Graphic by David Jakacky

With the NFL season winding down, every game matters for the teams still fighting for a playoff spot. There is no bigger matchup than this Monday night when the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots face off.

The Patriots are coming in hot, riding a six game win streak that’s put them in the second seed in the AFC. They have not played any great teams during this stretch; the best team they have beaten is the Los Angeles Chargers on Halloween.

The Bills have struggled the last few weeks, losing in embarrassing fashion 9-6 against the two-win Jacksonville Jaguars, and then the Colts defeated them 41-15.

The Bills quarterback Josh Allen has had a very good season so far this year. While he might have cooled off since the beginning of the year, he has still completed 66.8% of his passes for 3,071 yards and 25 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He has had issues with turnovers in the last few weeks and needs to cut that down in order for the Bills to win this week.

The Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has continued his very solid rookie season with another strong performance against the Tennessee Titans. Coming into this game, he has completed 70.3% of his passes for 2,850 yards and 16 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He has yet to put up eye popping numbers, but he has stayed surprisingly consistent for a rookie. If he continues this way and does not turn the ball over, New England’s offense should do well this week.

Devin Singletary leads the Bills in rushing 459 yards on 98 attempts for two touchdowns. Veteran Matt Brieda has started to show some good signs the last few weeks with Zack Moss not playing, and he has done well with 109 yards on just 21 carries and one touchdown. With the Patriots having issues stopping the run this year, the Bills could look for more from their running backs, but it is hard to see anyone having a big game.

The Patriots gained a big part of their offense back two weeks ago when leading rusher Damien Harris returned. He has by far been the top running back on the team with 154 carries for 643 yards and 8 touchdowns. With the Bills having the fourth best run defense, Harris will have his work cut out for him.

Stefon Diggs leads the Bills in receiving with 67 catches for 847 yards and seven touchdowns. Veteran Cole Beasley is second on the team with 62 catches for 530 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Dawson Knox has had a solid season as well, catching 31 passes for 315 yards and seven touchdowns. The matchup of Diggs and cornerback J.C. Jackson is one to keep an eye out for this week.

Jakobi Meyers leads the Patriots in receiving with 59 receptions for 620 yards and one touchdown. Kendrick Bourne is second on the team with 42 receptions for 623 yards and five touchdowns. With the Bills secondary being one of the best in football, the Patriots will need big games from both receivers.

The Bills defensively have been one of the best teams this year. Outside of their loss to the Colts, only one team has scored over 30 points on them all season. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds leads the team with 63 tackles, defensive end Mario Addison leads the team with four sacks and safety Jordan Poyer leads the team with five interceptions.

Similarly to the Bills, the Patriots also have one of the top defenses in the league with the group only giving up 20 points once in the last six weeks. Safety Kyle Dugger leads the team with 80 tackles, Matthew Judon is third in the league with 11.5 sacks and cornerback J.C. Jackson is continuing his ballhawking skills and is second in the NFL with seven interceptions.

This game is extremely important for both sides as they both fight for the lead in the AFC East, which the Patriots currently have by half a game. They are also set to play each other one more time this season in three weeks. With the Patriots currently the second seed and the Bills the sixth, these two games could be the decider on where the teams wind up in the playoffs. Expect whichever quarterback that plays better to win this game, but with two great defences, it could go either way.