The Buffalo Bills (1-2) Travel to Foxboro on a high note after demolishing the Arizona Cardinals at home last week. It was quite impressive how the team responded after losing their first two games of the season, with the head coach on the hot seat.
Rex Ryan has had some success against the Patriots, earlier in his time with the New York Jets, but as of lately, the division rivalry has been very one-sided.
With Tom Brady set to return next week, the team will need one more game where they will really need to rely on their run game and defense. But can the Ryan finally steal one from them?
Rex Ryan is 4-11 (including the playoffs) when facing the Patriots (1-9 in the last 10 games)
Bill Belichick is 26-4 vs the Buffalo Bills as Head Coach of the Patriots
The Patriots haven’t lost a meaningful game at home to the Bills since 2000
New England lead the all-time series vs Buffalo : 69-42-1
Jamie Collins (91) of the New England Patriots. Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Matchups to Watch
Battle in the Trenches (Patriots DL vs. Bills OL/Patriots OL vs. Bills DL)
The Patriots have done a good job the last two weeks limiting both the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans on the ground. They will need to call upon their defensive front to stop a talented duo in QB Tyrod Taylor and RB LeSean McCoy.
Last week, the Patriots dared the Texans to run on them, but expect them this week to load up the box. This is one of the more important matchups during this game because if the Patriots cannot contain the Bills rushing attack, it could get ugly quick.
As for the Patriots OL, they will be in for a challenge as pressure will be disguised and coming from different directions. So far this season, the offensive line has done well in pass protection and run blocking, however, they have done a better job in pass protection.
Looking back to last week, QB Carson Palmer was harassed all day long thanks to sub-par play by the offensive line and his own bad decisions. He finished the game with an ugly stat line of: 26-50 (52%), 4INTs, 5 SCKs, 36.0 Rating. Protection will be key if the Patriots want a chance to stay in this game.
Aside from McCoy, the Patriots will likely gameplan to force Taylor to try to beat them with his arm. But that’s not the only thing they must monitor – Taylor can also beat teams with his legs. Look for the Patriots to have a spy in the middle of the field at times to make sure he doesn’t make big plays.
As long as the secondary can keep everything in front of them, the Bills may struggle to push the ball downfield. The Patriots secondary has the advantage over the Bills wide receivers with Sammy Watkins placed on IR, so Taylor may be forced to hold the ball longer than he wants to.
Gilmore has been making a statement as one of the best cornerbacks in the league the last two seasons. Not to say he is the next Darrelle Revis, but it may be smart to avoid his side as much as they can. Again, both Patriots QBs are not 100%, so limiting throwing to his side would benefit them.
After being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month, Blount will likely again be called upon to be a workhorse. Blount has been able to continuously run the ball successfully against some good defensive fronts the last few weeks. It would be surprising to see them get away from the ground game considering their QBs are both dinged up.
White is also someone to monitor thanks to his ability to catch out of the backfield. Ryan has been known for consistently bringing the heat. Regardless of who is behind center, the Bills will be looking to pressure the QB as much as they can. Look for White to make some plays with the ball in his hands lining up as a receiver.
As most of the league is aware, Rex Ryan loves to confuse the opposing QB with multiple defensive looks, disguising blitzes and different coverages. It’s hard to counter when he has the right players to execute it. With a good secondary, and defensive front, Ryan will look to keep Garoppolo or Brissett guessing.
Running the ball
It’s worked the first few weeks, so why not try it again? The Patriots have been able to efficiently run the ball, especially when running to the left side of the offensive line. The less pressure on the QB in the pocket, the more better it will benefit them.
Not that the Patriots will follow an exact similar plan, but the Jets in Week 2 rushed the ball 30 with Matt Forte (100 yards, 3TDs) and despite losing last week, the Cardinals rushed 19 times with David Johnson (83 yards, 2TDs).
The most important key to the game regardless of the end result, is escaping with no injuries. The Patriots have already had to deal with several injuries to key starters and have been lucky enough to dodge bullets with the majority of them. Another injury would only hurt the team.
Nov 23, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots fans hold up Rex Ryan pictures during the first half of the game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Last Matchup: 20-13 Patriots
On Monday Night Football, the Patriots were forced to play without Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman, whom they lost for the rest of the regular season. Neither offenses looked particularly great, but the Patriots got the job done and moved on to 10-0.
Win or lose, the Patriots will look forward to having their star QB return next week. Depending on how one may view this game, it may be frustrating, as Rex Ryan, despite his losing record, has constantly found ways to slow down the Patriots offense. If the Patriots are able to have a similar gameplan that they used against the Arizona Cardinals or Houston Texans (three-step dropbacks, power-runs, play-action etc.), they will be in fine shape and can improve to 4-0.