Patriots

Bill Belichick sounds pretty impressed with Bills' improvement in 2020 season

Patriots

The Buffalo Bills will come to Gillette Stadium for Monday night's Week 16 matchup in an unfamiliar position: AFC East champions.

The New England Patriots had a firm grip on the division crown with 11 consecutive AFC East titles until the Bills knocked them off their perch this season. 

Buffalo officially clinched its first division championship since 1995 with a win over the Denver Broncos last week. It was the Bills' fourth straight victory and seventh win in their last eight games.

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is quite impressed with the Bills' recent surge.

"Since we last played Buffalo (in Week 8), they've played extremely well, playing as well as any team in the league," Belichick said in his press conference Wednesday. "They've really done a good job in all three phases of the game."

Defense has been the strength of the Bills over the last few years, but the offense has really risen to a higher level in 2020. It's become one of the league's top units and ranks sixth in total yards, fifth in points scored per game and second in passing yards. 

The offseason trade to acquire star wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings has paid huge dividends. The veteran wideout's 1,314 receiving yards are the third-most in the league. 

"Offensively they are very impressive. They're well-balanced," Belichick said. "(Stefon) Diggs is having a great year, (Cole) Beasley's having a great year. (Gabriel) Davis has stepped in and played well. The running backs, (Zack) Moss and (Devin) Singletary have both been productive. (Josh) Allen has been productive, they've scored a lot of points and have been good in the red area. They move the ball and get it in the end zone. They're a very explosive team, averaging 35 points per game the last couple months."

 
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Allen's made a jump into the top tier of NFL quarterbacks this season. He's already set career highs with a 68.7 completion percentage, 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns -- 10 more than he threw last season. Allen is a legitimate MVP candidate and the biggest reason why Buffalo has vaulted from a playoff-caliber team to one of the AFC's best.

"Like most players, as they gain experience and confidence and get more familiar with the system and the defenses that they see, they improve. He's done that," Belichick said of Allen. 

"Again, it's a well-balanced team. They have a lot of good players at a lot of positions. They utilize them in multiple ways, and they're hard to defend. He's done a good job of orchestrating it and being a key playmaker in the offense."

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The Bills still have something to play for on Monday despite already wrapping up the division title. They enter Week 16 as the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff race, but only because of a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Securing the No. 2 seed is important for the Bills because it guarantees they wouldn't have to face the Kansas City Chiefs until the AFC Championship Game.

So, the Patriots should expect to play a motivated Bills team at Gillette Stadium in the final "Monday Night Football" game of the season.