Tag Archives: Sammy Watkins

Patriots Report Card In AFC Championship Win Over Kansas City

Steve Balestrieri
January 22, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

Well… That was a wild finish to that game. The fourth quarter and overtime were exactly the way we described it in our pregame matchup piece, an instant classic. A low scoring game for three quarters exploded in the final 20 minutes of the 4th quarter/OT.

The Patriots went on the road in a very tough place to play in front of a very raucous crowd and were able to pull out a very impressive win to capture their third straight AFC championship and for the Brady/Belichick legacy, this is their ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2001.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win:

Quarterback: A

Tom Brady came out of the gate and led the Patriots on a beautifully called opening drive where the Patriots went 80 yards and ate up eight minutes of the first quarter before the Chiefs even touched the ball. They went back down again with a chance to go up 14 and Brady threw an interception on the end zone on a poor decision. Late in the half, he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett on a really nice pass to the corner of the end zone.

Brady ended up completing 30-46 for 348 yards with a TD and 2 interceptions, the other going off Edelman’s hands and right into the hands of the defender. But after the Chiefs found their offensive mojo and came to take the lead, the Patriots needed Brady’s magic. He gave it to them in spades.

In the last eight and a half minutes of the game, (3:32 in regulation and about 5 minutes of OT) Brady led the Patriots to three touchdown drives. He was vintage Tom Brady and checked all the blocks: Throwing into tight windows? Check. Zipping the ball downfield? Yes for certain. During those last three drives, Brady was 11-16 for 147 yards.  And a perfect 5-5 on 3rd downs. In Overtime, the Patriots converted three 3rd and 10s.

Lucky? Why are we still even having this drivel asked anymore?

Running Backs: A

The Patriots were once again led on the ground by Sony Michel, the rookie had another very productive day, grinding out 113 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns. He was spelled late in the game by Rex Burkhead who ran 12 times for 41 yards and two touchdowns including the game winner in Overtime.

James White didn’t have a big a role as we envisioned carrying just six times for 23 yards. The Patriots rolled up 176 yards on the ground. They did exactly what was asked of them, they set the tone early in the game and then late when the Chiefs were selling out on their pass rush, they gashed them for three late scores.

Wide Receivers: A-

Julian Edelman was once again the Patriots leading receiver with 7 catches for 96 yards and he was immense in the game-winning drive converting two huge 3rd and 10 scenarios with a 20 and 15 yard gain. But he was nearly the goat. He had a pass bounce off his hands and right into a Chiefs linebacker’s (Sorensen) for an easy interception. But he more than made up for that during crunch time. With the hits he took down the middle Edelman once again proved he is as tough as woodpecker lips.

Chris Hogan chipped in with five catches for 45 yards including a huge third-down conversion where he dove and pulled the ball into the crook of his arm for a catch that was challenged but upheld. White had four catches for 49 yards including a huge 30-yard screen pass that set up a score. Phillip Dorsett had just one catch but it was a big one, a 29-yard touchdown. Burkhead had four catches for 23 yards, Cordarrelle Patterson had two for 18, James Develin added in one for nine.

Tight Ends: A

Rob Gronkowski once again dominated in the running game. He, Dwayne Allen, and Develin unleashed the backs with some crushing blocks on the linebackers and edge players. But the Chiefs decided to single cover Gronkowski mostly with a single safety (Eric Berry).

Gronkowski had a big game in the passing department as well hauling in six passes for 79 including the huge 15-yarder over Berry that set-up the final runs by Burkhead that gave them the win. It was an almost vintage-like Gronkowski performance and a well-needed one.

Offensive Line: A

The offensive line had another dominant performance. The Patriots rolled up 524 yards of offense, they ran 94 offensive plays and had only one play (1) go for negative yardage. The kneel down by Tom Brady at the end of regulation.  Kansas City had a very good group of pass rushers who tallied up 52 sacks in the regular season.

Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney dominated Chris Jones last night and not only did he not get any pressure on Brady, but they also pushed him around a lot in the running game.

This was magnified by the Patriots being on the road in a very loud stadium. So the Chiefs could anticipate the snaps from Brady without having to worry about a hard count. Brady was pressured on only seven of 46 dropbacks. Outstanding.

Defensive Line: B+

The Patriots defensive line had a very big game. The Chiefs running game was registered as an afterthought gaining only 41 yards on 12 carries. The defensive line did a great job of mostly containing Patrick Mahomes in the pocket and bringing pressure.

Trey Flowers was terrific on the edge and Lawrence Guy and Malcom Brown were stout inside. Flowers had a sack, a tackle for a loss and two QB hits. Guy split a sack with John Simon.  Adam Butler came on in passing downs and helped push the pocket.

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots much-maligned linebacking corps had another big day. Kyle Van Noy was outstanding, making plays all over the field. He had a pair of sacks, six QB pressures, and five run stops. He was a pain in the ass for the Chiefs offensive line all night.

Dont’a Hightower had another strong game playing 100 percent of the snaps and providing some pressure up the middle. John Simon saw more snaps than Elandon Roberts and had another under the radar strong game. He had a half-sack, and three QB pressures.

Secondary: A-

Wait you say. They gave up 31 points and 24 in the fourth quarter??? Well, look at the job that the secondary did on shutting down Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Those two combined for just four catches for 65 yards. No one held them under 100 yards all season and the Patriots did it in Arrowhead. Hill was doubled by Jonathan Jones/Keion Crossen with outstanding help over the top by Devin McCourty. Big Mac was terrific.

Sammy Watkins had 4 catches for 114 yards but his big one, 54-yarder was one play where Mahomes had all day to throw and Watkins finally shook free from Stephon Gilmore. The Pats moved Gilmore over to Kelce in the second half and he smothered him.

Rookie J.C. Jackson was the victim of several flags and was beat by Kelce (with a push off) for a touchdown.

Special Teams: A-

The only potential bad play was the almost muff by Edelman on a bouncing punt. It was a near and potentially game changer. But Edelman was very good in the punt return game returning three for 38 yards. Patterson had three kick returns for 80 yards including a nice 38 yarder. The coverage units did a much better job time around.  Ryan Allen was solid and Stephen Gostkowski hit a difficult 47-yard field goal considering the conditions.

Coaching: A+

Bill Belichick had an absolutely masterful game plan and the players executed it flawlessly in the first half. The Chiefs were shut out at home for the first time all season and they held them to just 32 yards of offense. They would adjust and finally explode with a huge fourth quarter but that allowed the Patriots to play with the lead all game.

Josh McDaniels called another strong game. He knew where the Chiefs’ weaknesses were and the Patriots offense rolled up 524 yards while having a more than double time of possession advantage (43:50 to 20:53).

Brian Flores called another very good game as the Patriots defense held Kansas City to under 300 yards of total offense. Penalties hurt but those are part of the game. We’re on to Atlanta and Super Bowl 53.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as our writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Brady Engineers OT Drive To Lift Patriots in 37-31 Win Over KC

Steve Balestrieri
January 21, 2019 at 6:00 am ET

Patriots Heading to Atlanta For Super Bowl

It all came down to the coin flip. The Patriots and Chiefs battled like two heavyweight boxers for 60 minutes with each landing haymakers in the fourth quarter leaving the other battered and wobbly but still standing. It would go down to overtime. And there was little doubt that whoever got the ball first was going to score and move on.

And it just so happened that the Patriots won the toss and Matthew Slater emphatically told the referee, “We Want the Ball!” Once again Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman worked their magic to lift the Patriots to the Super Bowl. The only way to ensure the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t score in OT was to not let them touch the ball. And that is exactly what they did. Rex Burkhead actually did the honors, running it in easily from the two-yard line but the three veterans came up huge in key third downs in the overtime.

But while we focused on the exhilarating fourth quarter, it would ignore another coaching gem from Bill Belichick. Belichick and the Patriots have faced the league’s top offense in the postseason five times and their record is now 4-1.

Faced with a team that can literally score at any place on the field and was outscoring opponents at home 49-0 in the first quarter, the Patriots could not afford to fall behind like that on the road in that stadium. So Belichick the coach showed why he is still the master at game planning going against his good friend Andy Reid who loves to script an early way to get his offense rolling.

The Patriots took the opening kickoff and stunned the crowd and the Chiefs defense by holding onto the ball for eight minutes before Sony Michel scored from the one-yard line. The Pats had already taken the Chiefs out of their game and they hounded and confused QB Pat Mahomes in the first half. Belichick essentially snuffed the Chiefs fast-break offense into a plodding half-court game.

They brought tremendous pressure up the A-Gap and unlike the first game in New England, this time they were getting home. The Patriots sacked Mahomes three times in the first half for 42 yards. Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower were getting in Mahomes face.

They did it by taking away the Chiefs two biggest weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce and made the Chiefs try to win with their secondary players…they almost did. But Hill had one catch for 42 yards which went for naught and Kelce had a quiet three catches for 23 yards.

The Patriots held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half to the Chiefs 8:53, They outgained the Chiefs 245 to just 32 and led 14-0 at the break and if not for a bad and uncharacteristic mistake by Brady at the KC one-yard line, may have put the Chiefs away in the first half.

On third and goal from the one, Brady play-actioned passed to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, but he threw short and Reggie Ragland intercepted him and the Chiefs got the ball at the 20.

The Patriots would score just 27 seconds before the half when Brady engineered a nice drive that began at the Patriots 10-yard line and covered 90 yards and began with 3:08 remaining. The big play was a huge 30-yard screen pass to James White that set them up at the KC 38 with 41 seconds left. On second and one from the 29, Brady threw a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Phillip Dorsett for a 29-yard touchdown.

But just like in New England in Week 6, the Chiefs offense awoke in the second half. On their opening drive, they faced a third and two from their 32. Mahomes had all day to throw and Sammy Watkins eventually slipped past Stephon Gilmore and Mahomes delivered a strike for 54-yards. On the next snap, he hit Kelce who got away with a push off at the five and the Chiefs were on the board and in business.

After holding the Chiefs deep inside their zone and forcing a punt, Julian Edelman returned it 13 yards to the KC 37. But the Patriots would only get eight yards on the ensuing drive and Stephen Gostkowski boomed a 47-yard field goal which, in those conditions was hardly a sure thing.

Kelce then got an iffy pass interference call on J.C. Jackson on third down on the ensuing KC drive at the Patriots 14 which put the ball on the one. Mahomes hit Damien Williams for a one-yard score to make it 17-14.

The Patriots drove to the Chiefs 25 but on fourth and one, Burkhead was stuffed by Daniel Sorensen. The teams traded punts and then disaster struck. After nearly muffing the punt at the 26, Julian Edelman let a Brady pass bounce off his hands and right into the hands of Sorensen who returned it to the NE 23. That set off a wild sequence of events to finish the game in regulation.

Two plays later, Mahomes hit Williams with a beautifully designed pass play where he scored easily from 23-yards to give the Chiefs the lead at 21-17. Brady went to work taking the Patriots another 75 yards for a score.

Facing a 3rd and 8 from the NE 45, Chris Hogan made a diving stab at the ball where he got it tucked in the crook of his arm and fell to the turf for a gain of 11. The play was challenged but upheld which would cost Reid and the Chiefs a valuable time out.

Burkhead had a run of 14 and Gronkowski got them back down inside the red zone with a catch for 11 before Sony Michel burst up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown. The Patriots had the lead back 24-21 with just 3:32 left in the game.

The Patriots had a turnover reversed when a Kelce fumble and recovery by Hightower was erased by a holding call on Jackson, who would then get hit with another pass interference penalty. From the NE 40, Mahomes then hit Watkins with a 38-yard pass play down to the NE 2. Williams rolled in for his third touchdown of the game to put the Chiefs back up 28-24 with 2:03 left.

Brady began the drive with a 20-yard BB to Edelman down the middle. On 3rd and 10, Brady was picked off but Dee Ford lined up offside, giving the Patriots new life. On 3rd and 5, Brady delivered a huge play to Gronkowski down the left sideline for 25 yards to the Chiefs four. On first and goal, Burkhead burst in from the four and the Patriots once again took the lead 31-28 (our prediction) with just 39 ticks left.

It would be more than enough for Mahomes to tie it up. First, he hit Spencer  Ware for 21-yards, then he delivered a 27 yarder to Demarcus Robinson with just 16 seconds left. A pass was overthrown out of bounds into the end zone where Harrison Butker kicked a 39-yard field goal to tie the wild fourth quarter up with just 8 seconds to go.

In overtime, Brady showed why you should never count the Patriots out. Facing a third and 10 from the 35, he hit Edelman with a huge 20-yard pass play where he took a big hit after coming down with the ball. The Patriots faced another big 3rd and 10 from the KC 45 and once again it was Edelman with a big catch for 15 yards down to the 30.

Once again, on 3rd and 10, Brady hit Gronkowski for 15 yards down to the Chiefs 15 and that old familiar feeling was creeping in that the Patriots were going to end this. Burkhead sliced up the middle for 10 yards down to the five. On first down, he carried to the two and on second down he easily powered in for the touchdown and the Patriots were going to their third Super Bowl in a row and their 5th in six years.

To look at the stat sheet, you’d have thought that this game was a blowout. New England outgained KC 524 to 290, had 36 first downs to 18 for the Chiefs, held the ball for 43:59 to the Chiefs just 20:53. The Patriots ran 94 plays to just 47 for KC.

The offensive line once again turned in an outstanding performance, the team ran for 176 yards of which Sony Michel ran 29 times for 113 yards and two TDs Burkhead carried 12 times for 41 yards and two TDs. Brady wasn’t sacked once and completed 30-46 for 348 yards with one score and the two picks. Edelman had seven catches for 96 yards. Gronkowski had six catches for 79 yards and was immense in the running game.

Mahomes finished 16-31 for 295 yards and 3 TDs but the four sacks he suffered put them back 46 yards. The Chiefs running game managed just 41 yards on 12 carries. Watkins had a big day with 114 yards on four catches.

This was a scrap that the Patriots got off to a big lead, and then had to claw and scratch their way to a huge victory on the road where the #1 seed and the home team was favored. And to do so, they got fantastic performances by Belichick, Brady, Edelman, Gronkowski, and Michel.

After all the questioning of this team seemingly all season, they are on their way to another Super Bowl. We’re on to Atlanta.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Patriots 2016 Opponents, Bills Are Coming in Banged Up

Steve Balestrieri
October 26, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Ryan Turned Around Season, Can They Maintain It?

The Patriots go back out on the road to take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV.

The Patriots (6-1), beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-16 and currently have the best record in the AFC. Tom Brady threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards and two scores. Malcolm Butler had an interception and three passes broken up.

The Bills (4-3), lost to the Miami Dolphins 28-25 as the Fins made a furious 4th Qtr comeback, to take the game away from Buffalo who had an 11-point lead. LeSean McCoy reinjured his hamstring in the game and was held out in the second half. The Bills had one won four in a row and with a loss in South Beach lost a chance to be playing for the division lead this weekend. Rex Ryan up to this point hasn’t had the usual bombastic quotes coming into this game but it is still early in the week.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Bills:

McCoy’s Status Up in the Air This Week: Regardless of what was put out this week in Miami, obviously, RB LeSean McCoy reinjured his hamstring. He first hurt it in practice a week ago but then attempted to play thru it in Miami. The Bills  reported that he felt some pain and they shut him down, but that it wasn’t a re-injury. The smart move would have been to sit him for Miami and be ready to face the Patriots. Now after just eight carries against the Fins, his status for the Patriots won’t likely be known until game time.

