Josh Allen is going to have to be on his (likely frozen) toes Saturday night, but that’s nothing new for the Bills quarterback.
Allen and the rest of his Buffalo team will welcome the New England Patriots to Orchard Park for an AFC East rubber match in the wild-card round. The weather has dominated the conversation for much of the week, with Allen even admitting poor circulation in his feet is something he’ll have to prepare for going into Saturday night where game-time temperature should be right around 10 degrees at kickoff.
In addition to those efforts, though, Allen is tasked with another frosty challenge, with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looking to ice out the Bills’ star quarterback. Belichick has had varying levels of success in that regard since Allen entered the league. In their last meeting, though, Allen played one of the best games of his young career in the Bills’ Week 16 win at Gillette Stadium.
And as he gets set for a third tangle with Belichick in the last five weeks, Allen explained earlier this week what makes preparing so difficult.
“You always gotta adjust for him,” Allen told reporters on a call Tuesday. “The second you start thinking it’s a sure thing, that’s when it gets the rug swept (out from) under your feet and you’re thinking the wrong coverage and throwing the ball to a backside corner you didn’t think was there. You gotta make sure you see everything before the snap and just reassure it after the snap. If it’s something that you thought was different, it’s getting out of it and trying to find the right person to throw the ball to and not forcing a bad decision to make it worse.”
That sort of Roddy Piper logic unsurprisingly flummoxed Allen early in his career. The Bills lost his first three starts versus New England, and Allen had a woeful 56.4 passer rating with three touchdowns, five interceptions and eight sacks in those three contests. Since then, though, he (and the Bills) have made some of the necessary adjustments. Allen’s development and maturity play a role, too, with the Bills winning three of four matchups dating back to last season while Allen registered a 101.7 passer rating while also picking up 11 first downs on the ground. Buffalo is 3-1 in those four games.
Given how the Patriots have reloaded on defense, Allen isn’t taking that recent success for granted.
“I think it’s a combination of 1) Coach Belichick and 2) the players they have on that defense,” he added. “The smart, savvy guys — the (Devin) McCourtys, the (Kyle) Van Noys, (Jamie) Collins — I could go on and on about how many good players they have and how smart they are, how many different positions they can play.
“As a football fan, it’s fun to watch, and it’s a tough thing to go against as a quarterback.”
Whether Allen can ace Belichick’s latest test should go a long way in deciding Saturday night’s contest.