The New England Patriots won 24-17 against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. Beating the Bills seems like business as usual, but this game was a bit different.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been very hard on the 2019 New England Patriots. They have a record of 12-3 but that hasn’t stopped us Patriots from being critical. Needless to say, we are spoiled.
A couple of days have passed since the Patriots prevailed against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. That’s plenty of time for us to reflect on the game and what it means for the Patriots going forward.
For starters, it keeps New England in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. While they can no longer obtain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they still control their own destiny in terms of getting the second bye week.
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In order to officially be the No. 2 seed, all they need to do is beat the Miami Dolphins at home next week. Alternatively, the Kansas City Chiefs losing would also ensure the Patriots get the bye. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say the Patriots would rather not have to rely on the Chiefs being beaten.
The bye week is valuable in more ways than one. It guarantees a home game in the Divisional Round, but for the Patriots that is not the most important aspect.
This team is banged up, especially on the offensive side. Not having to play on Wild Card Weekend would be a huge boost for them in terms of getting everyone healthy. While no team is going to be 100 percent healthy going into the playoffs, the teams that have a bye week gain a significant advantage due to the extra rest.
The Patriots need the bye week. Without it, these injuries are likely to catch up with them. We can expect them to put their best foot forward against the Dolphins in order to earn the time off.
The other encouraging factor in the Patriots’ win over the Bills is the fact that the Bills are a damn good team. We aren’t used to that being the case, but it’s true. The Patriots beat a very impressive team and their much-maligned offense looked solid while doing it.
The Buffalo Bills came into the game with a 10-4 record and a top five defense. That didn’t stop the Patriots from moving the ball to the tune of 414 total offensive yards. Tom Brady had a passer rating of over 100 for the first time since Week 5 against the Washington Redskins.
A spark of life offensively is enough to get excited, but this game had more important implications for New England. If they lost, they would be leapfrogged by the Chiefs and the AFC East would still be up in the air going into Week 17. It was a playoff atmosphere against a worthy opponent, and the New England Patriots delivered in the classic resilient fashion that fans have been waiting to see all season long.
It’s popular to count this team out every year for one reason or another. That being said, Saturday’s game is another reminder that the AFC runs through the New England Patriots until proven otherwise in January. Home-field advantage or not, this team is still very much alive.