New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones is no stranger to heated rivalries on the gridiron. Having played his collegiate football for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the 23-year-old is well-versed in wearing the uniform of a team that is often considered the most egregious of villains.
Still, as the old saying goes, Mac, ‘ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’
On Monday night, Jones will take the field at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York for the first time in a Patriots jersey as his 8-4 squad gets set for battle with their bitter division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
Though the Patriots enter this matchup with an 8-4 record, winners of six-straight, the 7-4 defensive AFC Champions provide perhaps the toughest test for the Pats this season, to date. Buffalo is among the NFL’s best teams in all three phases of the game. The Bills are well-coached and possess the type of battle-tested experience that will greatly assist them in both late-season and playoff contests.
If preparing for this pivotal road matchup with Buffalo was not daunting enough, add the potential impact of their raucous fan base, known as the Bills Mafia.
Known for their passion and staunch support of their home team, the Bills’ fan base is among the most dedicated and loyal in all of professional sports. In addition to ensuring a loud, animated atmosphere within the confines of Highmark Stadium throughout the game, the ‘Bills Mafia’ is just as infamously known for their occasionally debaucherous pre-game rituals. As a result, visiting teams may consider the term ‘hostile environment’ to be a bit of an understatement when it comes to playing in Orchard Park, New York.
While Jones will be treated with…how shall we say…less-than gracious hospitality on Monday night, the Pats young quarterback is not about to add any bulletin board material that might make Bills’ fans in attendance even more venomous.
“They bring a lot of energy, and they have a great fanbase,” Jones said on Wednesday when asked about the infamous Bills Mafia. “They love football. It’s two great franchises going against each other. A lot of football history. This game coming up…like I said, both teams are going to be excited, and there’s going to be energy, so we’ve just got to be ready to go.”
Though Jones’ eloquence is highly unlikely to gain him any marks of merit from the Buffalo faithful, it does send a clear indication that Jones intends to enter the Patriots-Bills rivalry via the high road.
So what is Mac Jones most eagerly anticipating heading into Monday’s Week Thirteen battle with the Bills?
In true gentleman’s fashion, he would not mention the smashing of tables or the tossing of adult-the edge items onto the field of play. Rather, he is most looking forward to the action on the field.
“I think people who love football want to get a chance to play in games like these,” Jones said with a smile. “I know all the guys on both teams want to play in games like this. It’ll be a great experience. I know they have a bunch of great fans, and it’s football, so you’ve just got to go out there and play the game that we’ve all played since we were little kids.”
The Patriots and Bills are set for an 8:20pm kickoff on Monday night, December 6, from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.
As Michael Buffer would say: “Let’s get ready to rumble.”