CAPACCIO: Patriots at Bills on MNF highlights otherwise routine schedule

The Bills host Monday Night Football for the first time since 2008

Sal Capaccio
April 19, 2018 - 8:36 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

For the most part, the Buffalo Bills’ 2018 schedule is anything but sexy. It consists of games played mainly on Sunday at 1 p.m., which is exactly how most coaches prefer it. They love to keep things as routine as possible.

But if there is one particular highlight that jumps off the page immediately, it’s Week 8, October 29. For the first time in a decade, the Bills will host a Monday Night Football game at New Era Field. And to make that even more attractive to the fanbase, it’s against the hated New England Patriots and arch-nemesis Tom Brady. This is assuming Brady plays this season, of course. He’s yet to officially commit, but no one really seems to think he won’t be suiting up to, yet again, defend the Patriots' AFC title.

The pre-Halloween game will be the 16th time the Bills have hosted a Monday Night Football game, not counting the 2014 game in Detroit when they were the home team for a game that was moved from a Sunday due to a snow storm. The Bills are 8-7 all-time at home on Monday night. However, their last two Monday Night Football games were heartbreaking losses to the Cleveland Browns in 2008 and Dallas Cowboys in 2007. The Bills blew late fourth-quarter leads in both games, only to fall on last-second field goals.

The last time the Bills hosted the Patriots in primetime was a game that was flexed into Sunday Night after being originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon in November of 2007. The Patriots steamrolled the Bills 56-10 on their way to an undefeated regular season.

Most players love playing on primetime on national TV in front of their peers, and a lot of fans love seeing their team in that spot, as well. It’s not often Bills fans get to see their team at home in that situation, especially a Sunday or Monday night. At least they’ll have that chance one time this year, and for the first time since the Bills lost 37-31 to the New York Jets on Thursday night in Week 2 of 2016.

And who knows? At that time of year, the game might mean something to both clubs. The Patriots, even through their almost two-decades dynasty of dominating the conference, have a history of starting off fairly average, but then hitting their stride right around November. If Sean McDermott’s team plays decent football through the first seven weeks, the Bills will get them in a hostile New Era Field hoping the result has playoff implications at the end of the season.

That game against the Patriots will be the Bills’ first divisional contest of 2018. Once again, those AFC East games all fall late in the season. Last year, after opening with the Jets, the Bills didn’t play another team in their own division until they traveled to the Jets in Week 9. Then they packed the remaining three contests into four weeks in December, playing the Patriots and Dolphins twice in that span. This year, it’s the Patriots in Week 8, then the remaining five AFC East games in the last seven games.

If there’s one part of the schedule I wish had gone differently, it’s having five of the first seven games on the road. Not because of any sort of competitive disadvantage (because it evens out with the home games near the end) but because Orchard Park is a beautiful place to be in September, and looks amazing on television on late summer and early autumn afternoons, and we only get the chance to have two afternoon games there through the entire months of September and October. 

But if you’re looking for “weather advantage: Bills,” look no further than the last six weeks, which features two teams from Florida (Jaguars and Dolphins) and a dome team (Lions) coming to Buffalo after Thanksgiving. If the Bills are in the playoff hunt once again, not many people are really going to remember those beautiful Western New York autumn afternoon games we missed out on.

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