The Biggest Game of the early part of the season is this Sunday as those Patriots head to Canadian Western New York to play the Buffalo Bills. It is an early divisional matchup between two teams that really do not like each other. Whoever wins this has an early lead in the divisional race and could propel them to a great year.
The Patriots defense struggled against the run last week as DeAngelo Williams was able to break a lot of runs outside for big gains. The interior of the defensive line has some solid lineman in Brown and Branch who should be able to plug up the runs up the gut. The big key will be the runs to the outside where Nink struggled last week (though part of that was due to holding by the right tackle). The front four will have a big task of stopping the run and avoiding the big runs to the outside that Shady McCoy will try to do. Against the pass the key will be spying Tyrod and covering the flats where Tyrod attempts most of his passes. Butler will have the task of covering Watkins and needs to not get burnt deep like he was a few times last week while covering Brown. Outside of Watkins the Bills have a few weapons in Clay and Harvin who have explosive ability. If the Pats contain Tyrod in the pocket and force him to throw it more than ten yards, they could potentially slow down the Bills offense.
The Bills will be putting the pressure on Brady and try to do what they did to Luck last week. The short passing game will be needed and Edelman should have opportunities as the corners of the Bills aren’t built to cover players like him. Brady should have his chances and if the interior of the line holds up against Dareus and Williams, Brady could shred the defense. Also Gronk…..smash.
In the run game the return of Blount helps as the Patriots can now have a power running game and open up play action opportunities. The run game doesn’t have to be great, just good enough.
The Bills have Dareus back which should help a lot as they do not need to blitz as much. Instead they can cause havoc with just the front four and allow the back seven to drop into coverage. The key will be to shut down Gronk and I expect it will be a group effort. When split out wide, I expect Gilmore will be on him, otherwise it will be a joint effort by Bradham and Aaron Williams. The run defense will also need to do its job as Blount gives the Pats some semblance of a running game. Dareus should help in that regards but if the Bills make the Pats one dimensional, they can start teeing off on Brady.
The Bills faced a mediocre defense last week and had mixed results. This week they play a much better defense and while not great, it is serviceable. The run game will need to improve as last week Shady was able to do very little. The Pats have a very solid interior but weak on the edges which means outside runs might be the way to go. Miller and Seantrel will be key as both were horrendous last week in run blocking. The Bills will be running it a lot, and to pull off the victory, they need success in it.
Last week Roman called a very conservative game plan for Tyrod with mostly short easy completions and the occasional deep ball. The Pats have better linebackers than the Colts so those short passes might not go for big gains like last week. To win the game, Tyrod will have to do a better job attacking the intermediate part of the field. Outside of Butler and McCourty the Pats have nothing in the secondary which means Big Play Clay should have some mismatches in the middle of the field. Also, throw it to Watkins. Last week Watkins was double teamed a lot but even then he was getting open and Tyrod didn’t even look his way until the end. Butler is no Vontae Davis and if the Pats do what they did last week and leave Butler on an island , that is a mismatch Tyrod needs to exploit.
In conclusion, this is a very big game for the Bills. They have been a laughingstock for the past 15 years and with Rex Ryan as head coach, expectations are through the roof. The Bills need this win to get any respect from the media. To the Patriots, this is just another game. Overall I think this will be a very close game and the final score will be: