coming vs. Buffalo. He reportedly was limited in Tuesday’s drills with a hamstring injury, but that was the same last week and he dressed out and had 11 carries and four receptions.
Buffalo outgained the N.Y. Jets by 371 yards in a 27-10 home win last week to secure the third playoff seed. That matches the biggest yardage gap in the league this season.
Analysis: If history is a good indicator, this should be a low-scoring game based on the fact these two squads are the only ones in the league holding their foes to less than 18 points a game. Plus, it’s going to be cold, cold, cold.
New England, meanwhile, was a 33-24 loser in Miami last week, a score that surely has given bettors a reason to be wary of the Patriots. But they did hold the Dolphins to 4.5 yards a pass and were vicimized by two defensive scores, including a fumble recovery in the end zone on the final play.
Chances are that final margin resulted in a slightly higher spread for this game.
The gamble inside the gamble is that Harris and/or backfield cohort Rhamondre Stevenson will be able to handle another heavy work load.
Patriots at Bills Pick
Patriots 17, Bills 14
Last week: 5-8 ATS, 8-5 SU
Season total: 125-131 (.488) ATS, 159-99-1 (.617) SU