Saturday’s night cap features the New England Patriots (10-7, 6-2 away) taking on the Buffalo Bills (11-6, 5-3 home) for the third time this season in the AFC Wild Card contest. Buffalo, the three seed in the AFC, hosts the sixth-seeded Patriots. The two teams split the regular-season series against each other.
The kickoff for Saturday’s match is at 8:15 p.m. EST at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo is a 4.5-point favorite, and the over-under total is 44 points.
What to Know – New England Patriots
New England makes its 28th playoff appearance in franchise history and 18th under head coach Bill Belichick. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones makes his playoff debut, backed by a dominating defense. The Patriots sputtered down the stretch, losing three of their final four games.
The Patriots averages 27.2 points per game behind 367.6 yards of total offense. New England’s defense ranked second in the league in scoring, surrendering 17.8 points per game to opponents, and fourth in yards allowed at 310.8 yards.
Jones threw for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns during his rookie campaign, completing 67.6 percent of his passes and throwing 13 interceptions. Damien Harris just missed 1,000-yards on the ground, but post career-marks in attempts (202), yards (929), and touchdowns (15).
New England went 10-7 against the spread during the regular season and 5-3 ATS on the road. The Patriots are 7-3 ATS over their last ten games of the season.
What to Know – Buffalo Bills
The Bills return to the postseason for the second season in a row after the postseason evaded the franchise for over 25 years. Buffalo closed out the season with four straight victories, including a 33-21 triumph over these Patriots on the road.
Buffalo’s offense was third in the league in scoring (28.4 ppg) and fifth in yards per game (381.9). The Bills’ had the league’s best scoring defense, limiting opponents to 17.0 points and 272.8 yards per game.
Josh Allen threw for 4,407 yards and was second on the team with 763 yards rushing. Allen tossed 36 touchdowns and added six on the ground. Stefon Diggs was his favorite target, hauling in 103 receptions for 1,225 yards and ten touchdowns.
The Bills were 9-6-2 ATS and 4-3-2 at home. Buffalo is 1-9 straight up at home over their previous ten games against New England.
The Pick is In
The top two scoring defenses in the league go toe-to-toe in what should be a low-scoring, heavyweight fight in freezing temperatures. You can never underestimate Belichick in the playoffs, and you can guarantee he’ll have a plan to contain Allen.
The difference in the game will come down to who can move the ball and find the endzone. Buffalo’s firepower on offense will be the difference, with the Bills able to find the endzone one more time than the Patriots.
Betting Pick: Buffalo Bills -4.5