He’s the guy that makes the Bills offense go, he is a very talented runner who is also dangerous out of the backfield in the passing game. The Bills are a ground and pound team and are second in the NFL with 152.3 yards per game average, The Cowboys lead the league with 161.2. But it is McCoy who drives the train. His 598 yards on the ground and a 5.3 yard per carry average lead the team.

While Tyrod Taylor and Mike Gillislee are talented runners they aren’t the game breakers that McCoy is. Especially considering his versatility as a pass receiver and how slippery he is to bring down. The last game in Foxboro was a testament to that.

Taylor is the Wildcard but Still Not “The Guy” at QB: Tyrod Taylor was given a big contract extension (6 years, $92 Million), this spring but with the exception of the week against the Patriots where he threw for 246 yards and a touchdown, he hasn’t performed like a franchise QB. Like we mentioned above, the Bills are primarily a running team, but if they’re going to take the next step and become a playoff team, they’ll need a QB who can at least occasionally put the team on his shoulders at crunch time.

So far, Taylor hasn’t been that guy. With the score either tied or within one possession in the fourth quarter, Taylor’s record is 2-7. In those games, his 4th quarter completion percentage is just 45.2, with two touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 50.3. Those aren’t franchise QB numbers.

Taylor is an exciting and at times dangerous player, especially when he gets free and can make plays with his legs. He throws an excellent deep ball but is still iffy when forced to throw from the pocket and using the middle of the field. The Patriots treated him like Russell Wilson in the first meeting and took a very passive approach. That cost them dearly. Don’t expect that kind of mistake again.

The Bills will have an interesting decision to make in the spring. Will they kick in their team option for $15.9 million against the cap for Taylor for 2017? There is still a long way to go in the season. However, if they remain the #31 team in throwing the ball, averaging just 175 yards a game…they may decide to pass.

Zach Brown Will Be the Player to Watch on Defense: The Bills defense has been going thru a resurgence since the Jets game and the big story has been Lorenzo Alexander who has nine sacks thru the first seven games.  While the 33-year old Alexander is making the splashes, the guy the Patriots should account for would be LB Zach Brown.

Brown was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week when the two teams met a month ago. He made 18 tackles, had a sack and forced two fumbles. He was all over the field and was the best player for either team on the field that day. He’s the fourth rated linebacker in the league according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). He’s up there guys like Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, and the Pats’ Jamie Collins

The Patriots could only gain 90 yards on the ground against the Bills in Foxboro. They’ll be looking to do much better in that department this time around. The first guy that they’ll have to account for is Brown. He was never known as a playmaker before this season but is enjoying a big breakout season.

Who’s on First? Bills WRs Hit Hard by Injury: The Bills skill-position players are being bitten by an injury bug epidemic right now. Sammy Watkins is already on IR with a foot issue, he’s their best receiver. Greg Salas, ditto. Robert Woods is their best WR on the roster right now and has 25 catches, 240 yards, and a touchdown. But he’s been bothered by a sore foot all season, it caught up with him last week and he missed the Miami game.

Marquise Goodwin is the Buffalo deep threat, the former Olympic hopeful has 12 catches for 258 yards, good for a 21.5-yard average and three touchdowns. But right now, he’s in the concussion protocol after last week’s game in Miami. He went up for a deep ball and as he fell to the turf, he hit his head hard and appeared to briefly lose consciousness.

With Watkins on IR until at least early November, and Woods in a walking boot a week ago, Goodwin in the concussion protocol, that leaves the Bills with, for now, only three healthy wide receivers, Justin Hunter, Brandon Tate, and Walt Powell. On Tuesday, the Bills elevated Ed Eagan from the practice squad to the active roster. They’ll  hope that Woods will be able to make it back on the field this week.

