As the NFL season winds down toward its halfway point, the Buffalo Bills are a team still searching for their true identity, with mixed results coming over the course of their first seven games. Josh Allen has thrown for a bunch of yards and touchdowns, but has been bit by the turnover bug as of late, resulting in some struggles on offense.
On the other side of the matchup, the New England Patriots are coming off of three straight losses, the most recent of which was an absolute thrashing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. Cam Newton hasn’t looked the same, and neither has the team.
This is still a crucial AFC East matchup with a lot on the line. We will look at the strengths, weaknesses, matchups and weather outlook for this week’s game:
The Buffalo passing game has been strong, to say the least, overall this season, ranking 6th in the league in passing yards per game. Josh Allen already has 16 touchdowns this season, after throwing 20 all of last season, and is on track to obliterate his numbers from last season across the board. It is easy to say that he is growing as a quarterback and has a much better feel for the game.
Although the offense has had its struggles the last few games, not even scoring a touchdown against the lowly Jets, they still rank amongst the best in the league. That may not matter on Sunday, with the impending weather forecast, but in this matchup, it is certainly an advantage.
Albeit not much of a strength in this matchup, comparatively to the Patriots, the Bills have this category as a strength. The strategy is likely going to be stuffing the box with as many defenders as possible, and stifling the run to force Newton to throw the ball. This strategy would have worked against the Tennessee Titans, had Ryan Tannehill not been able to make some throws. The defense did shut Derrick Henry down and forced Tannehill to throw; however, it ended up working in the Titans’ favor.
This game should be different, as the weather is going to force a completely different game. The running game is going to be critical for both teams, and New England has the edge in productivity in the ground game. However, the Bills have been a bit better at stuffing the run. So, advantage Buffalo.
The Bills have absolutely struggled to get their ground game going this season outside of Allen taking some runs himself. It is not for lack of talent in the backfield, as Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are more than capable backs; the run blocking has been so poor this season among the front line. Quinton Spain (now a member of the Bengals), Cody Ford, and Mitch Morse were expected to headline the interior offensive line that was solid last season, but that has not come to fruition. Overall, the line is struggling to get push up front and open holes.
Jon Feliciano should be back, and he brings a level of tenaciousness and toughness that is needed on this offensive line. One has to hope that he can help spark this offensive line and get the ground game going. I have said, for weeks, the Bills offense will begin to have issues if they cannot get the running game going.
The Bills are about a middle-of-the-pack pass defense, a far cry from what was a strength last season. With the Patriots missing Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, that only helps the pass defense. Tre White is arguably one of the top corners in the game, but has had some struggles this season. In fairness, they have had some injuries and bad luck, but this defense expects more, and so do the fans.
It is going to be a blustery day in Western New York, with winds blowing up to 22 MPH and rain in the forecast. This is not really surprising for this area at this time of year. Heck, there was even snow on Friday! Expect a lot of ground-and-pound in this one.
Bills OL vs. Patriots front-seven: Buffalo needs to get push in the run game.
Josh Allen vs. Patriots Secondary: New England may not be very good, but their secondary is still one of the best in football.
This one will be ugly just like winters in Western New York. The deciding factor is going to be Josh Allen’s arm strength and being able to make some throws in the wind. He will make just enough of them.
Score: Bills 23, Patriots 17
(Featured Image Credit: BuffaloBills.com)