The New England Patriots have three games left on their regular-season schedule, none more important than this Sunday's rematch with the Buffalo Bills.
After last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo's win over the Carolina Panthers, the Patriots enter Sunday with a one-game lead over the Bills in the AFC East and a two-game lead over the Miami Dolphins, who sneakily have won six straight.
With playoff seeding at stake, the Patriots will hope to duplicate the result of their Week 13 game in Buffalo. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw only three passes in the cold, windy conditions, but New England still was able to escape with a 14-10 victory. Another win over their division rival would bring the Patriots to 10-5, moving them a step closer to clinching the East and earning the top seed in the AFC.
We can count on Jones playing a much bigger role in the Week 16 showdown at Gillette Stadium, but just how effective will he be? Can the rookie outduel his dynamic counterpart Josh Allen?
According to a simulation run by our partners at Strat-O-Matic, the answer to that question is an emphatic "yes." Jones made a statement with 45 pass attempts in the Pats-Bills sim, helping New England overcome an early 14-point deficit with 31 unanswered in the second half to win, 31-14.
Here's how Strat-O-Matic's simulation of the much-anticipated matchup played out.
Mac Jones airs it out
So much for all that "Bill Belichick doesn't trust Mac Jones" talk.
This time, the Patriots let Jones attack the Bills defense any chance he got. The 23-year-old tossed a whopping 45 passes in the sim, completing 28 of them (62.2%) for 274 yards and three touchdowns. New England ran the ball 26 times after tallying 46 rushing attempts in their Week 13 win.
The improved weather conditions didn't help Josh Allen. The Bills signal-caller struggled mightily in the rematch, completing only 14 of his 28 passes for 175 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
Jones' three TD strikes were caught by Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and N'Keal Harry. Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 66 yards and Damien Harris notched 57 yards on six carries, including a nine-yard TD early in the third quarter that gave New England its first lead.
The Patriots defense overcame a sluggish start and bullied Allen and the Bills from the second quarter on. They allowed Buffalo to get off to a 14-0 head start as running back Devin Singletary rushed for a 13-yard TD and wideout Stefon Diggs caught a 57-yard score. After that, they shut out their divisional foe for the remainder of the contest.
Kyle Van Noy sparked the comeback to start the second half with a sack that forced a three-and-out. The Patriots' offense responded by driving 64 yards on six plays, capped by Harris' TD run.
In the fourth quarter, undrafted defensive back Myles Bryant picked off Allen with 9:30 left on the clock and J.C. Jackson added another interception to seal the win with 2:21 remaining. A fumble by Bills RB Matt Breida made it three turnovers on the day for Buffalo.
The Bills were a putrid 2-for-10 on third-down conversions in Strat-O-Matic's simulation. Overall, it was a dismal day at the office for a Buffalo offense that may have performed even worse than it did in its Week 13 defeat.