NFL Monday preview: Patriots aren’t dead, as every Bills fan feared

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Titanic matchup likely to take place amid high winds, after storm blows through

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The rest of us might be surprised, even shocked. But for a livin’ fact, not one diehard Buffalo Bills fan ever was convinced the New England Patriots were dead, buried and paved over.


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Not one.

Sure, the Bills ended a two-decade run of pain last year by flipping fates with their AFC East arch-rivals — running away with the division title, just as the Patriots always did this century, while the Pats themselves lamely ended their season out of the playoffs, as the Bills typically did.

But while Bills fans gloated to the max following each of their victories over hated New England last year, few believed Bill Belichick’s bunch — even with Tom Brady long gone — would continue to suck much longer.

The pit in their stomach grew in March, with each of the Pats’ many league-rocking free-agent signings, then grew again in late April when the draft’s most accurate and best pure pocket passer, Mac Jones of Alabama, fell to the Pats at No. 15 overall.


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Not even when New England opened this season 1-4 while the Bills burst out to a 4-1 start did it seem to ever-skeptical Bills fans, what with all their Belichick scars since 2001, that the Patriots were truly no longer a threat.

And here we are now, in the first week of December, and the Patriots have won six straight to enter Monday night’s titanic clash against the Bills in Buffalo with an 8-4 record, a half-game up on the 7-4 Bills, who have lost three of their past six.

The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on TSN1/2/4 (via ESPN).

Even after last year’s Buffalo sweep, Belichick’s Patriots are 35-6 against Buffalo since his arrival in Foxborough in 2000.

This past week, the NFL’s most accomplished coach of the modern era, of course, wanted to talk about nothing but this particular game — the first of two between these probable playoff teams in a 20-day stretch. Buffalo’s return trip to New England is on Boxing Day.


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“Not a lot that’s happened in the past really means anything,” Belichick said Friday. “We’ve won some, we’ve lost games, whatever it is. Right now, this week, it’s the challenge of this team against Buffalo, in 2021. First time we’ve played them. (We must) put everything we have into this one, go up to Buffalo, and try to be as competitive as we can, against a good football team that’s well-coached.”

A factor that promises to be huge in this game is the weather. After two days of off-and-on rain as an unsettled weather mass moves through the Great Lakes region, the forecast for the Buffalo area Monday afternoon and evening calls for plummeting temperatures, snow showers and — most impactfully — strong winds.

Strong winds at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium means extreme winds by any other measure, as they tend to swirl and mess up passes and kicks as much as anywhere in the NFL.


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“It’s hard to really hang your hat on one of the predictions here,” Belichick said of the ugly weather forecast. “We practise in a variety of conditions — from the start of training camp to the end of the preseason, so whenever they come up, they come up.

“We haven’t seen a lot of snow this year, but I don’t know what we could do about that. We practise in wind. We practise on sunny days, cloudy days, windy days, calm days, hot days, cold days, we days, dry days. What’s it going to be? Whatever it is, it is. And if we haven’t done it, then we’ll adjust to it.”

Doesn’t sound worried.

Unlike Bills fans.

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