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The Saturday Night Massacre

The Bills vaporized the Patriots with a masterful performance that upended our understanding of this postseason

New England Patriots Vs. Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Josh Allen got some unsolicited advice this week on dealing with the frigid temperatures in Buffalo.

“Take some Viagra before the game, baby,” former Jets linebacker Bart Scott said on ESPN this week. “That’ll get that circulation going right.”

Allen did not take Scott’s advice (we think). But after four hours on Saturday, it was the New England Patriots who needed to call a doctor. The Buffalo Bills delivered their most definitive victory in the 21st century on Saturday, atomizing the Patriots 47-17. In the process, Buffalo reordered our basic understanding of this postseason just two games in.

All you need to know to understand the extent of Buffalo’s dominance is to look at the 10 drives that opened the game.

  1. Buffalo drives 70 yards for a touchdown
  2. New England throws an interception
  3. Buffalo drives 80 yards for a touchdown
  4. New England goes three-and-out, punts
  5. Buffalo drives 81 yards for a touchdown
  6. New England punts
  7. Buffalo drives 89 yards for a touchdown
  8. New England kicks a field goal
  9. New England throws an interception
  10. Buffalo drives 58 yards for a touchdown

Buffalo became the first team to score a touchdown on its first five drives in the 21st century, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The Bills then went and scored touchdowns on their next two drives to make it seven straight touchdowns to start the game (they hit the over/under for the game by themselves). The Bills are the first NFL team ever to go an entire game without punting, kicking a field goal, or turning the ball over, per Chase Stuart at Football Perspective. They literally just scored touchdowns until they could kneel to end the game. Buffalo was up 20-0 a third of the way through the game, and functionally ended it with a 27-3 halftime lead. And without Tom Brady, it’s clear the Patriots are a long way from overcoming any 28-3 deficits.

We do not need to linger on this beatdown. Instead, we can skip right to what this beatdown means: the rest of the AFC is in trouble, and the Bills might become the Super Bowl betting favorites as soon as tomorrow. Despite an inconsistent regular season, these Bills are bigger and badder than last year.

Their running game is far better than it was a year ago. Running back Devin Singletary has taken over the backfield over the past month and, well, run with it. Singletary has had the best three-game stretch of his career over the past three weeks, including a career-high 110 rushing yards in Week 17. But the real key to this team’s rushing is Allen, who had six carries for 66 yards, including a 26-yard scramble on the first drive that blew the game open. While the Bills have been resistant to let Allen lower his shoulder in the regular season, this team is at its best with Allen as its goal-line back. With this kind of rushing ability to complement its elite passing attack, there is no offense in the playoffs—not Kansas City, not Green Bay—that looks scarier than these Bills.

And to think that the defense might be the strength of this team. The no. 1 rated defense by Football Outsiders DVOA dominated on Saturday and seems like the ideal pass defense to stop any teams struggling to catch up to the Bills the moment Buffalo takes a lead. This interception by Bills safety Micah Hyde was positively divine.

Like any true Super Bowl contender, the Bills are one of the healthiest teams left in the postseason. While they’ve lost All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White to a torn ACL, that’s the only real player of note this Bills team is missing. That is a huge advantage at a time when plenty of teams are dealing with stars who are either missing games or playing hurt. This iteration of the Bills looks like it has no weaknesses: an elite passing game with six high-level options in Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, and tight end Dawson Knox; a blossoming running game with Singletary and Allen, who is a far more physical runner than the more elusive Kyler Murray, and much faster than Patrick Mahomes; a defense perhaps even better suited to stop offenses like Kansas City’s than last year. Simply put, this team has no weaknesses beyond a kicking unit that struggled in the wind, missing two PATs and doinking a third that went in after going 51-for-51 on extra points in the regular season.

Shortly after the Patriots scored their first (meaningless) touchdown of the game, receiver Kendrick Bourne thought there was a flag on the field. It was not a flag. It was—well, wait a second. My mom will probably read this story. Mom, if you’re reading this, please stop reading. Just close out the tab. Thank you.

It was a dildo. Someone threw a dildo on the field (this is becoming a tradition in Buffalo). It’s just further proof that the Bills don’t shrivel in the cold.