BOSTON (CBS) — This is a big one.
After winning six straight and turning their season around, the Patriots will now have the opportunity to prove that they belong atop the AFC East. On the flip side, the Buffalo Bills will be eager to take back their spot as division leaders — and they’ll have 70,000 of their closest friends cheering them on to make that happen.
On what will be a freezing cold, very windy and possibly wet Monday night in Buffalo, the Patriots and Bills will duke it out. Here’s how the WBZ and CBS Boston sports team sees this one playing out.
Dan Roche, WBZ
This is a great test and learning experience for this group of Patriots — win or lose. They’ll find out exactly where they are when it comes to being a Super Bowl contender.
Getting ahead is key for the Pats. Josh Allen will use his arm and especially his legs in this one, so Pats need to maintain their physical pounding game.
Bill Belichick will look to keep it close, using all three phases of the game.
Patriots 27, Bills 24
Levan Reid, WBZ
So this is the biggest game of the year for both teams. I expect the Buffalo atmosphere to be its calm and loving self … not. But this is a game you want to watch, and for the players, one you want to take part in.
The Pats have an identity. They are smash mouth on offense and defense, and they execute in the kicking game. That’s gonna be a key they can hold on to.
Patriots continue to win.
Patriots 27, Bills 24
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
These teams are evenly matched to a ridiculous degree. The Bills have the No. 1 defense in terms of yards allowed, while the Patriots rank fourth. In terms of points allowed per game, the Patriots rank first and the Bills rank second.
The Bills have the better offense, ranking second in points per game, where the Patriots rank seventh.
It’s that slight edge plus the home-field advantage that has me leaning Buffalo in what should be a close game where points are hard to come by.
Bills 13, Patriots 10
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
The pressure is on the Bills this week. Lose to the Patriots and they’re essentially back to where they’ve been the last two decades, and the pressure will only mount the rest of the way.
For the Patriots, making Josh Allen make mistakes is key, obviously. Expect lots of Christian Barmore up the middle to try to throw him off his game — and lots of Matt Judon getting in his face. This is also a big test for Mac Jones in his first taste of Monday Night Football.
I think the Pats will lose a close one, but not the kind of loss that will stomp out all their momentum.
Bills 27, Patriots 24