The Patriots and the Bills meet on Monday Night Football in a game that showcases how much things have flipped in the AFC East. The Bills have already clinched the division and are still in the running for the #2 seed. The Patriots, meanwhile, have been eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 2008.
This week’s game will be broadcast by ESPN and can be seen locally in the Greater Boston area on WCVB-TV Channel 5. Steve Levy will handle play-by-play duties with Brian Griese and Louis Riddick as the color analysts. Lisa Salters will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.
The Bills haven’t won a meaningful game in Foxboro in a very long time. In 2014, Tom Brady sat out the 2nd half in a final regular-season matchup. In 2016, Brady was suspended for cold weather and Jimmy G. was out and the Bills shut out Jacoby Brissett 16-0.
The Patriots absolutely owned the Bills during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. Buffalo beat them in Orchard Park earlier this year. Now is their time.
The Patriots (6-8) were gashed badly on the ground by the Miami Dolphins in South Beach 22-12. The offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in two games.
The Bills (11-3) blew out the Denver Broncos 48-19. Josh Allen shredded Denver’s defense for 359 yards completing 28-40 passes with 2 TDs and 0 INTs.
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2020 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.
So, here is our look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.
First up is the Patriots offense:
Patriots RBs vs Bills Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Buffalo
The Patriots’ have been a ground and pound team all season, They’ve ran behind Sony Michel and Damien Harris and have been very good, averaging 145.4 yards per game which is 6th best in the NFL. Harris missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, but Michel ran well, gaining 76 yards on just 10 carries.
Buffalo was leaky in the run defense earlier this year, but with Matt Milano back they have definitely solidified things. Look for the Bills to do what everyone else has been doing to the Patriots; stack the box and dare them to throw the ball down the field.
Patriots WRs vs Bills Secondary – Razor’s Edge Buffalo
The Patriots’ struggles throwing the ball have been a constant since Week 2. And whether you are on Team Cam, or the anti-Cam, he’s thrown just five TDs (5), against 10 INTs this year. That is unacceptable. Julian Edelman has missed eight straight games and will probably miss the final two. Having a viable tight end target in the red zone would help matters but the team needs some additions to the passing game.
The Bills are very solid on the back end, and now they’re healthy. Buffalo has made t34 sacks on the season and will probably be dialing up some blitzes on Newton. Will the Patriots see what they have in Jarrett Stidham? We’ll see, one thing we haven’t seen is the wheel route with James White…
Next up the Buffalo offense:
Bills RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Buffalo
The Patriots’ run defense was absolutely gashed the past two games going from bad to worse when they allowed 250 yards to a pretty poor Miami running game. Setting the edge has been poor and the DL has been getting pushed around.
Much like Buffalo’s run defense, their running game was so-so early in the year, but has been getting better as the season wears on. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both gashed the Patriots in the first matchup and with Josh Allen providing some extra looks in the running game, they should control the line of scrimmage again.
Bills WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge Buffalo
The Patriots secondary lost the reigning defensive MVP in Stephon Gilmore. This puts extra pressure on J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, and the other corners in this one.
Allen has Stefon Diggs, who had a very good game the first time around, going against mainly Jackson. Although John Brown is on IR, Cole Beasley along with Diggs has been a great addition to the offense. Allen may not pass for a ton of yards on Monday, but he won’t have to with the running game dominating the NE front seven.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots get a slight advantage here, as Nick Folk has made 25 field goals in a row. After a slow start, the Bills’ Tyler Bass has made 17-18 of his last FG attempts. Jake Bailey has been outstanding for the team, being a great weapon. Corey Bojorquez is very solid. Andre Roberts in the return game for Buffalo is always dangerous. Gunner Olszewski has been much improved in the punt return game. But Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, and Cody Davis on the STs gives NE the edge.
Next up, who wins and why…
This has been an absolute gimme for New England at home against Buffalo in the Bill Belichick era, going 16-2 in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are 4-0 all-time against the Bills on MNF. But as Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
No Turnovers – The Patriots have been good when not turning the ball over (3-1), and bad when committing multiple turnovers (1-3). Nuff said. Facing a potent offense and with an offense not built for playing from behind, they can ill afford any turnovers on Monday night.
Slow Down the Run – You will notice, we didn’t say stop the run, but slow it down. With as poor as the run defense has been lately, slowing Buffalo down, just a little bit will be a huge win for the Patriots. Buffalo had one of their best running game performances against the Patriots, running for 180 yards in the first meeting. With Ja’Whaun Bentley banged up, they may need a big game from Terez Hall or Anfernee Jennings.
Offensive Line Has to Take Over – The Bills know the Patriots are going to run, have to run to win, and will stack the box to stop that. Therefore, the OL of the Patriots has to dominate (not an easy task) in this one. Michel, Harris (if available), James White, Newton, and rookie J.J. Taylor will have to keep the Bills guessing.
This is a tough matchup for the Patriots at this juncture. I had initially hoped that after clinching their first division crown in 25 years, there would be a Bills letdown. But with the freefall of Pittsburgh the past three weeks, the Bills have a shot at the #2 seed in the playoffs. That means this one is no longer a meaningless game…for them.
The last time the Patriots were swept in a divisional season series was 2000. The last time Buffalo swept New England was 1999. “The times they are a-changin’.” The Patriots’ offense can’t keep up and the Bills cruise. Buffalo 27-12.
Posted Under: 2020 NFL Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Cole Beasley James White Josh Allen New England Patriots NFL Patriots Sony Michel Stefon Diggs Stephon Gilmore