The New England Patriots are in a rare spot on Saturday. They have a playoff rematch with a team that beat them in the regular season for the eighth time under Bill Belichick, and facing a division opponent in a playoff “threematch” for only the third time total.
Historically, how have Belichick’s Patriots performed in rematches, specifically coming off a loss? The results are mixed. They’re 10-5 in the regular season against division opponents that won the previous game, but 2-5 in the playoffs against all opponents that beat them in the regular season. Their only playoff wins coming off a loss are an ’06 wild card win over the Jets, and Super Bowl XXXVI over the 2001 Rams.
If this historical data has any bearing on Saturday’s wild card matchup between the Patriots and Bills, then it certainly favors Buffalo, who won 33-21 in Week 16 at Gillette Stadium.
Of those five playoff teams that beat the Patriots after beating them in the regular season, four of them went on to win the Super Bowl. That includes the 2011 Giants, who beat the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI; both of Peyton Manning’s championship runs, with the 2006 Colts and 2015 Broncos; and the 2012 Ravens, who beat the Patriots 28-13 in the AFC title game in Foxboro en route to a Super Bowl win over the 49ers.
The stats may not tell us much in the end, since we’re combining different seasons, teams, etc. But if it tells us anything, it’s that these teams were simply better than the Pats in their given year, and the playoff result was the better team proving it was better.
Which brings us to the biggest question of all: are the Bills and Josh Allen in the class of those Super Bowl-winning teams and quarterbacks? Are they simply better than the Patriots? That’s what most people believed entering the season, so it’s up to the Bills to finish the deal.