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NFL: Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots preview

The Buffalo Bills can retake the lead in the AFC East with a win over division rivals the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football.

Buffalo are neck-and-neck with the Miami Dolphins at 8-3 going into the final stretch of the regular season.

The Bills righted themselves after a mid-season wobble, but if anyone can destabilize them again it is Bill Belichick and his suffocating Patriots defence.

What: Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusets

When: 01:15, Friday 2nd December 2022

How to watch: Sky Sports NFL, NFL Game Pass & Sports Live Streaming

Odds: BUF Bills 20/33, NE Patriots 29/20

Bills came through in the clutch in Motor City

Despite playing on Thursday, neither team is on a short week as both were in action on Thanksgiving Day - albeit with differing fortunes.

The Bills beat the Lions to the punch with a last-gasp field goal in a 28-25 win at their new second home - Ford Field.

Josh Allen came good in the clutch by engineering the game-winning drive to get Buffalo into FG range from the Bills' own 25-yard line with less than 25 seconds left.

Allen hasn't been able to rediscover his early-season form that had put him as a leading MVP candidate. He threw 17 TD passes in the first six games of the campaign, but has found the end zone for just six scores in the last five.

In his past five games against the Patriots, including the playoffs, the former first-round pick has a 66.7% pass completion ratio, 1,241 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception.

New England has struggled to contain him on the ground too, where he has accumulated 227 rushing yards and one TD.

Rare turkey of a performance from Patriots 

The Patriots are coming off a painful loss after falling to a fourth-quarter Minnesota Vikings comeback that dropped them to 6-5 and back to the basement of their division.

Justin Jefferson had a field day in their secondary, catching nine passes for 139 yards and a score, as the Vikings reeled off enough chunk plays to keep the Patriots' defence off balance.

It was only the second time this season that they had allowed an opponent to surpass 300 passing yards and their special teams unit had a spectacularly bad day too.

A 93-yard kick return for a touchdown rubbed out New England's 7-point lead in the third quarter before a running-into-the kicker penalty on a Vikings punt set up Minnesota to take the lead on a fourth-quarter Adam Thielen touchdown reception.

It was a rare day indeed as Opta Stats later revealed that teams that scored at least 25 points, gained at least 400 total yards, outgained their opponent, completed at least 70% of their passes, had fewer than 60 penalty yards, didn't commit any turnovers or miss a field goal were a perfect 170-0 entering Thanksgiving, but that record now reads 170-1.

Mac facing much tougher test

Mac Jones played arguably his best game of the season at U.S. Bank Stadium, throwing for 382 yards and two touchdowns - almost as many yards and more TDs than he had tallied over the previous two weeks combined.

But he was up against a Vikings secondary dealing with multiple cornerback injuries and one that ranks dead last in yards per attempt allowed on the season.

The game was also played in an enclosed dome which aids a weaker-armed QB like him. This Thursday's game is back outdoors and due to be played in blustery winds of between 15-35 miles per hour.

Jones will be also facing a Bills defence among the top five in scoring and ranked seventh against the run. Von Miller's absence through injury will be slightly offset by the return of DE Greg Rosseau for Buffalo, who will increase the snap count of star CB Tre'davious White after his return from injury last week.

The Patriots could be without RB Damien Harris (thigh) and OL Isaiah Wynn (foot) after both missed practices earlier this week.

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Bills can blow out Patriots' playoff chances

The wind should be less of a factor for Allen, albeit he finished on the losing team in last season's infamous clash at Highmark Stadium that was played out amid gusts of up to 46mph and snow flurries.

He did at least throw for 140 yards and a TD while Jones was effectively instructed to just hand it off all night by Belichick, going two of three for 19 yards while Harris carried the Patriots to a 14-10 victory. 

Buffalo has a much better running game too - even if Harris is ready to roll - and should cover the - 3.5 point Spread at 10/11 with relative ease.

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