Saturday’s nightcap during Wild Card weekend may well resemble the first half of this week’s College Football Playoff National Championship matchup. After all, the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills 14-10 in a slugfest when the teams first met this season.
Then again, the Bills woke up offensively in the second meeting and came away with a 33-21 win. The weather wasn’t a factor in the rematch and — despite being brutally cold Saturday — the wind isn’t expected to be a factor.
Catching passes in single-digit temperatures isn’t fun, but passing should be far easier than when these teams first met at Highmark Stadium. That certainly is a good thing for Buffalo QB Josh Allen, while presenting yet another challenge for coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
New England’s win came with rookie quarterback Mac Jones attempting just three passes on a night when passing was problematic. That let the Patriots focus on the running game with RBs Damien Harris (111 yards, 1 TD), and Rhamondre Stevenson (78 yards) carrying the offense.
After going just 15-for-30 for 145 yards in the initial meeting, Allen was a crisp 30-for-47 for 314 yards and 3 TDs in Foxborough. Allen led Buffalo in rushing in both matchups, and the Bills may well need a more diversified ground game Saturday night.
The oddsmakers are predicting a tight affair closer to the initial meeting as Buffalo initially laid 4.5 points with the total at 44. As of Jan. 13, the Bills are 4-point favorites with the total remaining at 44.
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Patriots Vs. Bills Prop Bets
Patriots Score First Via Field Goal Against Bills (+360 at Caesars)
The first scores in both regular-season games came via touchdowns, but don’t be surprised if the defenses tighten things up Saturday. If you think Patriots kicker Nick Folk will account for the first points, this is a good bet.
Bills WR Stefon Diggs Over 68.5 Receiving Yards (-110 at FanDuel)
Diggs had seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in the last game between the teams. He had 51 yards in the first game when passing yards were hard to come by. Look for Diggs to be Allen’s top target Saturday.
Patriots QB Mac Jones To Score Game’s First Touchdown (+5000 at DraftKings)
Jones hasn’t recorded a carry in the last two games and has 17 carries over the last eight games. On the season, he has 44 carries for 129 yards. Jones reaching the end zone is highly unlikely, but it’s quite the payout if he does.
Patriots RB Damien Harris Over 56.5 Rushing Yards (-115 at Bet MGM)
Harris practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury that he suffered in the first game against the Bills. He had 111 yards and a touchdown before the injury. Harris returned with a 103-yard effort and 3 TDs in the win over the Bills but hasn’t done much in the last two games. He has 20 carries for 72 yards and 3 TDs since then but will likely revert to form Saturday if fully healthy.
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Bills Should Win Low-Scoring Game
Mac Jones may have led Alabama to a College Football Playoff championship a year ago, but that doesn’t mean the rookie is ready for the NFL Playoffs. The Patriots will rely heavily on the ground game but not as drastically as they did in the first meeting with Buffalo.
In the end, Allen and Bills will ride the energy of the home fans to a low-scoring win, so taking the ‘under’ is your best bet.