When the Buffalo Bills hosted the rival New England Patriots in prime-time less than six weeks ago, colder temperatures and harsh wind gusts eliminated any semblance of home-field advantage. The old-school, ground-and-pound battle didn't bode well for Buffalo's offense or defense, and they lost, 14-10.
While the winds won't be too challenging when the teams meet again in a marquee AFC Wild Card Round matchup at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night, it will be the bitter-cold that could play a huge factor in this game.
The AFC East champion Bills will have an opportunity to re-assert themselves as true title contenders, while proving they can get over the Patriots hump. After all, they looked rather sharp in Foxboro, back in Week 16.
"It's your psyche, and that's what Sean McDermott played into [in Foxboro]," NFL on CBS analyst Charles Davis told "The DA Show" on Wednesday morning. "I'm sure he used every boxing, wrestling, martial arts, street-fighting analogy he could come up with for that game, and his team responded accordingly. Because they went there, got it done, I don't know that holds true to do it again the same way... But to me, it's bigger than that now.
"To me it's, 'Guys, every time that we think we're rid of New England and the specter and the psyche, they're right back at us and people are bringing it up. If we take care of business this time and run the division truly for two years in a row, maybe we can have that tamped down, where it's not a question next year. That's where they are... Every time they think they're past New England, they're staring at them one more time. This is a big one."
Buffalo was simply overwhelmed in the trenches during its first meeting with New England, as they allowed a staggering 222 rushing yards on 46 carries. From start-to-finish, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones racked up just 19 passing yards, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, his pass three attempts were the fewest in a game in franchise history.
Luckily for the Bills, their alarming defensive struggles didn't travel with them to Gillette Stadium on Dec. 26. The unit held Jones to just 145 passing yards and forced two interceptions in a 33-21 win, and the Patriots' three rushing scores occurred on plays inside the red zone. Bills quarterback Josh Allen also performed exceptionally well, throwing for 314 yards with three scores and rushing for a team-high 64 yards on 12 attempts.
Buffalo (11-6) and New England (10-7) are scheduled to kick off at 8:15 p.m. EST on Saturday in Orchard Park. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Bills have a 70% chance to advance to the AFC Divisional Round and a 16% chance to reach Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.
The entire NFL conversation between Davis and DA can be accessed in the audio player above: