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MORSE: Week 16 Preview: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
1 year ago at 11:09 am ET
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season

MORSE: Week 16 Preview: Buffalo Bills at New England PatriotsRich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For the Week 16 matchup between the Patriots and Bills, I will concentrate on what’s different between the game three weeks ago and Sunday’s game.

How will the Patriots respond in the Week 16 matchup with the Buffalo Bills?  Will they come out and dominate the offensive and defensive lines like they did in the awful weather in Buffalo?  Will they be able to run when the opponent knows they want to run?  Will the cold weather affect the Patriots’ young quarterback?   These are the questions that will have to be answered by the Patriots on Sunday.  Are they legit contenders or are they pretenders?

Bills Offense

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
QB Josh Allen Mitchell Trubisky
RB Devin Singletary Matt Breida Zack Moss Taiwan Jones Q
WR Stefon Diggs Gabriel Davis Marquez Stevenson
WR Emmanuel Sanders Q Isaiah McKenzie
WR Cole Beasley O Jake Kumerow
TE Dawson Knox Tommy Sweeney
FB Reggie Gilliam
LT Dion Dawkins O Spencer Brown
LG Jon Feliciano O Ike Boettger
C Mitch Morse Ryan Bates
RG Cody Ford Daryl Williams Jon Feliciano O Ike Boettger
RT Daryl Williams Spencer Brown Tommy Doyle

 

Offensive line – Center Mitch Morse had an absolutely brutal game against the Patriots from start to finish.  He got beaten like an old rug.  Even Dan Ekuale beat him for a sack.  Feliciano and Dawkins are out again.  The Patriots’ defense should have another outstanding day stopping the run.  Look for the Defense to be in the Big Nickel from the start of the game against Josh Allen and the passing game.

Quarterback – The pressure of the entire season is on the back of Josh Allen.  He has to come through for the Bills to have a chance in this game.   He had an outstanding game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the week following the Patriots’ loss.  Allen had 36 completions on 54 attempts for 308 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT.  He also ran the ball 12 times for 109 yards.  Is he capable of that kind of effort against the excellent Patriots defense?  The Patriots’ secondary, and in particular JC Jackson is very good.  Jackson fresh off being named to his 1st ever Pro Bowl has been the dominant DB in the league the last three weeks.  He has the lowest completion % against by any CB in the league.  The passer ratings when targeting him is 39.2 %.  He is second in the league in interceptions.  I am looking forward to more Stephon Diggs / Jackson matchups on Sunday.

Runningbacks – Devon Singletary has emerged as the #1 back.  Throw in some Matt Breida for a change of pace.  Singletary had 86 yards on 22 carries against the Panthers in the Bills win against the Panthers in Buffalo.  The Bills’ defense shut down the inept Cam Newton (18-38 156 yards 1TD, 1INT 15.6 passing ratings) and made a commitment to run the ball with the lead.  Can they do that against the Patriots’ defense?  The Patriots’ run defense was much better than the stats from the Saturday night game against the Colts indicated.  Take away the 67 yard run by Jonathan Taylor in the 4th quarter and he ran 28 times for 103 yards.  If going into the game I was told we would hold Taylor to 103 yards I would be very happy.  The Bills have no back or line that’s can produce that.  Note:  Geoff Schwartz, the former 8-year NFL O-lineman did a nice job on Twitter praising the Colts line blocking on the Taylor TD run.  He used the All 22 video to show the great job Fisher and Nelson did.  However, the video clearly shows an egregious hold by RG Glowinski and C Pinter.  Godchaux goes to Pinter’s right to open up the hole for Kyle Van Noy to blitz through.  Glowinski double teams Guy to his right.  There is a gaping hole for Van Noy to go through.  Pinter reaches out with his right arm and Glowinski reaches out with his left arm to tackle Van Noy … No call.  No call on the DPI against Bills for the Harry play.  No call for targeting a defenseless receiver blow to the head against Colts Sendejo, a repeat offender.

Wide Receiver –  Stephon Diggs is a top receiver in the league.  He has made JC Jackson look bad in the past.  With the wind conditions in Buffalo, the Patriots’ secondary was able to neutralize the Bills’ passing game.  The weather Sunday may include snow!  In the past two games, Diggs has made 11 catches for 109 yards and a TD.  It has been Gabriel Davis that has made the most damage.  His numbers are 10 catches for 128 yards and 3 TDs.  Davis had beaten Jalen Mills on a slant for what would have been the winning TD if Myles Bryant hadn’t come off his man in the slot and battered away the pass.  A major blow will be the loss of the reliable slot Cole Beasley.  He is on the COVID list and the boisterous anti-vaxxer is out for Sunday because he is not vaccinated and is required to sit out 10 days.  He had 13 catches over the last two games.  Emmanuel Sanders is Questionable for Sunday and was Limited in practice Thursday.  Jake Kumerow is listed as the backup slot, but Isaiah McKenzie or Marquez Stevenson might step in.

