Assuming the schedule doesn’t change, on January 8 the Buffalo Bills will host the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium. Although I’m not much of a football fan, the Patriots are my regional team so I tend to follow their progress in a casual way. Football games make an excellent subject for my “Enemy at the Gates” conflict-resolution spread; here I’m putting the Bills in the top row as the home team, with the Patriots below as the visitors. As always, I’m using the Chariot – which has the basic meanings of “triumph in practical matters” and “movement toward a goal” – as the “Opportunity” card.
In the “Strength” position, the Bills received the 3 of Wands (“Virtue”) upright while the Patriots got the 10 of Wands (“Oppression”) reversed. The prediction is that the Bills will demonstrate mastery of the fundamentals while the frustrated Patriots will “beat their heads against the wall” for little gain. (Raw score” +1 Bills)
In the “Weakness” position, the Bills’ main problem with the Knight of Wands could be overconfidence, while the Patriots with the Moon may have difficulty finding the rhythm and the groove. Still, it looks like the Bills will be more energetic throughout the game while the Patriots are a bit lackluster and unfocused. (Raw score: +1 Bills)
In the “Edge” position, the Bills have the 4 of Swords (“Truce”) while the Patriots came up with the Fool. The implication here is that the Bills’ supremacy will rest on a modest advantage coaxed primarily from their passing game, while the Patriots can’t find the end zone. (Raw score: +1 Bills)
In the “Allies’ Strength” position (which I interpret to mean defensive-team capability), neither side is particularly dominant. The Bills with the Knight of Cups reversed will at least make a showing when they aren’t caught flatfooted by the Patriots’ fitful, uneven offense, while the Patriots’ defense, with the 9 of Swords (“Cruelty”) reversed, gets the worst of the comparison since they will most likely be unable to penetrate the Bills’ offensive line (the reversal of this card in competitive terms suggests “failed strategies”). (Raw score: +1 Bills)
In the “Chances to Win” position, the Chariot for the Bills echoes the “Opportunity” card at the beginning. making them look like the odds-on favorite. The Patriots with the Magus reversed can’t generate the momentum to overtake the Bills, although their finesse may keep them from getting blown out. (Raw score: +1 Bills)
The “Decision” card is the Lovers, which I read as the “crossroads” card. Elementally, it strongly favors neither team, although as another Air card it bolsters the Patriots’ “Chances to Win” (but not nearly enough to make a difference in the outcome). It’s worth noting that the Patriots are at a significant crossroads in their season; if they beat the Bills they will automatically advance to the playoffs, but if they lose, three other teams will all have to drop their upcoming games for the Patriots to move up. (Raw score: null)
The bottom line is that the Bills enjoy a commanding 5-0 advantage in the raw scoring. (Note that this isn’t an “actual score” projection, just a method of ranking comparative strengths and weaknesses.)
In my quarter-by-quarter scoring analysis, at the end of the first period it looks like the team that is in the lead (most likely the Bills) will be up by two touchdowns. At halftime, the team that is ahead could see the lead dwindle to a single field-goal. By the end of the third quarter the margin will remain steady although the lead might change hands, and the final score could settle out at a one-touchdown victory for the winning team.
Summary: Given the clear superiority of the Buffalo Bills in the categorical match-up, the narrow gap in the quarterly scoring differential is surprising. But my understanding is that the Bills have sustained several crucial injuries while the Patriots have only a couple of questionable starters, so that could keep them in the game. All-in-all, though, at least in this one contest the Bills look like Super Bowl material while the Patriots come across as no more than capable but underwhelming “wannabes.” But, of course, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong.
This content was originally published here.