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On December 7, the Bills and Patriots participated in perhaps the most bizarre game of the season. Because of absurd wind conditions in Buffalo, New England threw the ball just three times, ran for 222 yards, and held the Bills’ offense to 10 points. The Patriots won 14-10 as the wind blew Josh Allen’s passes to the stands late in the game — well, at least out of reach for his receivers.
On the surface, this game didn’t tell us much about either team. You don’t judge a Zoomer on his Grandmother’s WiFi and you don’t judge teams in wind storms. Moreover, the Bills offense erupted in New England two weeks later, proving the first game misleading. However, it now seems as if the film for the first matchup — we will call it Gone with the Wind — could hold the keys to victory this weekend.
The forecast calls for a low temperature of 0° in Orchard Park on Saturday night when the two teams meet for the third time this season. The game kicks off at 8:15 pm. There’s also a near 40 percent chance of snow.
Advantage: New England.
While the Bills are the better team, the Patriots are better suited to perform in inclement weather. Though both teams play in cold-weather cities, they play with opposite styles. And Gone with the Wind proved how unpleasant weather conditions halt the Bills’ high-volume passing attack.
The Athletic found that Josh Allen is hardly a superhero in frigid temperatures. In games 31 degrees or colder, Allen is 3-2 with a 50% completion percentage, 166.6 yards per game average, and has thrown six touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Conversely, the Patriots are one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL. Bill Belichick prefers to keep rookie QB Mac Jones away from the ball during meaningful drives. Jones might throw the ball more than three times on Saturday, but Belichick can dream, right?
So what does all of this mean for the game’s outcome?
I still expect the Bills to beat the Patriots but in a much closer contest. FanDuel SportsBook favors the Bills by four points. In normal conditions, I would take the Bills -4. Saturday won’t be normal. The weather may force the Bills to rely more on Devin Singletary’s red-hot legs and less on Allen’s arm. Thus, a clock running 23-20 or 20-17 game is in play. Take the Pats +4.
The weather, the only creature more bothersome to sports bettors than the refs.