Special Teams Units Have Questions: The Patriots aren’t the only ones with a Special Teams’ unit that is struggling. The Bills, normally one of the NFL’s best STs’ units have been scuffling along as well. Dan Carpenter has missed two field goals (9-11), and two extra points (20-22). Their punting unit with Colton Schmidt is about in the middle of the road in terms of net punting average.

But in Miami, they had a strong game. Returner Brandon Tate returned a punt 30 yards, his second return of 30+ yards on the season.  Schmidt had a punt downed at the one-yard line and the Bills blocked a punt in the 2nd quarter. Their coverage units have been solid, especially the punt coverage unit. They’re allowing only 3.2 yards per punt return.

Like New England, they’ve been good in their kickoff coverage unit as well. They’re allowing only 19 yards per kickoff return. This one may come down to special teams and both teams could use a boost from the specialty units.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Bills Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 30, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

The New England Patriots will play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

The game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (3-0) defeated the Houston Texans 27-0 on Thursday Night Football. LaGarrette Blount ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns while Jacoby Brissett played well in his first NFL start. The defense didn’t allow Houston to cross midfield until there just a minute and a half left in the first quarter. The STs units forced two turnovers.

The Bills (1-2) beat the Arizona Cardinals 33-18 on Sunday in Buffalo. LeSean McCoy got the running game going with 110 yards and two TDs with QB Tyrod Taylor adding 76 more yards on the ground. The Bills defense sacked Carson Palmer five times and forced four interceptions in the second half.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 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.

Series History:
The Patriots and Bills will meet for the 113th time in their history and the first of two divisional matchups in 2016. The Patriots have dominated  the series holding a 69-42-1 edge overall. But Gillette Stadium hasn’t been a welcome site for the Bills with the Pats winning 12 of 13 with the only Buffalo win being the 2014 regular season finale with many of the Patriots starters sitting or playing very reduced roles.

The Patriots swept the Bills a year ago, winning 40-32 in Week 2 in Buffalo and 20-13 in a wild Monday Night Football game that was marked by an inadvertent whistle when he appeared to have a clear path to the end zone. Buffalo also stopped the Patriots string of scoring in 38 straight quarters by blanking them in the 4th quarter of that game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots Fourth And Two Opposition Preview: Mike Rodak From ESPN

Russ Goldman
June 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm ET

In this interview Steve Balestrieri talked to Mike Rodak who covers the Buffalo Bills for ESPN. He gave Steve a first look on the team heading into Training Camp this July.

Patriots – Bills, Who Has the Razor’s Edge? Key MNF Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
November 20, 2015 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return home for a Monday Night Football matchup against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. The game will be televised by ESPN and will have their normal crew of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden on the call. The game will also be carried on the radio by the Patriots flagship station of 98.5 the Sportshub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

The Patriots (9-0) beat the New York Giants 27-26 on a last second 54-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. Tom Brady threw for 193 yards in the fourth quarter as the Pats came back from a ten-point deficit. The big play of the drive was the 4th and 10 pass from the 20-yard line to Danny Amendola that got the team moving.

The Bills (5-4) beat the New York Jets 22-17 on Thursday Night Football. The Bills have won two divisional games in a row, having beaten Miami before that and are looking for a trifecta. Buffalo is in great position for a playoff spot in 2015 and needs to continue to play well to get to the post season, something the Bills haven’t seen in 15 years.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our  “Razor’s Edge”  column in 2015 to give a quick break down on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Bills have met 111 times with the Patriots holding a 68-42-1 overall edge in the series. In recent years the Patriots have dominated Buffalo with Tom Brady holding a 24-3 edge overall against the Bills. The last meeting was won by the Patriots back in September during Week 2. The Patriots had a 37-13 lead after three quarters  before the Bills had a 4th quarter comeback that fell short 40-32.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2015 Opponents, Next Five Impressions of the Bills

Steve Balestrieri
November 18, 2015 at 6:12 am ET

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.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.