New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick proves his greatness yet again

Head Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Head Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the New England Patriots grinded out a massive victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 13, firmly establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the AFC.

The Patriots found themselves in the top seed heading into the game, but a loss would have seen them drop down to the five seed in the AFC. With the win, the Patriots will maintain their standing a top the AFC through next week despite being on a bye week.

Last night’s tilt was easily New England’s most important of the season. For so much of the season, we couldn’t really figure out whether or not this team was a legitimate contender. Those concerns have quickly been washed away, and as it stands, you can argue the Pats are the team to beat in the AFC right now.

The game ended up really not going according to script thanks to some extreme winds in Buffalo, and it fostered the storyline of the night, which was Mac Jones only throwing the ball three times. While the line is a complete obscurity in the NFL today, it’s a testament to the coaching job done by Bill Belichick.

As much as Bills head coach Sean McDermott wants to bellyache that Belichick doesn’t deserve credit for the Patriots win last night, it’s clear Belichick once again made an opposing coach look like a fool. The Patriots may not have as talented a roster as Buffalo, but as long as Belichick is on the sideline, this team will have a chance to win every game they play in.

The New England Patriots benefit once again from Bill Belichick’s greatness

This sort of story is probably way overdue considering the incredible turnaround the New England Patriots have pulled off recently, but Belichick has spent most of the last seven weeks making his doubters look stupid.

The world was so ready to declare former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady the winner of the foolish Brady/Belichick debate after just one season. I’ve never been in favor of this debate, and felt like it was a waste of time to debate which of the two was the best rather than enjoy what they did for this franchise. However, it’s worth noting that those Belichick detractors have quietly gone into hibernation for the time being.

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Belichick and the Patriots have been steamrolling overmatched opponents for weeks now, but it was clear the same would not be possible against Buffalo, especially given the less-than-ideal weather conditions for the game. In reality, the wind probably helped New England more than it hurt them.

Belichick noticed that teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans beat the Bills by running all over them, so he decided to steal their gameplan and inject it with steroids. The New England Patriots spent the entire night pounding the ball down the Bills throats, even despite the fact the Bills were pretty much lining up eight or nine man fronts on every play. Buffalo knew what was coming every time, yet they still couldn’t stop it.

And that’s the beauty of Belichick’s gameplan. He knew that Buffalo could be beaten with runs right up the gut, so that’s exactly what he did, time and time again. It wasn’t like the Patriots didn’t have the ball, so they couldn’t pass it; the Patriots won the time of possession battle (they had the ball for 32 minutes) and dialed up 46 run plays compared to their three pass attempts.

In real time, it was an excruciating game to watch. It felt like Belichick was giving a Buffalo a lifeline to stay in the game, but it was really just part of the plan. The ground game gradually wore down the Bills defense, and they killed the game by draining the clock. This was never more evident than the end of the third quarter, but the Bills defense was bailed out by the quarter ending, and they were able to regroup and force a field goal.

Not only is Belichick rightly labeled a genius for pulling this off, but he got his entire team to buy into the gameplan too. This doesn’t work if the players act like individuals rather than a team. Jones personified this by literally only throwing three passes in this game. It shows a lot about the team you have built when you can tell a budding star in this league that he is going to pretty much be erased from the team’s gameplan, and he’s OK with it if it helps the team win.

You can find examples of this up and down the roster. The offensive line knew they had a long night of run blocking ahead of them, but they did everything they could against stacked front lines every play. The wide receivers and tight ends did everything they could too, and N’Keal Harry in particular stood out on his blocking assignments pretty much everytime he was on the field.

The defense also knew that a combination of the run heavy gameplan and the poor weather could leave them with a lot of their plate, but they stepped up and limited the Bills offense to virtually nothing. Even though Buffalo kept finding their way to the red zone, it never really felt like they were seriously threatening to score. The defense would bend, but once they reached the red zone, they would up their game and Buffalo really just had no answer for what they saw.

Not only was this game plan brilliant for this specific game, but it could pay dividends later this month when these two teams meet up again. Considering the Pats spent pretty much the entire night running the ball, the Bills have seen pretty much none of their pass game, and that’s a huge advantage for next time. Buffalo’s secondary is without their top cornerback in Tre’Davious White for the rest of the season, so there will be some holes to exploit in the air.

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Or they could simply stick with the run game, because they already know it works. The Bills simply couldn’t stop it, and they now find their playoff hopes on life support with a matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on their schedule for next week. On a night where the New England Patriots badly needed a win, Bill Belichick delivered a performance for the ages, and proved that he’s not done just yet.