Was anyone able to breathe normally during Sunday Night Football? I know I couldn’t. I was waiting all day for Sunday Night, but it turned out we had to wait a while for the Buffalo Bills to score their first touchdown! The Bills offensive lag in London ended up traveling home with them to Buffalo, but it couldn’t have come against a better opponent in the New York Giants. Despite their inability to move the chains on offense, the Bills defense came in clutch until the very last second (although it came at the expense of my blood pressure). I was actually at the game, so I did not appreciate the offense having such a poor performance in my royal presence. Nevertheless, I persevered through the cold and my exhaustion.
I can’t say I was surprised that the offense struggled on Sunday night. Having had a quick turnaround from London, the Bills were likely still fighting the time zone demons they had encountered the week prior. There has to be some worry, though, considering they had played against an injured New York Giants team that has been heavily underperforming the entire season! So what gives? Is Ken Dorsey to blame? Are the receivers at fault? They sure had a couple of drops. Was it the offensive line? They didn’t allow a single sack in the game. How about Josh Allen? Rightfully, he was putting the ball in the hands of WR Stefon Diggs, but there were other receivers that were open.
Whatever it is, they have a chance to rewrite the script this week against the New England Patriots. Similar to the Giants, the Patriots have been very lackluster and are dealing with numerous injuries. They have 16 players listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup (This is likely one of those Belichick tricks.) They’ve already ruled out three players (LB Josh Uche, DE Keion White, and OT Riley Reiff).
For the Bills, DT Ed Oliver and TE Quintin Morris were ruled out, and CB Cam Lewis is listed as questionable. Fortunately, TE Dalton Kincaid cleared the concussion protocol, and TE Dawson Knox fully participated in practice all week. Unfortunately, after suffering a neck injury and a concussion in Week 6, Buffalo placed RB Damien Harris on Injured Reserve, and promoted RB Ty Johnson from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. It seems, though, as if the Bills are on the mend on the injury front. They get CB Dane Jackson back from his foot injury. Additionally, CB Christian Benford and QB Josh Allen are both off the injury report!
Now, that is enough with the injuries. Here are the matchups that I anticipate us all will keep an eye on:
Matchups to Watch Out For
Buffalo Bills Defensive Line vs. New England Patriots Offensive Line
With DT Ed Oliver out of the lineup, there are questions surrounding the Buffalo Bills’ defensive tackle room. This leaves Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle, and Poona Ford with a sizable amount of playing time ahead of them for Sunday. I would expect the Bills to elevate Kendal Vickers from the practice squad, because I can’t see them rolling with just three defensive tackles on gameday, especially if the Patriots decide to run the ball a ton. Fortunately, the Bills have a couple defensive ends that can kick into the middle of the line if needed. I implore you to look out for DE Greg Rousseau and others to slide inside on passing downs! Now, speaking of the New England Patriots run game, it is a possibility that they try to lean on it for most of the game and take advantage of the Bills’ soft presence up the middle.
Patriots Quarterback Room
Mac Jones’ 2023 struggles have been widely documented. While he’s passed for 1,208 yards, he’s only thrown five touchdowns and added seven interceptions and two fumbles. Needless to say, he has not been playing well, and the Patriots fanbase, as well as their coaching staff, have taken notice. Bailey Zappe has not been reliable either. He was replaced as the primary backup! In comes Malik Cunningham, whom the Patriots signed to the active roster off of their practice squad.
What’s interesting is that the New England Patriots view Malik as being more than a quarterback — they had had him lined up as a wide receiver for a few snaps against the Raiders. What are Belichick and Bill O’Brien cooking up? It’s obvious that they are still trying to figure out what works for their offense, so I guess they will look to try anything! Zappe is still on the active roster, but he is now their third string quarterback. Will Grier is their fourth string QB. Jones should start on Sunday, but things could change as the game goes on. Keep reading!
TE Dalton Kincaid for Six
Yes, I understand that all of Bills Mafia has predicted this for weeks now, but I feel very strongly about it this time! TE Dalton Kincaid missed Week 6 against the Giants due to a concussion he had suffered in Week 5. Despite the fact that he hasn’t done much, I could tell the Bills missed him. The Bills did not have a mismatch guy to offset WR Stefon Diggs. This likely led the Giants to guard Diggs more effectively and take away the Bills’ secondary weapons.
With Kincaid back in the lineup, TE Dawson Knox will have pressure taken off of him as the primary tight end target. No, it’s not ideal to relegate our $31 million-dollar-guaranteed tight end to a blocking role. We should all be glad that Dalton is back on the field to take his place, though. I am banging the table for a Week 7 Dalton Kincaid touchdown, Football Gods!
Pats Bench Mac Jones
This shouldn’t be a hot take, and I told you that things could change as the game unfolds. I believe that this will be a get-right game for the Bills, and that could mean ugly things for the Patriots. Like I said, New England is basically experimenting right now. The next man up would be Malik Cunningham. So, instead of changing his role on offense, the Patriots will have to play him right where he’s intended to be: at quarterback.
It has certainly been tough sledding for the Buffalo Bills over the past couple of weeks. The offense has looked like a shell of itself at times, and it’s taken them a few quarters into each game to essentially wake up. I hope that is not the case against the New England Patriots. This team is too good to be messing around with an inferior opponent, like they did in Week 6. Putting up 14 points against the Giants is pretty much inexcusable. They can’t keep relying on their injury-decimated defense in those situations any longer. Josh Allen is going to have to trust his weapons outside of Stefon Diggs, and OC Ken Dorsey is going to have to implement Dalton Kincaid into his game plan moving forward. The offense has a chance to fix itself as they dive into the weeks following this Sunday!
(P.S. I can’t forget our old friend CB J.C. Jackson. He has returned to the Patriots just in time to face his buddy, Stefon Diggs!)
After Sunday, Buffalo has a quick turnaround. They head back home to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football! Please be on the lookout for the next edition of Jenna’s Outlook released right before the game!
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