When the Patriots’ schedule first came out, Monday night’s game in Buffalo was perfectly placed as a checkpoint for the progress of the season. How competitive would that game be? Would it hold any playoff or division implications? Or would the Patriots be out of contention by the time they faced the Bills?
Those questions have been answered resoundingly. The Patriots enter Monday night with a .5 game lead in the division, and a chance to really put some heat on the Bills with a win. This will arguably be the biggest game of the 120-game history between the two teams.
It could also signal a complete shift in momentum, or return to the normal in the series. Last year, the Bills swept the Patriots and won the division for the first time since 1999. Even though there is another meeting in a few weeks, Monday night’s winner will have a decisive edge in the division race.
What do the Patriots need to do to swing things back in their favor? Here’s a look at what to watch for in this week’s key matchups…