The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills matchup on December 26th, is just 20 days removed from their 14-10 barn burner that was played earlier this month. As you could imagine, roster-wise little has changed on either side.
That is why we’re going to switch things up a little bit this week. Instead of focusing on how these teams’ rosters have changed, we’re going to take a deep dive into what has changed around them. The conditions, playoff implications, and even —. This game carries a lot of weight in determining who will have the inside track to the AFC East crown, so let’s familiarize ourselves with what has changed for the Patriots and Bills since their last meeting.
We’ll start with the requisite 53-man roster changes, and as you can see there have been very few on each side.
New England Patriots
Added: S Kyle Dugger (COVID), S Joshuah Bledsoe (PUP), RB J.J. Taylor (COVID)
Lost: LB Calvin Munson, LB Ronnie Perkins (IR), WR Kendrick Bourne (COVID)
Added: LB A.J. Klein (COVID), TE Tommy Doyle (COVID)
Lost: G Jamil Douglas, OT Dion Dawkins (COVID), DE A.J. Epenesa (COVID), WR Cole Beasley (COVID)
Though the losses of Kendrick Bourne, Dion Dawkins, and A.J. Epenesa are not confirmed for the game on Sunday, none of them are eligible to practice until their removal from the COVID list. Cole Beasley is a different story, the unvaccinated receiver is not eligible to return to the team until the end of next week, meaning Buffalo will be without their top slot option. The Patriots also have a decision to make regarding the status Nelson Agholor, who left Saturday’s game with a head injury.
I don’t know if you were aware or not, but it was pretty windy in Buffalo when the Patriots last played there.
In fact, the 35 mph driving winds influenced New England’s decision making so much that they ran the ball on 46 of their 49 offensive plays. This played right into New England’s favor as they entered that matchup looking to control the pace of the game to keep Josh Allen off the field. They did exactly that, and allowed the wind to assist them against Allen’s rocket right arm. Allen finished 15-of-30 for 145 yards and a touchdown, his lowest yardage and completion percentage totals of the season.
Sunday’s matchup likely won’t be influenced by the weather as much, but still may play a part in how each team looks to attack one another during the game. The forecast in Foxborough on Sunday calls for snow showers leading up to and during the game itself.
Pre-Week 13: Entering December 6th’s matchup with Buffalo, the Patriots held an 8-4 record. That was good enough for first place in the AFC East with a half game lead over the 7-4 Bills. At that point the Patriots were the #2 seed in the conference, with Buffalo sitting as the #6 seed.
Post-Week 13: Following their 14-10 win, the Patriots had launched themselves into the #1 seed in the AFC, taking over the spot previously occupied by the Baltimore Ravens. This also meant they held a 1.5 game lead over the Buffalo Bills who then sat as the seven seed in the conference.
Pre-Week 16: Entering their final matchup with the Bills this season, the Patriots have a chance to essentially eliminate the Bills from contention of the AFC East. Despite dropping their game against the Indianapolis Colts, the Patriots still hold a one game lead over Buffalo who split their last two games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers. Those Bills, would need to win out to guarantee themselves a chance at the AFC East crown. In short, the winner of this game will likely end 2021 as the AFC East’s champion.