Billionaire bond fund manager and Buffalo native Jeffrey Gundlach says Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be facing a situation like no other on Sunday, when the undefeated Buffalo Bills host the undefeated New England Patriots in a battle for first place in the AFC East.
“I think there’s going to be quite the reception of Tom Brady and the Patriots gang in New Era Field,” Gundlach, who was rumored to be in talks to become a part owner of the Bills when former owner Ralph Wilson passed away in 2014, told FOX Business. “I don’t think they’ll ever, ever have been in a situation that’s that raucous and loud.”
A victory over the Patriots would give the Bills a leg up in the AFC East, a division they haven’t won since 1995. The Patriots, meanwhile, have taken 16 of the last 19 division titles since Bill Belichick was named head coach for the 2000 season.
Gundlach, the CEO and chief investment officer of the Los Angeles-based DoubleLine Capital, which has $140 billion in assets, says the team is looking much improved this year.
He says quarterback Josh Allen has taken a step forward, but concedes Allen needs to get rid of the ball faster.
“There was one play on Sunday that I counted when they showed the replay he held the ball for 12 seconds — 12 seconds,” he said. “I think the rule in the NFL is 4.5 seconds, you gotta get rid of that ball.”
Gundlach is excited about receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, whom the team signed in the offseason, and third-year wideout Zay Jones. But the player he’s been most impressed with is rookie tight end Dawson Knox.
“I mean we haven’t had a tight end in Buffalo that’s been worth anything for years,” he said. “And then you saw Knox, where he just completely steamrolled this guy that was coming in to put a big hit on him and he just blew the guy up.”
As for Sunday, he thinks the Bills will hang tight in the first half, but could have trouble keeping up in the second half because Bellichick is a master at mixing up his game plan. Still, he says the Bills have one advantage over Bellichick and the Patriots.
“The one thing about the Bills, which I think is going to play to their advantage against Belichick, is Belichick loves figuring out who your most important player is and making sure they are taken out of the game through his strategic plan,” Gundlach said.
“He’s better at that than any other coach, and the Bills don’t have that. They don’t really have that guy that everything revolves around, and for that reason it might be challenging.”
One player Gundlach doesn’t want to see on the Bills is Antonio Brown, the wide receiver who was recently released by the Patriots following allegations that he sexually assaulted and raped his former personal trainer. Brown has denied the claims.
“Antonio Brown would be kind of that guy you gotta take out of your game plan,” Gundlach said. “We don’t need a guy like that.”
As an example, he pointed to LeSean McCoy, who the team released before the season. McCoy gained more than 5,100 yards and scored 40 touchdowns in four seasons with the Bills, but the team only made it to the playoffs once.
“When the Bills succeed, there’s something about the mentality of the locker room, the mentality of the types of players that somehow sinks in with the mentality of the city,” Gundlach said.
“And there’s this kind of weird serendipity and that’s certainly happened in the early ’90s. And I think it’s happening now and I don’t think that Antonio Brown is accretive to that to that direction.”
As for who wins the game on Sunday, Gundlach hedged his bet.
“I think that it’s a seven-point spread or something on the game,” he said. “I think the Bills win, or the Patriots will win by significantly more than seven.”