Patriots

How Patriots-Bills AFC Wild Card Playoff game will be first of its kind

Patriots

Just how long has it been since the Patriots and Buffalo Bills faced one another in the postseason?

For starters, the New England Patriots have never faced Buffalo -- just the Boston Patriots, who knocked off the Bills, 26-8, in the divisional round of the American Football League playoffs in 1963. 

But that's all about to change, as the sixth-seeded Patriots (10-7) and third-seeded Bills (11-6) will meet at Highmark Stadium on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on CBS in the first postseason matchup between the teams as NFL franchises.

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New England and Buffalo have met 115 times since that last postseason meeting, with the Patriots holding a 72-43 edge -- including 36-8 since Bill Belichick took over in 2000. But the Bills have won three of four since Tom Brady's departure, including a 33-21 win at Gillette Stadium in Week 16 this season which gave them control of the AFC East.

The Patriots did beat the Bills in western New York this season, 14-10 in Week 13, a game in which quarterback Mac Jones threw just three passes.

Buffalo closed out its season with a 27-10 win over the New York Jets, becoming the first team other than the Patriots to win consecutive AFC East division titles since the Bills themselves did it in four straight seasons from 1988-91.

It will be the first time New England has faced an AFC East foe in the postseason since 2010, when the New York Jets stunned the top-seeded Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the divisional round. Belichick is 1-1 against AFC East opponents in the postseason, having defeated the Jets in the 2006 wild-card round.

 

The Bills, along with the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, are the four AFC teams Belichick is yet to face in the postseason as coach in New England. 

It's also the first time that Belichick will be coaching the Patriots as a wild-card entrant; while New England has played on wild-card weekend four times under Belichick, including its last postseason trip in 2019, it did so as division winner. The last time the Patriots made the playoffs as a wild-card team was in 1998, when Pete Carroll was coach and Scott Zolak filled in for an injured Drew Bledsoe in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Looking ahead to the Bills, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has thrown a career-high 15 interceptions this season, while both his completion percentage and quarterback rating dipped considerably from his numbers a season ago. However, he threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions over two games against the Patriots this season.

The Bills are in the postseason for the third straight season and fourth time in the last five after missing the playoffs 17 straight seasons from 2000 until 2017. Buffalo has never won a Super Bowl, having lost four straight from 1990-93, though it did rebound from its 1963 postseason loss to the Patriots to win a pair of AFL championships.