Patriots fans rightfully laughed at the Buffalo Bills back in early December when Mac Jones made three pass attempts, Bill Belichick ran the ball down Sean McDermott’s throat, and New England took home a 14-10 victory, putting themselves in the driver’s seat for the AFC East division title.
Now we’re back to where it all began. The Patriots stumbled over the final month of the season, going 1-3, and will be visiting Buffalo for the AFC Wild Card Game on Saturday. One of those losses was a 33-21 beatdown at the hand of the Bills in Foxborough. Not so funny now, is it?
Some confident fans feel the narrative for the Patriots to succeed is alive and well. “We’ve been better on the road!” “The weather conditions could help us again!” “This is Bill Belichick in the playoffs we’re talking about!”
Only problem? We know it’s been said excessively, but once things go off course for this Patriots team, it’s not pretty. They can’t play from behind, and they look out of sorts when they do. When Jones is forced to carry the team with his arm, it’s not exactly discouraging … but it doesn’t really work. The Patriots’ success is predicated on a run-heavy offense and stingy defense. And that’s going to have to be the game plan yet again on Saturday because the Bills have owned the Patriots’ passing game since 2017.
Yup, not even Tom Brady could shake the Bills defense through the air.
The Patriots can’t pass against the Bills … and that’s not an exaggeration.
The Patriots might be 7-3 against Buffalo over that span, but here are the passing stat lines across those 10 games:
- 2017 Week 13 – Tom Brady was 21/30 for 258 yards and one interception
- 2017 Week 16 – Tom Brady was 21/28 for 224 yards with two touchdowns and one interception
- 2018 Week 8 – Tom Brady was 29/45 for 324 yards
- 2018 Week 16 – Tom Brady was 13/24 for 126 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions
- 2019 Week 4 – Tom Brady was 18/39 for 150 yards with one interception
- 2019 Week 16 – Tom Brady was 26/33 for 271 yards with one touchdown
- 2020 Week 8 – Cam Newton was 15/25 for 174 yards
- 2020 Week 16 – Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham combined for 9/21 passing with 74 yards
- 2021 Week 13 – Mac Jones was 2/3 for 19 yards
- 2021 Week 16 – Mac Jones was 14/32 for 145 yards with two interceptions
Even those Brady games were bad for his standards, which is saying a lot. Ever since Josh Allen took over the starting job, the Bills are 3-5 against New England, which isn’t a bad stretch considering that includes an 0-2 sweep his rookie season. Now that he’s become one of the most prolific passers in the game, it’s a different story.
In what have been mostly close calls over the last three years, Belichick has still yet to crack the McDermott code. Why can’t the Patriots pass against the Bills? Is it the fact a lot of these games have been played in tough weather late in the year?
Whatever it is, a run-only approach won’t beat the Bills again this time around, especially with the way they’ve been playing. And the division rivals have made it clear they aren’t going to let it happen again, either.
But even more concerning is if Brady wasn’t putting forth his best passing games (or even anything close) against McDermott’s Bills, what makes anyone think Jones will be able to on the road against arguably the league’s best defense?