ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The next time the Bills play on the road, it'll either be in the playoffs, or it'll be next season. With a win against Atlanta and some help, Buffalo can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. The Falcons are 7-8 on the year and still in the hunt in the NFC, as well.
With two games left on their schedule the Bills control their own destiny. If the Bills can finish the season with wins against the Falcons and the Jets, they’ll be crowned AFC East champs for the second consecutive season. Regardless of what happens this weekend, the AFC East won’t be won until the final week of the regular season.
Like the Bills, the Falcons are also still fighting for their playoff hopes, although their path to the postseason is much more complicated. For the Falcons, they need to win their final two games and have multiple teams ahead of them in the standings lose multiple games. Atlanta has a 4-7 conference record, which doesn’t bode well for any tiebreaker scenarios.
As for the matchup itself, the Bills are massive favorites. At most casinos and betting websites the Bills are favored by more than two touchdowns.
Matt Ryan is still a solid quarterback and can do some damage. Quite frankly, he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks the Bills have faced this year. His favorite targets are rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver/running back Cordarrelle Patterson. All three players lose a threat to the Bills but the Falcons struggles on the offensive line have held them back all season. Despite their weapons on offense, Atlanta is averaging just 18.5 points per game this season. For context, the Bills are averaging 28.5 points per game.
On defense, the Falcons are even worse. Atlanta is allowing their opponents to score nearly 27 points per game. If the Bills can continue scoring at the pace they’ve been since the second half of the Bucs game, this game could get away from the Falcons and put them into too deep of a hole to climb out of.Atlanta isn’t the worst team the Bills have faced this season but a dome team coming to Orchard Park in January doesn’t bode well for the visitors.
Bills: 29, Falcons: 17
Season record: 10-5
With two weeks in the regular season, the Bills are playing for their fourth playoff appearance since 2017. It hasn't been the prettiest year, but the Bills have found a way back into the AFC East driver's seat and as long as they take care of business, they'll be playing postseason football inside Highmark Stadium in a few weeks.
The Falcons aren't the worst team in the league [7-9] and their roster boasts talent. However, the Bills are a more complete football team on both sides of the ball and that's what's going to matter in this game.
Cordarrelle Peterson and Kyle Pitts will cause problems at points in this one, I don't expect both to be shut down completely, but those two can't match the Bills offense who has far too many weapons for this Falcons defense to keep up with. They've become a unit, even more so in recent weeks, where any of the four targets on the field at any given time can capitalize and be a mismatch, and that'll be a big issue.
This one favors the Bills and there's not many reasons they can't and shouldn't win this game.
Bills: 30, Falcons: 20
Season record: 11-4
The Bills seem like they've finally found, and settled into, an identity. Ever since the second half of the Buccaneers game, while it hasn't been perfect, both sides of the ball have finally settled in again. It's the complementary football that we got accustomed to in late September and early October.
For the Buffalo offense to keep things rolling, they have to get aggressive in the red zone. Only two teams in the NFL have given up more passing touchdowns than the Falcons; the Bills have already played both of them: Washington and Indianapolis.
Against the Washington Football team, Josh Allen amassed four touchdowns on the way to a 43-21 win. Against the Colts, Josh Allen had two passing touchdowns on a day where the Bills were two-for-two in the red zone. That just wasn't enough trips. Buffalo is set up to cash in this time around.
On the other side of the ball, the Bills' defense can't lose track of Cordarrelle Patterson. In a rediscovery and revival in Atlanta's offense, he's become one of the NFL's most dangerous, and versatile, weapons. Whether he's in the backfield, in the slot, or out wide, he's a threat.
Outside of Patterson and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, though, there isn't a whole lot that should scare the Bills. Buffalo is by far the better team. And they shouldn't have any problems proving it to stay in the division driver's seat.
Bills 31: Falcons: 13
Season Record: 10-5