Sure, the AFC East might be hanging in the balance and the conversation about the No. 1 seed in the AFC dies with a loss, but Monday night's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots is more important than any of that.
There is no world in which the Patriots can immediately get back to the high life, thinking that success is just theirs to drink, on tap, whenever they’d like.
There is no scenario where it is good for the sport if the Patriots line up, and start winning divisions with a guy named Michael McCorkle Jones. This man has already trademarked his “TB12” with “MJ10”, and while that’s totally fine... COME ON DUDE.
We just got out of the old world, where every decision they made was brilliant. We just got out of a dark time, in which every single draft miss and free agent flop was quickly swept under the rug because they had some sort of mythical “#WAY” about them.
We just finally watched a narrative die off, never to be seen again. And yet, here it is rearing its ugly head.
A Patriots win would mean another win for Mac Jones and company. There will be talk of them running the table. The AFC will “go through Foxboro,” and the takes that come with it will melt our eyes.
Soon, you will be asked to believe that of all the quarterbacks available in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots preferred Jones to all the others. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, because that’s never mattered with the winners-write-the-history Patriots.
You remember how the Patriots never used to sign big-money free agents because they were so smart about everything, right? Then this offseason they spent a lot of money in free agency and if they’re immediately good, the "Patriot Way" nonsense will forget its own past and simply point out that Bill Belichick was playing four-dimensional Settlers of Cataan, swindling the entire league.
It won’t matter that they spent a ton of money on Jonnu Smith (who I do think is good and underused) and he’s been a non-factor for them. It’ll just be a small don’t-look-at-that mistake that they make that gets forgotten about because when New England wins, everything is on purpose.
It has already begun.
That New England’s 2-4 start is a good thing that motivated them to being an underdog team. While their former G.O.A.T. quarterback continues to succeed and win Super Bowls and rob us of anything interesting happening in the NFL, here, apparently, comes New England to threaten to bore up the AFC the same way.
A Brady vs. Belichick Super Bowl would be an all-timer, right?
No. It would be horrible. It would be the most disgusting narrative clash in the history of football.
It can’t happen.
The Patriots being good is boring. Their fans are awful. Their media is, perhaps, the worst of it all.
They had two decades, and now that they’ve had two good months, this turning sphere we all sit on appears to be tilting back toward something we thought we had escaped. We will hear how *humble* they are, and how they’re buying in like other quarterbacks do not.
They cannot win this game.
The Bills have become a fun team. The Bills put on a show. It’s not the soulless Patriots offense that sees a game manager celebrated because he can execute scripted dump-offs and five-yard gains.
The Bills have fans that literally jump through tables, and that appears to be the reason that other people around the world like them. That’s it. F1 Driver Daniel Ricciardo flat out picked the Bills as his favorite team, because he could picture him and his idiot friends (I mean that nicely) jumping through tables.
Nobody likes the Patriots, and nobody likes anybody that likes the Patriots.
It’s a "Monday Night Football" game at home, and it’s not just a cursory game thrown at Buffalo to get them the obligatory prime-time game here or there. This one means something. It means a lot.
It’s a test for the coaches. It’s a test for the quarterback. It’s a challenge to their very new claim as the cream of the crop in the AFC. The Bills held that crown for a year and… 10 weeks.
A loss Monday will definitely hurt their chances to win the division, but more than that, it will change the conversation about last year’s team. Instead of the Bills representing a new mounting uprising, it’ll be treated as a blip on the radar. “Hey, you had a nice season."
Get ready for that.
The crown weighs heavy, and the last team to wear it wore it for 20 years. One year on top… One? Miami did that once. Cool story, right?
The Bills must get it back. They must prove that even if this new version of New England will routinely challenge them, they’re up to this game. They’ll play again, and we’ll see how the season and playoffs all play out, but this one game… this game Monday night...
For Greater Buffalo, and for greater society…
The Bills have to win.