The final addition of Thursday Thought: Team Battle Edition is upon us. We’ve reached the final comparison as the two strongest units in the AFC East go head to head. The Bills Defense versus the Patriots Defense. Both were top-five units last year and are loading with talent at every level. However, when push comes to shove, who has the superior defense? This week’s Thursday Thought: Team Battle Edition: The Bills Defense versus the Patriots Defense.
With the loss of Danny Shelton in free agency, there isn’t much to speak of at defensive tackle for the Patriots. Adam Butler had a great season in 2019 recording a career-high 6 sacks. Lawrence Guy is a solid but unspectacular veteran player. After that, there is not much else. A whole bunch of rookies and unknown players fill out the rest of the Patriots depth chart. The talent and depth the Bills have a defensive tackle is ultimately superior to that of the Patriots. The Bills have four to five quality NFL defensive tackles which is rare in the NFL
The Patriots, like the Bills, are deep at defensive end. Deatrich Wise is a solid young player, who can set the edge in the run game. John Simon is a reliable veteran who is tough as nails and Chase Winovich is a solid contributor as well. The Patriots don’t have any star power but their defensive ends are not to be slept on. Compared to the Bills, neither team has the star power. However, the Bills have just a little bit more at defensive end. They have a little bit more depth, production, and ability than New England.
With the departure of Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, the Patriots linebacking core needed help desperately. Rookies Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche are exciting football players for the future and Donta Hightower is still a solid player, just not the disrupter he used to be. New England’s linebackers certainly aren’t bad, but they’re unproven. The Bills have proven young players in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, who may be the best linebacker duo in football.
This is where things get interesting. 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore is a shutdown corner and is likely the best in the NFL. J.C. Jackson is one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the game and Jason McCourty, despite being in the back nine of his career, is still a solid player. Not to mention Joejuan Williams is an intriguing prospect. Tre’Davious White is right there with Gilmore for the best cornerback in football, but the rest of the Bills cornerbacks aren’t on the same level as New England. Josh Norman, E.J. Gaines, Levi Wallace, and Taron Johnson, can play at a high level but have their fair share of red flags. Johnson and Gaines struggle with health. Norman is 32 years old and Wallace is inconsistent.
Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung have manned the back end of the Patriots defense for a long time. They both are very good players. Even though they are both 32 years old, they can still get it done. Behind them are some good players too. Adrian Phillips is one of the most underrated safeties in football and Kyle Dugger is raw but could be a great player under Bill Belichick. The Bills have their versions of Chung and McCourty with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, who are so important to their defense. Dean Marlowe and Jaquan Johnson are both solid player to have behind the two starters. Both teams are strong at safety.
Advantage: No one, push.
This one is tough. The Patriots and Bills both own two of the best secondaries in football. They lock things down the field and are a nightmare for any offense to deal with. However, when it comes down to deciding who has the better defense, the Bills have a much better front seven. The Patriots losing Van Noy, Collins, and Shelton are tremendous losses that are being overshadowed by Tom Brady’s departure. The Patriots defense will still be good, but the Bills have a great front seven to go with a great secondary.
What do you think? Who has the better defense on paper for the 2020 season? Let me know in the comment section below or on Twitter.
Mitch Broder is a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mitchell_broder