Ah, Bills week. Everyone’s favorite coaching brothers are coming into Foxboro hoping to give the New England Patriots their first loss of the season.
To be honest, I used to find Rex Ryan particularly amusing. His random, odd quips about the Patriots and Bill Belichick added a level of reality TV flair that made playing the Jets just a little more exciting. However, after eight years of the same old stuff, I think I can speak for most people when I say it’s gotten rather exhausting and repetitive. Every year, the Jets (and for the past two years, the Bills) would pull off an impressive win, and Rex would spend the entire week taking jabs at the Patriots and their head coach. Then, more often then not, New England would win, and Rex would be real quiet in his post-game press conference. Yet despite history, and despite the fact that since Rex has been a head coach the Patriots have been to five conference championships, and two Superbowls, he still feels the need to make snide remarks. It’s all just a little bit tiring at this point.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do think Rex is an excellent defensive coach (much better than his brother is). He has routinely caused the Patriots’ offense headaches. I just think he lacks the mindset to be an NFL head coach.
The Bills have been all over the place this season. On offense, they have gone from abysmal to great, to good, and on defense they have gone from good, to atrocious, to average. It’s been a wildly inconsistent three games for them. Their most recent game against the Arizona Cardinals was a statement win for them, because despite the Cardinals’ struggles so far this season, they are still one of the most talented teams in the league. The Bills and Rex Ryan desperately needed a win, and managed to secure a convincing one behind a strong run game and impressive defensive play.
The Patriots will have an interesting time against Rex’s team in the last game before Tom Brady’s return:
The Bills defense poses an interesting problem for the Patriots, in that New England won’t know which defense is going to show up. It could be the one that held the Cardinals to just 18 points, or the one that gave up 37 points to the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Jets. Thankfully, the Patriots shouldn’t have any questions at the quarterback position, as Adam Schefter reported that both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are set to be ready for the game. Garoppolo’s return means the passing game will be much more active than in week three against Houston. The Bills secondary has some very good players, like Stephon Gilmore, who can cause some problems for the Patriots receivers. Josh McDaniels will most likely combat this with more crossing and seam routes to the tight ends.
Garoppolo should also benefit from the presence of Rob Gronkowski. Gronk returned last week against Houston, but only played limited minutes due to his continued recovery from a hamstring injury. I would guess that his workload should increase this week after extra time off.
The biggest key to the game will be the offensive line. So far this year they have been a force, propelling LeGarrette Blount to 298 yards over the first three games, as well as only allowing Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett to be sacked a total of five times. The presence of Dante Scarnecchia has made a drastic difference in the play of the offensive line, and I am looking for continued improvements. They are facing a formidable opponent that managed to sack Carson Palmer five times last week. If they can keep Garoppolo standing, the offense should be able to move the ball down the field and put points up on the board.
Matt Patricia and the Patriots should have fun in this game. The Bills have scored 30+ points over their last two games behind a strong running game. They have amassed over 350 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, mostly between LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. However, while their running game has been stellar, their passing game has been almost nonexistent. Tyrod Taylor is only averaging about 175 passing yards per game, which is near the bottom of the league. The Patriots will use this to their advantage by dialing up heavy pressure through blitzes all game. They will aim to force Tyrod Taylor into throwing the ball, rather than doing what he excels at which is running the football. The Patriots defensive line, behind Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard, has been outstanding so far this season getting pressure on the quarterback. Jamie Collins has also been a force, causing disruptions in the backfield. If Dont’a Hightower returns as well, the Bills offensive line will be in for a long day.
The Bills will be running high after their win against Arizona. However, the Patriots are coming off a statement underdog win, and got extra rest and time to prepare. I believe their energy level will be high as they look to start the season 4-0 behind Tom Brady.
Patriots 33 Bills 22
Until next time- B$