For the past two decades, the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East. While this is unlikely to change in 2019 — the team would have to go 0-2 over the final two weeks of the season to give the Buffalo Bills a theoretical chance at earning the division crown — the team’s rivals from Buffalo are entering this week’s matchup with plenty of confidence. And why would they not feel good about themselves at this point in time?
The Bills locked up a playoff spot last week, secured their first 10-win season since 1999, and can make a statement on Saturday against the divisional powerhouse that won 33 of the 37 meetings between the two clubs since the start of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era in 2001. Now is the time for Buffalo to demonstrate that it can not just hang with the big boys in the NFL — like it did in Week 4 against New England — but actually beat them as well.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who registered a quarterback hit during the last meeting between the teams in late September, talked about the team’s mindset heading into this week’s game during an interview on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Thursday: “I think everybody’s excited. Obviously, this is the game that’s going to probably really define us and really give us some motivation and some extra boost going into the playoffs.”
“The Patriots have dominated the AFC East for the last 15 years, and so it’s up to us to start changing that and earn the right to be called a contender. This game, I think, is going to help define that and really help motivate guys, and pushes them to the playoffs,” continued the 36-year-old who has been a part of just one victory against New England in nine career tries — coincidentally a contest during which Tom Brady did not play even a single snap.
Alexander and the Bills defense are a big reason why the team is sitting at 10-4 entering the penultimate week of the regular season, and the Patriots know that the unit will present a considerable challenge due to its recent play. Running back James White, who led New England with eight catches for 57 yards in Week 4, touched on just that during his press conference on Wednesday and acknowledged that Buffalo has every right to feel confident heading into the highly anticipated matchup.
“Those guys are going to come in here with a lot of confidence,” the 27-year-old said about Buffalo. “They win a lot of big football games, a lot of tough football games, a bunch of good football teams. Winning at Pittsburgh the other day — got a win versus those guys. It’s not easy to win over there. Our focus is completely on them. They’re going to be ready for us and we’d better be ready for them on Saturday.”