Home / 2019-20 Game of the Week

Week four in the NFL is shaping up to be a great one. Matchups between the Eagles/Packers and Saints/Cowboys are at the top of the marquee. But for our Finish Line Game of the Week we’re heading to Buffalo where a pair of unbeaten divisional foes are set for battle. The New England Patriots are who we thought they were. That well-oiled machine has barely been challenged in their first three games. The Buffalo Bills on the other hand have shocked the masses. Their defense has led them to victory in each of their first three matchups this season. The stage is now set for an interesting matchup between a stalwart and a rising power.

Bills & Patriots

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

All-time Matchup: 74-43-1 New England Patriots

Last Five Results

  • Regular Season 12/23/18 (24-12 Patriots)
  • Regular Season 10/29/18 (25-6 Patriots)
  • Regular Season 12/24/17 (37-16 Patriots)
  • Regular Season 12/03/17 (23-3 Patriots)
  • Regular Season 10/30/16 (41-25 Patriots)

Patriots X-Factors

  • Tom Brady (quarterback)
  • Jamie Collins (linebacker)
  • Devin McCourty (safety)

Bills X-Factors

  • Josh Allen (quarterback)
  • TreDavious White (cornerback)
  • Jordan Poyer (safety)

 

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It’s no secret the Bills (and the whole AFC East) have struggled against the Patriots in the last two decades. Just once since 2002 has a team not named the Patriots won the AFC East. That was the Miami Dolphins in 2008 and they only won because Tom Brady tore his ACL in week one that year. If you’re looking for the last Bills win against the Pats you’d have to go all the way back to 2016. They won rather impressively, 16-0 in fact. But rookie Jacoby Brissett started that game in place of Brady who was serving a four-game suspension for Deflategate. The Bills have only outclassed Brady twice since 2003. The last of which being a 17-9 victory in 2014. Brady has more wins against the Bills than any other franchise in his career. 

 

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Honestly after a deeper dive I’m questioning the decision to select this as our game of the week. But this year should be a little different. The Bills not only have a stifling defense but they’ve got a quarterback with some real potential, Josh Allen. Don’t believe me? Just ask Patriots head coach Bill Belichick who labeled Allen as “problem” for the Pats. “He can pretty much do everything with the ball in his hands. He’s got a tremendous arm. So every spot on the field is available,” said Belichick during his conference call with Buffalo reporters. “He’s athletic, can extend plays, and he can run with the ball. He can make yards with the ball in his hand and he’s hard to tackle in the pocket.” High praise from the greatest man to ever put on a cutoff hoodie.

 

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On the flip side of the ball, the Bills have the fifth best total defense in the league thus far. They only allow an average 299.7 yards per game this year. They’re also fifth in scoring defense. Teams have only managed to score an average of 15.7 points per game so far. Forcing opponents into mistakes has been the real strength of the Bills defense this year. They average 2.3 takeaways per game (second in the NFL), recording four last week. As great as he’s been Brady has been a little turnover prone against the Bills in the past. In their last four meetings he thrown a total of four interceptions. For the Bills to have their best shot at beating New England they must force Brady and that Pats offense to give the ball away.

 

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The Patriots aren’t going to just roll over though. As good as the Bills defense has been this year, the Pats have been better across the board. The Patriots are number one in total defense, passing defense and rushing defense. In all of those categories second place isn’t particularly close either. As if that isn’t scary enough, the Patriots defense has not allowed an offensive touchdown this year. They’re the first defense to not surrender a touchdown through three games since 1970. For as much promise and skill that Allen’s showed at quarterback for the Bills this year, Brady has been better. With Brady at the helm, the Pats offense is fifth in total offense and second in passing offense. As much as things change, they stay the same. This week you’ve got a tremendous matchup between  two team that are firing on all cylinders. Buckle up and enjoy the show.

After two weeks in the NFL, a few storylines have dominated headlines. Players demanding trades (Ramsey, Fitzpatrick, Alonso), quarterbacks dropping like flies (Rothlisberger, Brees, Foles) and a pair of unconventional players staking an early claim to the MVP award, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Those two quarterbacks will take center stage this Sunday in our week three Finish Line Game of the Week.

Chiefs & Ravens

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

All-time Matchup: 5-4 Kansas City Chiefs

Last Five Results

  • Regular Season 12/09/18 (27-24 OT Chiefs)
  • Regular Season 12/20/15 (34-14 Chiefs)
  • Regular Season 10/07/12 (9-6 Ravens)
  • Regular Season 09/13/09 (38-24 Ravens)
  • Regular Season 12/10/06 (20-10 Ravens)

Ravens X-Factors

  • Lamar Jackson (quarterback)
  • Mark Ingram (running back)
  • Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown (wide receiver)

Chiefs X-Factors

  • Patrick Mahomes (quarterback)
  • Travis Kelce (tight end)
  • Sammy Watkins (wide receiver)

 

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Both of these teams come into this game with 2-0 records. The Chiefs have made easy work of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, while the Ravens have throttled the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals to start the year. The early dominance of these teams is a direct reflection of the exceptional of their guys under center. Mahomes has followed his MVP campaign with even gaudier numbers. Thus far, he’s thrown for 821 yards, 7 touchdowns with a 71.4 completion percentage. For his efforts, Jackson has been equally impressive. Throwing for 596 yards, 7 touchdowns on a 71.9 completion percentage. Lamar’s also added 126 yards on the ground. This head-to-head matchup should boil down to Mahomes’ arm versus Jackson’s legs. For Jackson this game represents a chance at retribution. His only regular season loss as a starting quarterback came last at the hands of Mahomes and the Chiefs. The game ended on a 35-yard field goal from Harrison Butker. That chance at redemption will certainly be on the mind of Jackson.

