Can Patriots Finish Strong Against Buffalo and Miami?
Time is ticking away on the football clock. There are just two weeks left in this NFL season’s regular-season schedule.
The New England Patriots’ remaining two games are both AFC East, division rivalry games. That said, one is potentially a lot easier than the other. First, they face the Buffalo Bills in Foxboro during Week 16 play, then they host the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 29th at 1 PM ET in Week 17.
The Pats are 11-3 and the No. 2 seed in the AFC. At this point, they are a full game ahead of the Buffalo Bills but if the Bills were to take a home win off the Bill Belichick and his Brady-led men, we could see some serious shake-up in the landscape surrounding the wild card race.
As it stands, the Patriots would be the AFC East division winners and get the second seed. The Baltimore Ravens have won the AFC North and would get the No. 1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs have the AFC West locked in, and they would get the No. 3 seed. The Texans would get the No. 4 seed coming from the AFC South.
But the Texans are not in the clear, the Titans could still steal the South and the Bills still have a shot of winning the AFC East for the first time since 1995 when they went 10-6 and won the AFC Conference Championship against the Jaguars, but were defeated by the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
The only other thing up for grabs is positioning. The Ravens could drop both of their games and they would still win the North, but they could lose their No. 1 seed into the playoffs. The Chiefs are locked in with a berth as well, but they could potentially swap spots with the Texans or Titans if they lost their next a pair of games and end up with the No. 4 seed.
So, the meeting between the Bills and Patriots has serious significance. The Bills could put the Pats on the ropes and in a situation where if they didn’t beat the Dolphins it would be the Patriots playing from the wild card position.
But will that happen? Let’s compare the competition and look at the last couple of Pats games.
4:30 PM on Saturday
The Pats host the Bills on Saturday afternoon and the best sportsbooks have lined the New England Patriots out as 6.5-point favorites in the game.
But nearly a touchdown might be a little bit generous, considering that both teams have had some serious offensive productivity struggles as of late. When we look at the Buffalo Bills away numbers against the New England Patriots’ home numbers, the Pats are only three points better on offense. The Bills score 22 points per game on the road, and the Pats average a hair over 25 per game at home.
On defense, its the No. 1 home defense and No. 2 road defense going head-to-head. The Patriots allow just 12.67 per game in Gillette while the Bills have stifled their opponents and held them to just 14.43 while playing as the visiting team. So really, the point spread should be set at 4.5 in favor of the Patriots.
I see the Pats getting the job done, but this is going to be a close game.
The match-up against the 3-11 Dolphins should be a bit easier. Miami’s offense is horrendous, putting up just 17 points per game on the season 29th in the NFL and is the worst rushing team in the league.
It only gets worse from there. The Fins defense is atrocious, allowing 31 points per game on average, which is the worst scoring defense stat in the NFL. The Pats, despite their offensive missteps, should pound the Fins into the field and still sneak away with another division win regardless of what happens with the Bills.
The Bills could get a win and put some pressure on the New England Patriots, especially with their elite road defense. But it’s hard to imagine the Pats losing to this Dolphins team in Foxboro, which is what would have to happen to up-root this wild card landscape.
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