Bill Belichick narrows down to Bills playoff rematch, but the momentum is up against the Patriots


Belichick says the Patriots-Bills III doesn’t offer “any major advantage” to either team. But the Bills have the advantage of playing better football than the Patriots.

Josh Allen broke through in Week 13 on a tackle attempt from New England Patriots middle linebacker Jahn Bentley. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

The Patriots could have a nearly 40-second and potentially ill-fated Brandon Staley timeout to play a Bengals team never seen before traveling to Cincinnati.

Instead, the Raiders plowed forward in overtime on Sunday night and went for the kill, hitting a field goal that pushed them past the Chargers and leapfrogged the Patriots into the wildcard standings. That means New Englanders will travel to Orchard Park, NY to face the devil they know all too well: Buffalo Bills.

This time around, it’ll be the winner-take-all: both for bragging rights on the season and a chance to advance to the playoffs. Who doesn’t love a good rubber match with everything on the line?

But in his Monday morning interview With WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show”, Patriots coach Bill Belichick tried to portray Saturday’s clash with the Bills as (mostly) just another game.

“I think for our team, we have to look at it the same way we looked at the other games against Buffalo,” Belichick said. “It’s a big game, and we’ve played 17 games this year, plus three preseason games, so it’s really just playing a good football game. Whatever the wild card and seeding and all that, its Nothing to do with the outcome of the game really.

“The game will be determined by how well we prepare, play those 60 minutes. That is really our challenge. I don’t think there is much need to look back, we need to look ahead and, like I said, put out our best football on Saturday night.

Naturally, it would be hard to expect Belichick to say anything different publicly about a Division rival. On top of that, he and the Patriots are still grappling with their inability to do what the coach just said against Miami: play 60 minutes of continuous soccer games. Sunday afternoon’s sluggish defeat for the Dolphins is a disappointing way as New England could go into their playoff preparation this week.

Still, the idea that the Patriots would view the game “the same way” as their other competitions against the Bills or “just” focus on playing good football is coach-speak. It’s up to a shot at competing for a Super Bowl, and it’s also about who is the real power in the AFC East.

Right now, the bills are in full swing. After losing the Snow-Globe game of Week 13 in Buffalo to a Patriots team that only passed the ball three times, Josh Allen and crew arrived at Gillette Stadium a few weeks later to pitch New England for 60 minutes of football. Gave. In the process, Buffalo took control of AFC East on their way to a second straight division title and won their last four games. Meanwhile, New England dropped three of their last four after a win over Buffalo.

Throw in the fact that Buffalo has won three of the last four meetings between the Patriots, and it doesn’t feel like a matchup that favors New England. Allen has climbed, which was clear in week 16, and Mack Jones is going through growing pains at the worst possible times.

So, despite Belichick downplaying the rematch as “similar for both teams” without “any major advantage”, the reality feels different. Buffalo is playing better football than New England, and the Bills have a better quarterback.

This is where having a better head coach than the Patriots — the best in the NFL — means something.