 

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Past those two quarterbacks, both sides have some real playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. We all know about the Chiefs receiving corps, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce are two of the best at their positions and Demarcus Robinson had a hell of a game (6 receptions, 172 yards, 2 touchdowns) against the Raiders last week. The Ravens have found success with new additions Mark Ingram and Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown. Second-year tight end Mark Andrews has proved to be an excellent safety net for Lamar as well. With all these weapons on the field, I think it’s safe to expect a shootout.

Over the last three years, the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have built one of the NFL’s biggest rivalries. Trading wins in their last four meetings [over that three year span], the two sides have proved to be pretty evenly matched. With their last meeting being the infamous NFC Championship “No-Call” game, tension should be high for this upcoming matchup. Thus the stage is set for our week two Finish Line Game of the Week.

Saints & Rams

New Orleans vs. Los Angeles (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

All-time Matchup: 42-34 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams

Last Five Results

  • NFC Championship 01/20/19 (26-23 Rams)
  • Regular Season 11/04/18 (45-35 Saints)
  • Regular Season 11/26/17 (26-20 Rams)
  • Regular Season 11/27/16 (49-21 Saints)
  • Regular Season 12/15/13 (27-16 Rams)

Saints X-Factors

  • Alvin Kamara (running back)
  • Eli Apple/P.J. Williams (cornerbacks)
  • Taysom Hill (quarterback/h-back/special teams ace)

Rams X-Factors

  • Cory Littleton (inside linebacker)
  • Marcus Peters (cornerback)
  • Cooper Kupp (wide receiver)

 

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Both sides are coming into this game fresh off week one wins. The Rams handled the Carolina Panthers, while the Saints beat the Houston Texans in dramatic fashion on Monday Night Football. One would think that coming into this game on a short week puts the Saints at an immediate disadvantage. But with the high stakes of this game you have to figure that Sean Payton will have the Saints ready to go. Last week, the Rams struggled to handle running back Christian McCaffrey (209 yards from scrimmage). Which should bode well for Alvin Kamara, who brings an eerily similar skillset to the table. Whether he’s in the backfield or lined up in the slot, Kamara will present a challenge for the Rams front seven. Past this battle, both teams will need to look for ways to integrate role players into their respective offenses. For the Saints that means getting Ted Ginn Jr., Jared Cook and Taysom Hill involved to take some pressure off of Michael Thomas. While the Rams will need to get Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds and Cooper Kupp to lighten the loads of Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley.

 

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The all-time matchup between the sides stands at 42-34 with the Rams franchise in the lead. Though as mentioned before things have been quite evenly matched over the last three years. League Defensive MVP and Rams lineman, Aaron Donald said that he expects “a dogfight” this Sunday.

“We’ve been playing them every season. We know what type of game it’s going to be. It’s usually a physical game. It’s a game with a lot of back-and-forth — usually a good game, a close game. That’s what we expect, we expect a dog fight,” said Donald to Rams Wire. You can surely expect that mindset is the same in the Saints locker room. Buckle up everyone, we’ve got quite the game on our hands.

Steelers vs. Patriots

Can we all take a second to praise the return of football? It’s been a long nine months en route to bringing 11-on-11 back into our lives. This season is particularly special, given it’s the NFL’s 100th season. To give this special season its proper due, here at Finish Line we’re going to highlight a marquee game each week and ask for your opinions on said game. The matchup may have a special wrinkle/storyline, be a rivalry, or have implications in the standings. Either way we’re going to provide you with some background on the game and help keep you informed before you make a pick.

FNL Game of the Week

Pittsburgh vs. New England (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
All-time Matchup: 16-16
Last Five Results:

  • Regular Season 12/16/18 (17-10 Steelers)
  • Regular Season 12/17/17 (27-24 Patriots)
  • AFC Championship 1/22/17 (36-17 Patriots)
  • Regular Season 10/23/16 (27-16 Patriots)
  • Regular Season 9/10/15 (28-21 Patriots)

Patriots X-Factors

  • Sony Michel (running back)
  • James White (running back)
  • Stephon Gilmore (cornerback)

Steelers X-Factors

  • T.J. Watt (outside linebacker)
  • Cameron Heyward (defensive end)
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster (wide receiver)

 

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For our first game of the week we’re heading to Foxborough, MA and taking a look at the matchup between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coming into this season, expectations for both sides are high. While the game will feature future Hall of Fame quarterback’s Tom Brady and Ben Rothlisberger, the game should come down to Pittsburgh’s revamped defense and New England’s new look offense. As both of those units are working multiple new starters into the fold. The Steelers added cornerback Steven Nelson, linebacker Mark Barron and drafted linebacker Devin Bush. While the Patriots are using first-time starters Isaiah Wynn and Joe Thuney on the offensive line. In addition to having to replace Rob Gronkowski with Matt LaCosse at the tight end position. Whichever of those sides can best integrate those new players should have an edge in the matchup.

 

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All-time, the two franchises are tied at 16 wins apiece against one another. Though, the matchup heavily favors the Patriots since Brady took reins of the Patriots offense in 2001 (he’s 8-3 against Pittsburgh). During his week 1 presser, via Steelers’ official Twitter, Mike Tomlin said this of Brady: “he’s very difficult to trick, and even if you do, it won’t happen over an extended period of time or over the course of a football game.” Less concerned with tricking Brady, the Steelers head coach continued to explain that he was more concerned with limiting mistakes that teams commonly face in week 1. Easier said than done, especially when facing the defending champs. In fact, in season openers following Super Bowl wins, the Patriots are 5-1 all time.