It’s rare to see two NFL teams meet for the third time in one season.
But when that trilogy happens, the third installment is of great significance.
Teams within the same division face twice, taking turns hosting the games.
The third showdown happens during the playoffs, giving more weight to the game.
This year’s playoffs will have two pairings between division rivals.
In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals during Super Wild Card Weekend.
On the other hand, the AFC will feature the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.
Bills vs. Patriots III. It's on.
— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) January 10, 2022
While the Bills will enjoy home-field advantage for round three, the Patriots don’t mind playing on the road.
Likewise, the race between these two AFC East teams will make this game more exciting.
Seesaw Battle For The Division
The Bills had the early lead when they raced to a 4-2 record before their Week 7 bye.
At that point, the Patriots were at 2-4 after a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
However, their fates swapped as New England went on a seven-game winning streak while Buffalo went 3-4 to fall to 7-6.
With each team having four games left, it looked like the Patriots would reclaim the division.
Coming off their bye in Week 14 made them fresher for the home stretch.
Patriots – Bills
8:15 kickoff Saturday
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 11, 2022
Unfortunately, they lost three of their last four to drop to 10-7.
Winning against the Miami Dolphins in Week 18 could have given the Patriots a chance to host one playoff game.
But the Bills shook off their struggles and finished with a four-game winning streak, capped off by their 27-10 victory over the New York Jets.
That triumph settled Buffalo’s record to 11-6, giving them their second straight AFC East crown.
No Time For Complacency
The Bills Mafia will make much noise in supporting their team against the dreaded Patriots.
But for New England, Highmark Stadium feels like home because they’ve won there this year unconventionally.
It looked like Bill Belichick turned back the clock to the pre-Super Bowl era when he opted to run the ball 46 times for 222 yards.
Likewise, Mac Jones completed only two passes for 19 yards all game.
Patriots vs. Bills. Round 3. 🔥👀 pic.twitter.com/yCayTvmYP7
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) January 10, 2022
But despite the seemingly one-dimensional offense, the Patriots pulled off a 14-10 win in Buffalo.
The Bills returned the favor two weeks later with a 33-21 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Josh Allen torched the Patriots with 314 yards and three touchdowns, while Isaiah McKenzie finished with 125 receiving yards.
Those two games prove that these teams remain unfazed even if they’re on unfriendly confines.
Therefore, the Bills cannot slack off because Belichick will have the Patriots ready.
Three of Buffalo’s six regular-season losses happened at home.
An Epic Rubber Match
The trip to the Divisional Round will make both teams fight for every yard throughout the game.
But even the numbers dictate that Bills-Patriots III will be an intense battle.
Their average points per game are not far from each other, with Buffalo at 28.4 and New England at 27.2.
The Bills also have a slight edge in rushing yards per game, 129.9 to 126.5.
On defense, they are the top two teams in terms of passing yards allowed, with the Bills at 163 and the Patriots at 187.1 per game.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 10, 2022
Points allowed is also a close call at 17 points per game for Buffalo and 17.8 for New England.
Likewise, the Patriots have the edge in interceptions, 23-19.
If those numbers can paint a story, the Bills and the Patriots are in for a tough grind.
Their final chapter for the 2021 season will finally put the debate on who’s the better team to rest.