At one time, New England week was something that every Buffalo Bills fan dreaded. Nobody blamed you if you opted to get some yard work done instead of sitting through three hours of torture. After all, who wanted to watch Tom Brady decimate the Bills for the umpteenth time in a row? Things have changed since Tom left and Buffalo became the King of the AFC East. What was once a guaranteed loss is now a “get right” game for the Bills. It is a welcome change against the team every Bills fan loves to hate.
The Last Five
Bills 35 Patriots 23 (2023)
Bills 24 Patriots 10 (2022)
Bills 47 Patriots 17 (2022 Wild Card)
Bills 33 Patriots 21 (2021)
Patriots 14 Bills 7 (2021)
The Buffalo Bills are on a four-game win streak against the Patriots, and have won six of the last seven. Their only loss in that time frame came on Monday Night Football with an assist from 70mph winds. Overall, the Patriots still have a mind-boggling 77-49-1 lead in the series, thanks to their dominance during the drought years.
What To Watch For: Buffalo Bills
Start Hot – Despite still being ranked towards the top of the league in offensive production, the Buffalo Bills offense appears to be in crisis. Eight quarters after their surgical performance against the Dolphins, the panic button has officially been pressed by Bills fans. A slow start was the reason for the loss in London and a slow start nearly cost them against the Giants, too. It is imperative that the Bills start the game with offensive success on Sunday. That includes having production on early downs to leave yourself third and manageable, converting on third downs, not taking penalties that turn into drive killers, etc. Without some resolutions to the offensive issues this week, be ready for more questioning of Ken Dorsey, Sean McDermott, and Brandon Beane.
Slow Cookin’ – The success of the run game, specifically James Cook, was a major reason for the Bills’ blazing three game stretch of blowout wins over the Raiders, Commanders, and Dolphins. After recording -4 yards in London, Sean McDermott decided to bench Cook from the starting lineup start Latavius Murray on Sunday night. Cook eventually came into the game and was quite productive. It was a curious decision with a player who had been playing well so far this year. It is early in the year, but it might not be too early to say that Cook’s production will closely mirror the Bills’ success this year. Here’s hoping that whatever the message was by starting Murray has been sent and received by the Bills’ leading rusher.
Interior D-Line – Ed Oliver is officially out for Sunday’s game. It will be another significant loss for a team that is struggling along the inside of their defensive line. Since losing DaQuan Jones, the job has been shared by Tim Settle, Jordan Phillips, and Poona Ford. Their production has been inconsistent and, at times, downright concerning. Watching the Giants run the same play over and over again, ripping off long runs was not ideal last week. While McDermott and Co. adjusted, the struggle along the inside without Jones is real for the Buffalo Bills. It is a part of the roster that the Patriots will try to expose on Sunday.
What To Watch For: New England Patriots
Answer For JA17 – Bill Belichick, the defensive guru that he is, has yet to find an answer for Josh Allen. Over the last seven games against the New England Patriots, Josh Allen has 17 touchdown passes and two interceptions. In four of those games, Allen has thrown for three or more TDs. Allen has this Patriots team by the throats. Their only chance of beating Buffalo involves making Allen look human. There isn’t much of a script for that, except hoping that some lucky bounces turns Josh Allen human and he self-implodes, which he has done from time to time. Outside of a three-INT performance back in 2019, Allen has not made “the big mistake” against the Patriots. Will Belichick finally have an answer? Already sitting at 1-5, the Patriots season might just depend on it.
Stevenson & Zeke – While simultaneously hoping for Allen to make a handful of mistakes on Sunday, the Patriots should be game planning for a heavy load for their two lead backs, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott. As I mentioned above, while the Bills defensive line held up pretty well for the first have of the Giants game last week, some issues came out towards the end, allowing Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense to move the ball with success on them. With Mac Jones struggling and Patriot fans mentally done with him and already dreaming of Caleb Williams, the Patriots would be foolish to not test a hobbled Bills defensive line.
Patriot Pride – The New England Patriots have become accustomed to playing for Super Bowls since the start of the new century. They haven’t often been in a situation where they find themselves playing for pride, but that is exactly where they find themselves after being outscored 94-20 over their past three games against the Cowboys, Saints, and Raiders. Their point differential of -90 is the second-worst in the league. The Patriots are the only team in the league to not score 20 points in a single game. As bad as New England has looked, they played two of their closest games against the rival Dolphins and Jets. With rumors of Bill Belichick’s reign possibly coming to an end after this year, another flop could prove costly to the once-proud franchise.
Buffalo Bills 34 New England Patriots 20. While the Patriots finally eclipse the 20-point threshold, the Bills are too much of an ask for them right now. I called it a “get right” game early in this article and I believe that. The Bills will get some of their offensive issues out on Sunday and, while it won’t be perfect for them, taking the time to get your offense right against the team that beat up on you for two decades might give fans a little extra pep in their step as they head into a short week.
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