The Patriots and Bills spent the last month and a half jockeying for position atop the AFC East. New England went to Buffalo in early December and took control, with the Bills coming to Foxborough three weeks later and putting themselves back in the drivers seat. This Saturday, the stakes are raised even higher with the two teams meeting in the playoffs for the first time since 1963.
Since the NFL added a 32nd team and realigned in 2002, there have only been 15 instances of teams facing each other three times in a season after splitting the season series. Generally, they result in close games with 14 of those 15 playoff matchups being decided by 14 points or less.
The results have also been relatively evenly spit based on a couple of key qualifiers. The road team is 9-6 in these games (with five straight wins), while the team that lost the latter of the two regular season matchups – in this case the Patriots – actually have the slight edge in wins at 8-7.
Of course, this is a new game with new teams. Stats such as those above are more contextual, not predictive. But what do the Patriots need to do to stay in line with that pattern? Let’s take a look in this week’s key matchups…