8 storylines to watch for during Bills at Patriots

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Nick Wojton
·4 min read
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It’s Wednesday so the Buffalo Bills are now turning their attention to their next opponent. After a Saturday win against the Denver Broncos, the Bills will head back out on the road for the final time during the regular season, visiting the New England Patriots (6-8) on Monday Night Football.

With that, here are eight storylines to follow this week as the Bills (11-3) are set to face the Patriots in Week 16:

Will the Pats be motivated?

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, the Bills knocked the Patriots out of the AFC East title race, and last week the Dolphins took them out of the postseason in general. The That's the first time since all the way back in 2008 since that's happened. Earlier in 2020, it took a late fumble by Patriots quarterback Cam Newton for Buffalo to top New England so it's not out of the question that this game is close. But at that time, the Patriots had something to play for. Now they're out of it and we have not seen such circumstances under Bill Belichick... maybe ever? It's been a long time. Buffalo's Sean McDermott found ways to motivate his guys in 2018 when they were out of it, but does Belichick have that same type of motivation in him?

Playoff seeding

Bengals middle linebacker Josh Bynes (Gannett photo)

The whole talk this week will be about Buffalo's potential playoff seeding. Could the Bills be No. 2 in the AFC? It's likely. Buffalo needs a win vs. the Patriots and some help. The Titans and Steelers have to lose this weekend as well in order for that to be locked up prior to Week 17. No. 1 is basically out of the question, though. The Chiefs have the head-to-head win against Buffalo from earlier this year.

First Patriots sweep since...

Patriots' Bill Belichick. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

McDermott led the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 NFL season back in 2017. Now he's looking to do another first since that year, sweep the Patriots. With a win on Monday, the Bills would beat the Pats twice in one season for the first time this century.

Could Allen sneak into MVP discussion?

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It's still probably a great bet to guess Josh Allen does not win the 2020 MVP Award. But Buffalo's quarterback is a sneaky bet. On Wednesday, he earned his fourth AFC Player of the Week Award and he officially has more of those than anyone in the NFL this year. With another two good games down the stretch, perhaps to lock up the No. 2 seed, a higher spot than anyone expected Buffalo to be... could Allen do it? A longshot, but maybe. He'd be going head-to-head against a few guys like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Derrick Henry.

Last we see of Cam?

Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the way the 2020 season has gone, one has to wonder, is Pats' QB Cam Newton one-and-done in New England? Hasn't been a great year for him, and maybe he doesn't even play this weekend vs. the Bills? If Newton does, he's certainly auditioning for his job... and will need to pass that test with flying colors if he wants to be back.

No Gilmore, no problem?

Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Every week is a "could be a big game for a Bills wide receiver game." But... adding to that? Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore's season is over. He suffered a quad injury last week and won't play in their final two games. Not a lot of reason to, either. Clearly bodes well for Stefon Diggs & Co. But Patriots cornerback JC Jackson has had a thing for intercepting Allen is his career, so don't take it completely lightly.

More records?

Quarterback Josh Allen #17 and wide receiver Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Another week, another chance for records to be broken by Allen and Diggs. Here are the latest: Allen needs four touchdown passes to break Jim Kelly's single-season record of 33. Diggs needs 55 receiving yards to break Eric Moulds' single-season record of 1,314. Those two were set in 1991 and 1998, respectively.

Injury watch

Bills wide receiver John Brown. Credit: Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

Here's a rundown of the injury watch for this week. The Bills surprisingly had a couple of guys go down last week against the Broncos. Will practice on Wednesday per McDermott: CB Tre'Davious White, WR Stefon Diggs, WR John Brown (still on IR). Will not practice: RT Daryl Williams, DE AJ Epenesa, WR Andre Roberts. Patriots name to monitor this week: WR Julian Edelman, who did not play last week but did practice for the first time since Week 7. Along with Edelman, early-week names to watch for the Patriots: C David Andrews, LB John Simon, LB Ja'Whaun Bentley. Note: McDermott made this announcements via WGR-550 radio.