The Buffalo Bills enter Week 18 on an emotional roller coaster of thinking you lost a teammate on the field to learning that he is making significant strides in recovery. Buffalo is 12-3 in the record books and still has a chance to earn the number one seed in the AFC. The Bills enter their Week 18 clash with the New England Patriots riding a six-game winning streak and have a chance to push New England one step closer to missing the playoffs. Here are the top five things I believe Buffalo needs to do to extend its winning streak and knock the Patriots to the brink of playoff elimination when they take the field Sunday at 1:00 in Highmark Stadium.
Ride the Wave
Emotions, when harnessed, can be a good thing. If you let them own you, they become a burden. The Bills are in a spot where there is no way they can suppress their emotions and play on Sunday as though it is just another game. Their teammate, Damar Hamlin, will be on their minds no matter how many more amazing strides he makes in recovery. Buffalo must figure out how to put those feelings to use for good. They are seven-point favorites over the Patriots, per BetUS.com. If the Bills play their game while utilizing the raw realness of their situation, that score could be even more lopsided in Orchard Park on Sunday.
Josh Allen has owned the Patriots of late. His last performance against the Pats was a Thursday night game where all the QB did was throw for 223 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. Add that to what he did just over a year ago, where he had one of the greatest games of his career and arguably the best QB performance in the playoffs. The Bills topped the Pats 47-17 behind 308 yards, five touchdowns, on 84% passing from Allen. According to CBS Sports, Allen has had three games against New England where he went for over 300 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Allen is one of the Bills’ most emotional players, he wears his feelings on his sleeve, sorry Pat Patriot.
You know all those good numbers about Allen and what he has done of late against New England? Well, take them and flip them upside down, and you have Mac Jones versus the Bills. In his three career regular-season starts against Buffalo, Jones has 359 yards passing (total) and one touchdown to three interceptions. So, let Josh be Josh + make Mac be Mac = profit.
Run the Rock
The Bills’ 168.7 rushing yards per game over their last three games is second-best in the NFL. They’re getting better at the thing they apparently can’t do. If you listen to pundits, Buffalo can’t run the ball, but the success on the ground isn’t a new phenomenon. Their 142.8 yards per game ranks seventh in the league. It won’t be an easy task against the Pats, who are sixth in rushing yards allowed per game (106.4) and second in rushing TDs allowed per game (0.4). The Bills won’t have to run the ball to win, but showing dominance on the ground in Week 18 could go a long way into the playoffs as well.
All Gas, No Brakes
Whether it is through the air or on the ground, the Bills need to keep the peddle to the metal. The offense enters Week 18 averaging 28 points per game, good enough for fourth-best in the league. They’re scoring touchdowns on 80% of red zone trips in the last three weeks. Plus, the offense is fantastic in the third quarter scoring 6.2 points per, ranking fifth in the league. The Bills should have no problem scoring in bunches, and if they do so, this will be a great way to end the regular season, not just for the team, but for the fans as well.