Even though he has only entered the NFL earlier this year, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has played quite a bit of high-stakes football already in his career. A 17-game starter during his college career at the University of Alabama, Jones played in two bowl games plus the National Championship Game.
The Patriots’ upcoming matchup against the Buffalo Bills may therefore not be entirely new territory for him, but it still projects to be a challenging matchup for the young QB. Not only will Jones have to go up against arguably the best defense in football, he also has to face the famously raucous crowd at Highmark Stadium just outside of Buffalo.
Still, Jones is looking forward to his first ever trip to Western New York.
“It’ll be a great experience,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“They bring a lot of energy, and they have a great fanbase. They love football. It’s two great franchises going against each other. A lot of football history. This game coming up, both teams are going to be excited, and there’s going to be energy, so we’ve just got to be ready to go.”
The Patriots have have 18 of 21 road games versus the Bills under Bill Belichick, but they are 0-1 since Tom Brady left last offseason: New England was beaten 24-21 last November, losing on a late-game fumble by quarterback Cam Newton. Buffalo then went on to win the rematch in Foxborough in blowout fashion.
A lot has changed for the Patriots since those two meetings, however, including Jones taking over as the new starting quarterback. With its first-round draft choice at the helm, New England has played some impressive football and has won six straight to improve from 2-4 to 8-4.
The Patriots’ winning streak has also allowed them to take over the division lead, dropping the reigning division champion Bills to the second spot. The two teams’ Week 13 meeting is therefore one with AFC East supremacy on the line.
Needless to say that the Buffalo home crowd will bring its A-game to try to gain an advantage for its team. Jones, however, has downplayed the impact the environment might have.
“I’ve been to a lot of cool stadiums. I’ve been both the backup quarterback and the starter. That’s college. I haven’t really played a ton of NFL games. This’ll be new for me, but I know a lot of guys on the team have played in a lot of big games,” he said.
“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to block out the noise the best you can. It’s going to be loud. You just have to prepare yourself mentally for that. That’s pretty much all you can do. You can look at the past and see what you’ve gone through, but you won’t be able to experience it until it happens.”
The preparation will not just be a mental one for the Patriots, though. As head coach Bill Belichick pointed out, the team is also trying to get ready for crowd noise in practice.
“We prepare for it every week,” he said. “It’s probably louder out there in practices than in the game. Either way, it’s loud.”