The Buffalo Bills lost a tough game at home Monday night to the division rival New England Patriots, 14-10. The weather had a very strong impact on how the game played out, with winds blowing consistently between 20 and 30 miles per hour, with some gusts up to 60 miles per hour.
The loss dropped Buffalo all the way to the #7 seed in the AFC standings. That’s a far cry from where they were expected to be at this point in the season.
Here are three key takeaways from the Bills’ loss to New England.
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Bills Week 13 Takeaways vs Patriots
3. The Bills are not built to play in Buffalo
You could see the frustration from Bills players and coaches after the loss. It was evident that the Bills had better, more talented players. They had a more explosive offense. But none of that seemed to matter Monday night.
The conditions and elements had as big of an impact as any player, if not more.
And now it's also snowing in Buffalo. Heavy wind + snow.
Football weather. 💨🏈❄
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 6, 2021
The snow subsided, but the wind only got stronger as the game went on. Bills kicker Tyler Bass missed a short field goal in the 2nd half that was clearly impacted by the wind. The Bills once again could not move the ball on the ground.
For a team that plays in western New York, typically, you would want a team that could play in the elements. But this Bills team is the polar opposite.
They have no running game whatsoever. They also have struggled mightily to stop the run vs power running offenses like the Patriots and Colts. Outside of the Chiefs, the majority of AFC playoff contenders all run the football. The Titans, Ravens, Patriots, Steelers, and Bengals all run the ball effectively. That bodes well for them when the season winds down and winter kicks in. That does not bode well for the Bills.
2. Buffalo was out-muscled and out-coached
Bills head coach Sean McDermott stated in the post game press conference that he did not think coaching and Bill Belichick had much to do with the outcome of the game.
Sean McDermott was unimpressed after being asked about the “psychological component” of coaching against Belichick 🤔 pic.twitter.com/E6G1Qeg7fr
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) December 7, 2021
If you watched the game, it was clear the Patriots game plan was to run the ball, and only run the ball. New England attempted 46 runs and 3 passes. Yes, 3 pass attempts. That’s the fewest pass attempts in an NFL game since 1974. So, Belichick recognized he had a rookie quarterback on the road vs a good defense and did not want to put the ball in harm’s way. So he will force you to stop the ground game.
Yet, the Bills couldn’t. It wasn’t just Damien Harris’ 64-yard touchdown either.
Damien Harris is GONE. 64-yard touchdown! #ForeverNE
📺: #NEvsBUF on ESPN
📱: https://t.co/wsVL8IokGf pic.twitter.com/IzeJz7ucf2
— NFL (@NFL) December 7, 2021
Even if you take that run away, which you can’t, the Patriots still ran the ball for 158 yards. McDermott and the Bills defense stacked the box time and again. It didn’t make a difference as they consistently got blown off the ball. The Patriots picked up chunk yardage on the ground all game.
The Bills need to become more physical at the point of attack. That includes both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Until that happens, this team will struggle to play with the big boys of the AFC.
1. Bills playoff chances took a huge hit
The Buffalo Bills were expected to cruise to a division title. After all, they won the division with 13 wins last season. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots finished below .500 for the first time in 20 years.
After the crushing home loss Monday night, the Bills are 1.5 games behind the Patriots in the division. What’s worse, they are 7-5 overall and only 5-5 in conference games. If they are unable to win the division, a wild card spot is going to be difficult to land.
Buffalo travels to the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. There is a very good chance they lose that game, dropping them to 7-6. They have to play New England again in Foxborough in a few weeks, which will be difficult. They also have matchups against the Panthers, Falcons and Jets on the schedule. The Bills will be favored in all three of those games, but outside the Jets game, you can’t just pencil a victory in for the other two.
The Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos all currently have six losses. The Steelers are 6-5-1, who are in the #8 spot just behind the Bills as of this writing.
Even the red hot Miami Dolphins, winners of five straight games, are in the mix now. There are so many teams in the playoff hunt for wild card positioning.
Seeing as conference record is the first tie-breaker, the Bills five AFC losses could loom large when it all shakes out in the end.