The New England Patriots ended the 2021 regular season with an 10-7 record and as the sixth playoff seed in the AFC after a Week 18 loss to the Miami Dolphins. As a result, the team will now play the third-seeded Buffalo Bills in the wild card round next week.
The Patriots’ postseason opener in Buffalo has been scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 15 at 8:15 p.m. ET, the NFL announced on Sunday night. It will be only the second ever playoff meeting between the two division rivals, and the first since 1963.
New England had to wait until the Sunday night matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders to find out who its opponent in the first postseason round would be. A Chargers win would have kept the Patriots in the fifth seed and sent them to play the Bengals in Cincinnati. The Raiders’ 35-32 overtime victory, however, set up another meeting with the Bills this season; it will be the two teams’ third showdown this season.
The Patriots won the first game in Buffalo with a final score of 14-10. The Bills did get their revenge three weeks later, though: they secured a 33-21 victory at Gillette Stadium to take over the top spot in the AFC East — one they held onto throughout the rest of the regular season.
Unlike the Patriots, the Bills enter the playoffs with a win: Buffalo beat the New York Jets 27-10 to earn its second straight division title.
The full AFC playoff schedule, meanwhile, looks as follows:
- (5) Las Vegas Raiders at (4) Cincinnati Bengals: Jan. 15, 4:30 p.m. ET
- (6) New England Patriots at (3) Buffalo Bills: Jan. 15, 8:15 p.m. ET
- (7) Pittsburgh Steelers at (2) Kansas City Chiefs: Jan. 16, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Tennessee Titans will not enter the tournament until the divisional round after earning the top seed in the conference and the lone first-round bye.