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This sim of Monday's Pats-Bills game predicts a surprising result originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
On its face, Monday's matchup with the Buffalo Bills looks like the New England Patriots' toughest challenge yet: a primetime game in a hostile environment against a division rival hellbent on regaining the AFC East lead.
But the Patriots are also the hottest team in football, and one prediction model doesn't see the Bills slowing them down in Week 13.
Our partners at Strat-O-Matic -- who at this point five weeks ago nearly predicted the exact post-week 12 records for both New England and Buffalo -- ran a simulation of Monday night's game in Buffalo, and Patriots fans will be pleased with the result.
Strat-O-Matic forecasts a 33-13 Patriots rout, with the Patriots jumping out to a 13-point lead in the first half and outscoring the Bills 20-3 down the stretch. The convincing win moves New England to 9-4 and drops Buffalo to 7-5, giving Bill Belichick's club a 1.5-game cushion in the division entering its bye week.
Here's how things played out in this simulation.
Mac Jones easily wins QB battle
Josh Allen might be the more talented quarterback, but he looked like the rookie in this simulation.
Allen completes just 43.8% of his passes (14 for 32) for 157 yards and throws three interceptions to one touchdown pass to finish with a 30.3 passer rating, the second-worst of his career. Allen adds 67 rushing yards on five carries, but his mistakes prove costly.
NBC Sports Boston Illustration
Meanwhile, Jones continues to do his thing. While his completion percentage (62.5%; 25 for 40) is well below his season average, the 23-year-old finishes with 295 passing yards, two touchdown passes and no turnovers, good for a 101.6 passer rating.
Jones airs it out in this one despite the inclement weather, hitting Nelson Agholor for a 63-yard completion and finding Kendrick Bourne for 28-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Patriots wide receivers, defense step up
Bourne rides the momentum from his two-touchdown game against the Tennessee Titans with two more scores in Buffalo: the aforementioned 28-yarder and a 7-yard score late in the third quarter that puts New England up 27-10.
Bourne finishes with five catches for 65 yards, while Jakobi Meyers tallies six catches for 38 yards and Agholor finishes with 107 yards thanks to his 63-yard reception. That wide receiver trio alone accounts for 220 of Jones' 295 passing yards.
NBC Sports Boston Illustration
The Patriots' strong effort in the passing game helps make up for a relatively quiet day on the ground: Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson combine for 99 yards on 20 carries, with Stevenson scoring a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
On the other end, the defense continues to play lights-out, menacing Allen with three interceptions and two sacks. J.C. Jackson and the secondary also keep Stefon Diggs relatively in check, limiting the Bills' star wide receiver to four catches for 39 yards and a score.
Kicker Nick Folk also deserves a shout-out for going 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and making all three of his PATs in this statement Patriots win.