Bills vs. Patriots: 5 storylines to watch for in Week 18

Here are five Buffalo Bills storylines to watch for during the lead up to the team’s Week 18 matchup with the New England Patriots:

Heavy hearts turn to inspiration

Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) (UUSAT photo)

Since Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on Monday, the world surrounding the Bills since has been a roller coaster.

Finally, things have turned from worry to inspiration. Hamlin has taken positive steps forward, even no longer needing a breathing tube.

Hamlin’s journey continues, and so does the team’s. Buffalo’s coaching staff will have to correctly guide this locker room into this Patriots matchup with all these attached emotions.

Thus far, Sean McDermott has done a great job doing exactly that throughout this week by all accounts. It will all come to a head on Sunday.

A lot on the line for both

Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond Hamlin and back to a football sense, there is a lot on the line for both teams.

For the Bills (12-3), their postseason seeding has a ton on the line. There is no word yet on exactly how the No. 1 seed will unfold. With their Monday game against the Cincinnati Bengals being canceled, there could be a system where the AFC title game is played a neutral site. But if Buffalo loses on Sunday, that doesn’t matter.

As for the Patriots (8-8), their postseason lives are on the line. If they lose, they don’t have a chance of making it to the dance.

Rolling early

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Once things get going at Highmark Stadium, the Bills will hope for an exact repeat of the last time they played the Pats. They beat them 24-10. While that score isn’t indicative of a blowout, it felt like it.

That’s because Buffalo scored on their first three drives to pull ahead early. Not only would that go a long ways in defeating New England, the Bills would certainly settle any remaining nerves regarding Hamlin’s status.

Mo

Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) hands off the ball to running back Devin Singletary (26) Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

A win is still needed by the Bills. But any Week 18 game for a team heading into the postseason typically involves one thing: Momentum.

The offense led by quarterback Josh Allen, receiver Stefon Diggs, & Co. have seen their passing attack have some ups and downs. Defensively, gaining back their footing in a positive manner will do wonders heading into the playoffs.

Building momentum heading into the postseason is big for any team, let alone one like the Bills with what they’ve endured in recent weeks.

Celebrating those deserving

Denny Kellington of the Buffalo Bills (AP Photo)

During the press conference with Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane on Friday, he noted that the team hopes to honor first responders regarding Hamlin’s injury. Among those that have been mentioned throughout the week is Denny Kellington, Buffalo’s assistant athletic trainer.

No exact word just yet, but Beane said it will be worthwhile.

“I think it’s going to be a great seat if you’ve got a ticket to come here and be a part of this atmosphere,” he said.

Thus far, the Bills have announced that players will wear Hamlin’s No. 3 on their jerseys. Teams across the NFL will honor Hamlin as well.

All of it will be amazing to see:

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Story originally appeared on Bills Wire