 

Bills Defense   

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
LDE Greg Rousseau AJ Epenesa O Efe Obada
LDT Ed Oliver Vernon Butler
RDT Star Lotulelei Harrison Phillips Justin Zimmer IR
RDE Jerry Hughes Q Mario Addison Boogie Basham Bryan Cox Jr. IR
WLB Matt Milano Andre Smith
MLB Tremaine Edmunds Tyrel Dodson
SLB A.J. Klein Tyler Matakevich
LCB Taron Johnson Dane Jackson Tre’Davious White IR
SS Jordan Poyer Damar Hamlin
FS Micah Hyde Q Jaquan Johnson
RCB Levi Wallace Siran Neal Cam Lewis

 

Defensive Line – The Bills still can’t stop the run.  They gave up 137 yards and 119 of those to Leonard Fournette.  Against the Panthers without McCaffrey, they gave up 157 of which 72 yards were to Cam Newton.  Both games had the opposition running 29 times.   If the Patriots run 29 times, they will control and win the game.  Jerry Hughes was listed as Questionable but he was a full participant on Thursday.  Star Lotulelei (Did Not Participate – Personal) was a no show on Thursday, Ed Oliver, along with Greg Rousseau will be available.  AJ Espenesa is listed as Out but may come back as a game-time decision (COVID).

Linebackers – They are in much better shape than they were in week 13.  A.J. Klein is healthy and should play.  Tremaine Edmunds remains a stud and Matt Milano is always around the ball.

Secondary –  The loss of Tre’Davious White is a killer blow to the Bills.  He is an outstanding player.  Micah Hyde is listed as Questionable as he was limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.  Jordon Poyer had a rough game against the Patriots. CB Cam Lewis was a DNP with an Illness for Thursday’s practice.  I expect a bounce-back game by the Bills secondary with the Patriots’ top two wideouts listed as Out.  There is some hope that Kendrick Bourne may pass the COVID protocol and be able to play Sunday.  N’Keal Harry had his best game versus the Colts before he was knocked out with an illegal hit.  Miraculously he has passed the concussion protocol and was a full participant at practice on Wednesday.   I expect the Bills to load the box like the Colts did and adjust out of that look late in the 40-second play clock.  The Patriots are home and the Bills won’t have the crowd noise advantage the Colts had in inducing so many false start penalties.  Look for the Pats to go some no-huddle, snapping the ball earlier in the 40-second clock to keep the Bills making those late adjustments.

 

Special Teams

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
PK Tyler Bass
P Matt Haack
H Matt Haack
PR Isaiah McKenzie Marquez Stevenson
KR Isaiah McKenzie Marquez Stevenson
LS Reid Ferguson

 

Nothing has changed in personnel here since week 13.  The Patriots Special Teams must play better than they did in the dreadful Week 15 performance versus the Colts.  Special teams, in a very unlikely manner for Patriots teams, lost the game for the home team.

 

Game Outlook –   The weather may be a factor.  I have seen predictions of snow and others of clear and in the ’40s.  At the very least it will be cold and getting colder as the game goes on.  It’s gut-check time for the Patriots.  Can they bounce back from the loss to the Colts in Indianapolis?  A series of mistakes led to the loss.  Mac Jones played very well in the second half nearly bringing the Pats all the way back.   Buffalo got run over by Indy in Orchard Park and there is no reason the Patriots can’t do the same thing if they eliminate the silly mistakes.  The Pats are playing at home which should cut down on the drive-killing illegal motion penalties.  The Colts used the crowd noise and the fact the Patriots were going on a silent count.  The Colts shifted their D Line, simulating they were crossing the line, late in the 40-second play clock.  The O line is reading the D line movement to show that the ball has been hiked.

The fact that Agholor is out of the game will not make much of a difference, I expect Kendrick Bourne to be cleared to play before the game Sunday.

I expect some no-huddle offense by the Patriots, not allowing substitutions by Buffalo.  I also anticipate the Patriots won’t wait until the 40-second clock has run down to confuse and not allow Buffalo to switch out of a 10 man box Defense.


Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season

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