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Here's who won our Patriots vs. Bills AFC Wild Card playoff game simulation

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The New England Patriots are back in the NFL playoffs, and in the AFC Wild Card Weekend simulation from our friends at Strat-O-Matic, they emerge with an upset win over the rival Buffalo Bills on the road.

The score was tied at three entering the second quarter, and that's when the Patriots blew the game open.

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Rookie quarterback Mac Jones tossed the first of his three touchdown passes early in the second quarter to give New England a 10-3 advantage. The Patriots never trailed again and closed the first half with three consecutive touchdown drives to take a 24-10 lead into the break.

The Bills did score 10 unanswered points in the second half and closed to within 24-20 with 10:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Patriots responded with a nearly six-minute drive that resulted in a field goal to go up 27-20 with 4:42 left on the clock.

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New England's defense held on late to secure the victory -- the team's first in the postseason since Super Bowl LIII.

Check out an in-depth breakdown of our Wild Card Weekend simulation, including results from around the league ...

Quarterback Breakdown

Mac Jones was fantastic in his first career NFL playoff game, outplaying Bills quarterback Josh Allen and leading his team to victory.

The University of Alabama product completed 16 of 24 pass attempts for 203 yards with three touchdown passes. Perhaps most importantly, Jones did not commit a single turnover, which has been an issue for him of late. He had five interceptions over the last four regular season games.

 

Jones threw for three touchdowns with zero interceptions twice in the regular season -- Week 10 versus the Cleveland Browns and Week 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Allen struggled with only one passing touchdown and two interceptions. It was a massive drop in performance compared to Allen's heroics in the Bills' 33-21 road win over the Patriots in Week 16. The Patriots couldn't slow down Allen through the air or on the ground during that loss, but Bill Belichick's defense made the necessary adjustments to earn a different outcome Saturday night.

The defeat dropped Allen's playoff record to 2-3. 

Top performers

The run game was once again pivotal to a Patriots victory over the Bills. Damien Harris reached the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this season, finishing with a team-leading 112 (5.9 per carry). Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson also was effective, totaling 67 yards on just 11 carries. 

Veteran wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tallied three receptions, including a 10-yard touchdown from Jones with 3:03 left in the first half that put New England up 24-10. Tight end Hunter Henry led the Patriots with 54 receiving yards on three catches. 

Wild card results

Here's a look at the scores of the other five Wild Card Round games in the AFC and NFC from our simulation.

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers easily defeated the Philadelphia Eagles at home. Dak Prescott also tossed three touchdowns to lead the Dallas Cowboys to their first playoff win since 2018. The Los Angeles Rams, with three rushing touchdowns, defeated the Arizona Cardinals in an NFC West matchup.

The Chiefs offense continued to dominate with a 40-16 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's final game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns.

The Raiders earned their first postseason victory since the 2002 AFC Championship Game with a 21-17 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals on the road. Running back Josh Jacobs led the way for Las Vegas with 188 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

These results set up some exciting matchups in the Divisional Round of the playoffs:

AFC

  • No. 6 Patriots at No. 1 Titans
  • No. 5 Raiders at No. 2 Chiefs

NFC

  • No. 4 Rams at No. 1 Packers
  • No. 3 Cowboys at No. 2 Buccaneers

All four of these matchups happened during the regular season, including the Patriots beating the Titans 36-13 at home in Week 12. This time they'll meet in Tennessee.

The Packers also defeated the Rams earlier this year, and the Buccaneers beat the Cowboys in the first game of the season. The Chiefs crushed the Raiders twice by a combined score of 89-23.