The Buffalo Bills have shown signs of struggle at several points this season, but also signs of promise. At 6-5 on the season, Buffalo looked for a big win as they hosted the 9-2 New England Patriots. From the very first snap, things were not going Buffalo’s way.
The Buffalo Bills Continue To Struggle
Bills’ Opening Drive Could’ve Gone Better
Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambled to his left and injured his knee after being tackled by Patriots linebacker David Harris. Yet, the Bills drove down the field with ease on the opening possession. However, a costly interception by former Bill Eric Lee in the red zone put that drive to an end. After the key interception, the Patriots never looked back in route to their tenth win of the season.
It was mainly the rushing attack for the Patriots that did the most damage to the Bills. Rex Burkhead rushed for two touchdowns and Dion Lewis added 92 yards on the ground himself. For the passing game, it was all about Rob Gronkowski. He caught nine passes for a total of 147 yards.
Gronkowski’s Dirty Play
Gronk’s big game through the air wasn’t the highlight of his day. Unfortunately, it was a vicious late hit on TreDavious White after White intercepted Tom Brady. Gronk was given a one-game suspension which was upheld after his appeal earlier this week. He will be absent this Monday night as the Patriots are on the road against Miami.
This is a key loss for the Patriots as they already find themselves struggling to have targets on the field for Brady. Julian Edelman has been out all season and Chris Hogan has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury but could provide a boost to the lineup if he returns in Week 14. On top of those injuries, Martellus Bennett has been placed on Injured Reserve. Because of the depleted pass-catching corps, a lot of the attention is on Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola against the Dolphins’ secondary.
The Bills are one of several teams in the hunt for a playoff spot in the AFC coming down the stretch. They currently sit in 8th place in the AFC at 6-6, just one game behind the Baltimore Ravens who hold the final wild-card spot. The Los Angeles Chargers are in 7th place also at 6-6 but beat the Bills earlier in the season which gives them the tiebreaker. This 23-3 loss to New England in Week 13 was more detrimental than it may seem.
Taylor is listed as questionable to start Sunday afternoon against the Colts. If Taylor is not available to play, the nod goes to Nathan Peterman who threw five first-half interceptions in that loss to the Chargers. This is a must-win game for the Bills. Being 6-7 with your final three games being against division opponents will make it very difficult to land a playoff spot. One of those final three games is a road game against the Patriots.
How the Bills Can Make the Playoffs
If the Bills want to sneak into the playoffs they will most likely need to win three out of their last four games. Their season concludes with the Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, and Dolphins again, with the final two games on the road. The home games against the Colts and Dolphins are must wins. This gets the Bills to 8-6 on the season with two games left. Therefore, they will need to win one of their final two games on the road. A 9-7 record could be enough to get in depending on the finishes of the Ravens, Chargers, Raiders (6-6) and Chiefs (6-6). They will need some help, but the Bills need to get to 9-7 to have as chance.