Sean McDermott is 0-6 against Bill Belichick, but these aren't the same Patriots. Cam Newton's deep slump, which started before his positive COVID-19 test, has distracted from how much worse New England's defense is this year. That's welcome news for Josh Allen, who hasn't led the Bills to more than 18 points in any of their last three games after averaging over 30 in their first four. Allen's struggles against Belichick are well-documented, and Buffalo's defensive shortcomings versus the run could keep this game close. Still, the talent gap is wide. The Bills should have been ready to beat a limited Pats team in Foxborough last December. If they can't do it now, something is seriously wrong.
Buffalo Bills 24, New England Patriots 18
MDS's take: It's time for a changing of the guard in the AFC East. The Bills will cruise against a Patriots team that just doesn't have it.
MDS's pick: Bills 27, Patriots 20.
Florio's take: The Bills can't run or stop the run. The Patriots can do both, and they can frustrate Josh Allen and the Buffalo passing game.
Florio's pick: Patriots 23, Bills 20.
It isn't easy for anyone to accept that the Buffalo Bills might finally be good (especially considering some recent poor performances) or that the New England Patriots might finally be bad (Bill Belichick remains their head coach).
And so it's also appropriate that our writers are deadlocked with Buffalo laying a field goal plus a terrifying hook at home Sunday against the Pats.
Miller on Buffalo: "Don't overthink it. The Bills didn't look like a dominant team in their two losses, but this is still a tough, formidable defense with a high-octane offense that can generate big plays and big point totals."
On the other hand, Kahler on New England: "I am never going to count the Patriots out. I just won't do it. I'll be stunned if they lose four in a row. Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick and Cam Newton have got to be reinventing the offense this week, and I'm not taking the Bills and a streaky Josh Allen here."
- Davenport: Buffalo
- Gagnon: New England
- Kahler: New England
- Miller: Buffalo
- Sobleski: Buffalo
- Tesfatsion: New England
Score Prediction: Bills 23, Patriots 20
After the first few weeks of the season, these teams looked like two of the N.F.L.'s best. Since then, the Bills' (5-2) offensive struggles joined their defensive issues among the team's concerns. The Patriots (2-4) have outdone that by simply being awful, since starting 2-1. A case could be made that one of these teams will leave Sunday's game with some momentum, but Buffalo managed to attract even more doubters when it "only" beat the Jets, 18-10, last week, without scoring a single touchdown. In searching for a reason for New England's struggles, TV commentator Jeff Garcia took aim at Cam Newton's postgame outfits rather than any legitimate reasons like, say, the team's defense, which has been flailing equally against the run and the pass despite the presence of cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Pick: Bills -3
Scroll through to see the team practice in Bills Stadium before this Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.
The Patriots haven't lost four straight games since 2002, and the poor quarterback play is eye-opening. New England QBs have combined for just three TDs and 11 interceptions this season. The Bills will be more than happy to pile on.
Pick: Bills 27, Patriots 14
The Patriots have looked awful in their last two games, but the Bills haven't been cooking either. This is the game that could define whether the Bills are ready to take the division from the Patriots. New England's defense has major issues right now, which is why I think Josh Allen will exploit it. New England's troubles continue.
Pick: Bills 28, Patriots 20