With a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their first Sunday Night Football appearance since 2007, the Buffalo Bills clinched both a playoff berth and their best record since 1999. But in another nationally televised game against the New England Patriots on Saturday, the Bills have a shot to achieve something even bigger.
A win on the road over New England sets up a scenario that could see the Bills in line not only to win their first AFC East division title since 1995 but put an end to New England's extraordinary run of 10 consecutive division titles. No other NFL team has won more than seven division titles in a row and that was the Los Angeles Rams, from 1973 to 1979.
Yet, according to a Rochester Democrat and Chronicle analysis, there is exactly one scenario in which the Bills can snap the Patriots' record streak — and the first step is a win in the Saturday game.
If the Bills win on Saturday, they must also defeat the New York Jets at home in Week 17 — and the Patriots must lose at home to the Miami Dolphins. That's something that has not happened since 2008 — in a game with quarterback Matt Cassel filling in for the Pats' future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who missed the season with a knee injury.
The NFL Network, which will also televise the Saturday Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots game, provides a preview of the matchup in the video below.Oddsmakers, however, are not affording the Bills a great chance to win the game, according to USA Today. Brady and the Patriots have been installed as 6 1/2-point favorites at Gillette Stadium, where New England had won 21 straight games until a Week 14, 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
A win for New England, however, clinches the AFC East title for the 11th straight season. Even with a Week 17 win for Buffalo and loss for the Patriots, the tiebreaker would go to New England with a superior record against common opponents — 11-2 for the Patriots under that scenario, 9-3 for the Bills.
A win for the Patriots also gives them another season with at least 12 victories, making a total of 12 for the franchise since the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL, and tying the San Francisco 49ers for most 12-win seasons in that time period, according to Patriots.com.
The Patriots have won six straight over Buffalo going back to 2016 and have won 75 of the 119 games ever played between the two franchises. Since Bill Belichick took over as Patriots head coach in the 2000 season, his Patriots have defeated the Bills in 34 of 39 meetings.