The Patriots won a thrilling last second game against the Giants in New Jersey on Sunday with kicker Stephen Gostkowski booming a 54-yard field goal for the 27-26 win and keep the Pats record perfect at 9-0.
Now they return home to face a Buffalo Bills team fresh off of a big win in the Meadowlands themselves, as they defeated the Jets last Thursday night. Buffalo is very much in the hunt for a playoff spot and this is a big game both literally and figuratively for them.
The Bills have had a hard time beating the Patriots and Tom Brady, especially in Foxboro. Last year’s regular season finale had New England resting many of its starters and really can’t too big a source of inspiration in their quest. Overall Brady is 24-3 against the Bills including this year’s 40-32 win in Orchard Park. Sunday will mark the 112th matchup all-time between the Patriots and Bills.
Here are our Five First Second Impressions of the Bills:
Rex Ryan Taking it Easy With His Bombast: Maybe this should add the caveat …so far. Unlike Week 2 where Ryan was playing the game up to an early season Super Bowl for the Bills, this week thus far, he’s been taking a more laid back approach. It is probably much more well served, in the first meeting Ryan had his team so fired up they played out of control and had 14 penalties for 140 yards.
Rex was killing the Patriots with kindness on Tuesday handing out compliments left and right. Ryan told the press in Buffalo that the Patriots have the best coach, offense and quarterback in the NFL.
Asked about Tom Brady’s continued success at age 38, Ryan said, “I’m waiting for the wheels to come off.”
Ryan added, “But the thing about him is, where I don’t know what’s driving him — he’s got all the rings, he’s got all this stuff — but there’s something internal that drives that guy and he’s in phenomenal shape.”
“This might be as good as shape as he’s been. And maybe knowing that when you’re getting up there in age, you’ve got to be in great shape. But he’s that way. He’s moving well. And his accuracy is like crazy.”
He even mentioned his brother in a comment from the press that the Giants had ‘rattled Brady” on Sunday. “Well, the Giants rattled them for over 200 passing yards in a quarter,” Ryan said. “So what’s that, 800 yards for a game? If he threw for 800 yards against us. I’ll join my brother in the unemployment line.
“And Brady will try to do that, you watch.”
Bills 2015 Draft Nets Two Gems in Darby and Williams: The Bills hit a homer on their 2015 draft class even without having a first round pick. The Bills top three picks are all playing valuable roles for the team, belying their status as rookies on the field.
Their top pick in the 2nd round, CB Ronald Darby has been arguably their best corner. The Florida State alum was widely liked during the draft process on this page and he’s been giving the Bills outstanding coverage on the outside. He has to be one of the front runners for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Running back Karlos Williams was a steal in the fifth round and has been a big addition to the running game. When top back LeSean McCoy was dealing with hamstring issues, Williams filled in admirably, carrying the team’s rushing attack thru the first few weeks of the season. After missing a bit with a concussion he returned against the Dolphins and rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns. On the season he’s averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Third round pick John Miller has started every game at guard but while he’s struggled for much of his rookie season, the Bills are hoping that his game comes around.
Healthy Bills Look to their Offense this time: Unlike the first matchup back in September, the Bills weapons on offense are healthy this time around and they hoping to make a much bigger impact.
Shady McCoy is over his hamstring issues and seems to have the explosion back in his game. Sammy Watkins is healthy now and when the trio has been in the lineup together the Bills have been 3-1.
The ground game with McCoy, Williams and Taylor has gained has gained over 1100 yards rushing and when the running game is going it keeps the opposing offense on the sideline and opens up play action passing.
In contrast the Patriots are banged up offensively, their top three tackles, best wide receiver (Edelman), and running back (Dion Lewis) are all injured.
Improved Bills Defense Looks For Better Outing: The Bills defense was gashed by Tom Brady during the Week 2 matchup in Buffalo enroute to a 40 point outing.
Brady and the Patriots largely eschewed the running game for a quick passing game where Brady frequently got the ball off in 1.5 – <2 seconds from snap to throw. The Bills pass rushers were helpless to get to him that quickly and the Patriots carved them up to the tune of 507 yards of offense with 466 of them coming thru the air.
Rex Ryan said on Tuesday that the defense, especially the communication has improved. “Our defense is much better than it was that week,” Ryan said in a radio interview. “It couldn’t be worse. From a communication standpoint, everything else- oh my gosh- were we bad. They’re really good, but we really helped them.”
“Without question, we’ve improved defensively from that point,” Ryan said.
Even without Julian Edelman (11 catches, 97 yards) and Dion Lewis (6 catches 98 yards), the Bills will have their hands full with the Patriots quick, up-tempo attack. The team now has Brandon LaFell back and with Danny Amendola getting more reps in the passing game in lieu of Edelman, they’ll defensively still have to deal with Rob Gronkowksi in the middle of the field.
Protection will be key for Taylor: Usually when talking protection we mention Brady as he’s not the most mobile QB in the league. But in the first meeting, the Bills offensive line suffered and the Patriots pass rush sacked Tyrod Taylor eight times in the road win.
Chandler Jones, (3 sacks), and Jamie Collins (2.5 sacks) were the main culprits that day and the Patriots were the ones who harassed the QB, got pressure and forced interceptions (three), on the day.
This will be a key area to monitor on Monday night, the Patriots will want to keep Taylor in the pocket and bring pressure up the middle and force Taylor into making mistakes. It should be noted that since that Patriots game, Taylor has thrown only one pick, an interception against the Giants.
Collins who has missed the past two games with an illness, will be a big focus of the Bills offensive line if he’s able to go this week.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Bill Belichick Brandon LaFell Buffalo Bills Chandler Jones Danny Amendola Jabaal Sheard Julian Edelman Karlos Williams LaGarrette Blount LeSean McCoy Malcolm Butler New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers predictions Rex Ryan Rob Gronkowski Ronald Darby Sammy Watkins Tom Brady Tyrod Taylor