BUFFALO, N.Y. — Saturday's Wild Card playoff game against the Buffalo Bills marks the 10th time that Bill Belichick's Patriots have been an underdog in the playoffs all-time.
In those nine underdog playoff games, Bill Belichick and his Patriots are 6-3 and have won each of the last two.
Of course he had Tom Brady around for those. This year will be different.
New England is coming into the playoffs on a 1-3 stretch after they went on a 7-game win streak earlier in the season to briefly hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Mike D'Abate of the Locked On Patriots podcast joined Peter Bukowski on the Locked On Today podcast to preview Saturday's game in Buffalo.
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"Bill Belichick has a great deal of success in matters like this when you're taking a divisional opponent, an opponent that's familiar with, an opponent he's seen twice this year. And coming off a very difficult loss, all things seem to be favoring the New England Patriots in terms of a having a big bounce back game."
However, D'Abate said when looking at the team on the other side of the ball, it's not quite that simple.
"The Buffalo Bills are a stacked team in all three phases," D'Abate said. "They're one of the best defenses in the league, arguably the best defense in the league. Explosive and versatile offense that has the ability to make plays on all three levels. This is going to make for a classic in Orchard Park on Saturday night."
The first two matchups between these two teams were very different. In cold rain and wind in Buffalo the first time, the Patriots were able to get the win thanks to an incredible defensive effort and a solid run game. The Bills took Game 2 largely thanks to their passing attack.
"That's going to be the key for New England on offense is getting the run game going," D'Abate said. "That means heavy dosage of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. They've proved they can compliment each other's styles. Damien Harris is more than capable of running for finesse and power, Stevenson has the added ability to be able to break open up those lanes out on the outside and break for big yardage. If the Patriots do that early and keep the Bills defense on its heels, they definitely have a puncher's chance in this one."
D'Abate and Bukowski talked about how important rookie Patriots quarterback Mac Jones' composure will be in his first playoff game.
"You have to be able to lean on and trust your quarterback at times," D'Abate said. "One thing that really encouraged me about Mac Jones' performance on Sunday, albeit in the loss, in the second half he was 5-for-8 going for yardage more than 20 yards down the field. Jones proved that if they want to dial up some of these vertical routes, he has the capabilities to do it."
The Patriots will certainly need to be aggressive if they want to keep up with the Bills offense that put up over 30 points on them just three weeks ago.