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AFC East rivals New England (10-7) and Buffalo (11-6) square off in the first round of the playoffs Saturday evening at Highmark Stadium. NFL betting lines opened with Buffalo as a -4½ favorite, the point total at 43½.
It’s the third meeting between the teams, with each winning at the other guy’s venue. New England controlled the Ball (222 rushing yards, just three pass attempts) and the Bills in a brisk 14-10 Week 13 western New York victory. Buffalo returned the favor with a redeeming 33-21 Week 16 win in Foxboro.

After losing their season finale in Miami, the Patriots now shuffle off to suburban Buffalo for a second time this season. The Pats were one of the hottest teams in the league after rattling off seven straight wins. However, they lost three of their final four games-after their bye-and subsequently their shot at a division title.

The offense, with rookie quarterback Mac Jones, has been methodical, but effective. The Patriots averaged 126.5 yards rusing (eighth in league), ranking seventh with a respectable 27.2 points per game.

The defense has been the team’s backbone, finishing the season fourth in total ‘D’ at 310.8 yards/game. Additionally, the unit had 30 takeaways while limiting opponents to just 17.8 points, second only to Buffalo’s 17 ppg.

The Bills are back-to-back AFC East champions after winning their last four games of the regular season. Prior to the late-season run, the maddeningly-inconsistent Bills had lost two consecutive games, three-of-four and five-of-eight. When the dust settled, Buffalo ended as the Number 3 seed in the conference,

Quarterback Josh Allen has been the catalyst, becoming the first player in league history with over 4,000 yards passing and 750 yards rushing in the same season. Additionally, the offense finished fifth in total yards (381.9 ypg), scoring 28.4 points per game.

The Bills boasted the best all-around defense during the season, topping the charts in total defense (272.8) and opposition points per game (17). They finished with 42 sacks and 30 takeaways.

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