The New England Patriots have every right to feel good about themselves. Following their 2-4 start they have won six straight — the longest winning streak in football — and currently own number one playoff seed in the AFC. In order to stay atop their conference, however, they will need to master their biggest challenge to date: the Buffalo Bills on the road.
Buffalo is entering the game with a 7-4 record, and would overtake New England in the standings in case of a win. Playing in front of raucous home crowd to help defend the division title they earned last week, the Bills are anything but an opponent to take lightly.
The Patriots are certainly not doing that, and their statements over the last week reflect this. That said, they appear to be confident heading into the pivotal primetime matchup — at least if wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is to be believed.
“Hopefully, we come out here and do what we’re supposed to do,” Bourne said. “It’s exciting, and this is what football’s all about: two best teams in the division for bragging rights and so on and so forth. I’m just excited. The team has prepared really well this week, and I think we have a really good shot at shocking the world.”
While a win in Buffalo would not necessarily fall into the shocking-the-world category, it would qualify as an upset: the Bills are listed as 3-point favorites as of Monday morning. What this shows more than anything else, though, is that the game is projected to be a close one.
In order for the Patriots to come away victoriously, they therefore need to show what Bourne described as “competitive stamina.”
“It’s a good test for us. It’s kind of that playoff environment, and it’s going to be a really good test who can have competitive stamina for the longest. That’s really what it takes,” he said.
“Monday night, everybody’s watching, the pressure — it’s all a part, it’s really a playoff feel. It gives us that playoff feel before we even get to the playoffs. It’s just exciting to get a head start at something that feels like where we want to go. We just have to take advantage of it. Whatever may happen, we just have to learn from it, move on, whatever it may be.”
Going against one of the best defenses in football, Bourne is again expected to play a substantial role in the team’s passing attack again. The Patriots’ current leader in receiving yards and one of quarterback Mac Jones’ favorite targets, the free agency acquisition will help move the ball against a very good secondary even without top cornerback Tre’Davious White.
Even though he is entering the contest full of confidence, Bourne knows that the Bills present a major challenge. However, it appears that he is looking forward to it.
“They’re a really good team, they have every piece — good organization — so it’s going to be a challenge,” he said, before adding with a smile: “The Patriots are all about challenges, so it is nothing new to us.”