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Top 6 storylines fans need to follow for Bills at Patriots | Week 16

Devin Singletary (26) Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots, November 1, 2020 at Bills Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert
Devin Singletary (26) Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots, November 1, 2020 at Bills Stadium. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. Sights set on No. 2

If clinching the AFC East on Saturday and the thought of a home playoff game wasn't enough good news, the Bills received more on Monday night. Due to the Steelers Week 15 loss against the Bengals (thanks again Cincinnati), Buffalo is currently in the No. 2 spot in the AFC playoff standings. Even though the Steelers and the Bills have the same record, 11-3, Buffalo holds the tiebreaker due to their win over Pittsburgh in Week 14.

The Chiefs currently hold the No. 1 spot in the AFC playoff standings. It's unlikely that changes because if it were down to Kansas City and Buffalo, the Chiefs own the tiebreaker over the Bills. On their interactive calculator, the New York Times reports the Bills have less than a 1% chance to earn the No. 1 seed and a 70 percent chance at the No. 2 seed.

For Buffalo to lock in their No. 2 spot (based on the New York Times simulator), they need a little help. The Bills need to beat the Patriots on Monday and the Titans (play against Packers) and Steelers (play against Colts) need to lose on Sunday.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott values a high seed because of how it can help the team.

"It's always important to get as high a seed as you can," McDermott said. "That's my firm belief, we want to get as high a seed as we can and play as well as you can and win the games moving forward that you can control. I just think we want to play our best football. I really believe that. We've got a competitive locker room, competitive coaching staff and we want to continue to do our best to grow as a football team at the same time and I think the guys would say the same thing, when you go out there, you want to win.

2. Chance to Sweep the Patriots for first time since 1999

Buffalo has a chance to sweep New England for the first time since 1999. That year, they beat the Patriots 17-7 in Week 12 and 13-10 in an overtime win in Week 16. The Bills finished 11-5 that season and lost in the Wild Card to the Titans. Before their most recent win against the Patriots in Week 8, the team's last victory came in 2016 when Buffalo beat New England 16-0 in Week 4.

Their Week 8 win against the Patriots this season came by just three points in a game where defensive lineman Justin Zimmer forced a fumble and the Bills recovered with just :37 seconds left on the clock. The Bills rushing offense had their best performance of the season racking up 190 yards. Running back Devin Singletary had 14 attempts for 86 rushing yards and running back Zack Moss had 14 attempts for 81 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in an impressive performance.

It won't be easy to score on the Patriots because they have the seventh ranked defense allowing just 21.5 points per game. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who coached for New England most recently from 2013 to 2016, knows they will give the Bills their best.

"You play division games, they're always tough," Daboll said. "They know you, you know them. It's going to come down to playing good, smart, clean football and taking care of the football, executing in the red zone. Converting on third down and doing a good job of executing."

3. Allen and Diggs can reach more franchise records

It seems like in the last six games the Bills have been writing their names all over the record books. It didn't stop on Saturday as Bills quarterback Josh Allen became the second quarterback in franchise history to record at least 4,000 passing yards in a season. Allen also is the first quarterback in NFL history to post at least eight rushing touchdowns in three-straight seasons. The third-year quarterback needs to complete 25 more passes in order to break Drew Bledsoe's single-season record of 375 completions in 2002. Allen is also 360 passing yards away from breaking Bledsoe's single-season passing yards record of 4,359 yards.

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs broke the single-season record of most receptions set by former Bills receiver Eric Moulds who had 100 in 2002. Diggs also became the first Bill to record at least nine catches in three-straight games. The wide out currently has a career-high 1,314 receiving yards, which is the third-most in franchise history in a single season. Diggs needs 55 receiving yards to pass the record of 1,368 receiving yards set by Eric Moulds in 1998.

Former Bills quarterback and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly thinks Allen will break all of his records.

"I'd be surprised if Josh doesn't break all of my records," Kelly told One Bills Live. "After he continues to grow, he'll start breaking his own records. That also means we're winning and we're playing well."

4. Offense + defense peaking at right time

We've heard multiple times from the Bills coaching staff that the team needs to be playing their best football in November and December. Well, the Bills are 6-1 in those two months. Since Week 12, Buffalo's defense is tied for fifth only allowing 18.8 points per game and second allowing only 87.3 rushing yards per game. They also rank fourth allowing opponents to convert third downs just 31.4% of the time during that timeframe.

Since Week 9, Buffalo's offense leads the NFL averaging 34.8 points per game and ranks fourth averaging 406.3 total yards per game. They are also tied for first converting on 50% of their third downs in the last six games. Quarterback Josh Allen has the third-best completion percentage during that time, completing 70.5% of his passes.

Safety Micah Hyde believes the Bills are playing their best football yet.

"This is the NFL, we understand there's challenges each and every week," Hyde explained. "When we were talking to you guys back in August and September, we said we wanted to be playing our best football come November and December. I think we're doing that. We're playing good football right now, and the crazy thing is we can get better."

Head coach Sean McDermott likes what he's seeing, but knows the team can take it to another level.

"I think our team is playing good ball, I really do," McDermott said. "I'll give them a lot of credit and we've got to continue to push one another, encourage one another and hold each other accountable because there's more out there. Not just in terms of the playoffs and everything, but just in terms of what we can do as a team, and I say that respectfully and humbly of course. But that's the growth mindset of there's always something to work on every day. But at the same time, I'm very confident about who we are and chasing more."

5. Another NFL record in reach

The Bills tied an NFL record on Saturday after quarterback Josh Allen threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jake Kumerow. It marked the 13th player that has caught a touchdown for Buffalo this season. The Bills need one more player to catch a touchdown pass in order to have the new NFL record.

Here are a few players who have yet to score through the air this season—running back Devin Singletary, wide receiver Andre Roberts and offensive lineman Dion Dawkins. An offensive lineman wouldn't normally make this list, but Dawkins scored against the Patriots in 2019 and has two touchdown receptions in his career.

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said figuring out how each player fits into the offense has been important in regards to increasing their points per game total.

"We kind of feel we know who we are right now," Daboll said. "Again, every week for us is different based on what we're getting and how we're getting played. But you go back to the foundation of what we believe, which is do a good job of playing smart, tough and dependable. Being high character, have great work ethic, put the team first, and use our pieces the way we can use them."

6. Patriots out of playoff hunt

With a 22-12 loss against the Dolphins on Sunday, the Patriots were eliminated from the playoff hunt. They are third in the AFC East with a 6-8 record. The Patriots will be without an AFC East title and a postseason appearance for first time since 2008. To make matters worse, they are now without star cornerback Stephon Gilmore who will have season-ending surgery.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott doesn't want to take the Patriots lightly. Since Week 12, New England's defense ranks third allowing only 15.8 points per game and first allowing just 153.3 passing yards a game.

"It's the defending AFC East champs that have held that position for multiple, multiple years," McDermott explained. "It's one of the greatest, if not the greatest coach ever to coach our game. They're going to be prepared, they're going to be well-coached and they'll be ready to go. So we're going to have our work cut out for us, and we have to get back to work."

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