Patriots

Josh McDaniels: Patriots won’t dial back offense against Bills due to weather

Don't expect a repeat of that three-pass performance in Week 13 from Mac Jones this weekend, suggests Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Mac Jones Patriots
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones throws a pass under pressure from the Buffalo Bills pressure. (Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff)
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The weather will be far from balmy when the Patriots take on their rival Buffalo Bills on Saturday in Orchard Park, New York. Temperatures could be in the single digits at kickoff with a wind chill below zero — a “typical January football night in Buffalo,” according to WBZ meteorologist Jacob Wycoff.

The last time New England played the Bills on the road, Mac Jones only threw the ball three times in a 14-10 Patriots win. Then again, that contest featured 40-mph winds that made throwing the ball risky business, as well as snow whipping around the stadium.

If the weather’s just, well, cold on Saturday, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels doesn’t see a repeat of that three-pass, 46-run performance.

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“I don’t really think that’s a big deal,” McDaniels said Tuesday of the impending forecast. “I mean, throwing the ball or running it in the cold, either way, it is what it is. I think the other stuff has more to do with whether or not it’s difficult to throw the ball — wind or rain or heavy, heavy snow. We’ll have contingency plans ready just in case something would change at the last second because we know where we’re going. Buffalo is kind of like New England; the weather can change quick there. So we’ll be ready to deal with it the way we need to, but I wouldn’t expect us to change radically if the temperature is the only thing we’re dealing with.”

Forecasts from earlier in the week predicted snow flurries are a possibility, but no more than an inch of snow is expected.

The Patriots haven’t played in a game as cold in the 2021-22 season as this one could be — the temperature in their first matchup in Buffalo this year was listed at 36 degrees. But they have typically fared well in cold-weather games of late. The team is 9-3 in games under 40 degrees and 2-0 in contests colder than 30 degrees since the start of the 2018 season, according to Stathead. After all, New England has its share of cold snaps and snowstorms, too.

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Still, Buffalo is plenty used to these conditions as well. Though Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s home splits are slightly worse than his road stats, perhaps in part because of the weather, the Bills have won 11 of their 14 games in sub-40-degree games and are 4-1 in such games this year. That Week 13 loss to the Patriots is their only defeat.

The weather, McDaniels said, “will be what it will be.” His offense just has to execute.

“We’ve certainly played and practiced in cold weather. Maybe haven’t practiced in that type of weather yet this year, but I’d say it’s been below 20 degrees at times. So it is what it is…I don’t think the temperature really has much to do with the passing game,” he said.

“It’s just more of a mental thing than anything else. Our guys are used to practicing and playing in whatever the conditions are up here in New England, and we’re going to be ready to go. Whatever the good Lord has for us on Saturday night, we’ll be ready to go, and we’ll try to do the best things we can to help us win the game.”

McDaniels’s rookie quarterback, Jones, has shown he can throw the ball well during slippery conditions during the summertime, but his arm wasn’t tested in that first road meeting with the Bills. On top of that, he’s struggled in three of his last four games throwing the football in the best of conditions.

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Though the Patriots will no doubt rely on the run game as much as they can against Buffalo, especially in the cold, Jones will have to throw the ball this time around. If he falters again, New England’s season will be over.

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