STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
QB Tyrod Taylor's 77 passes are the fewest of any quarterback who has started three games this season.
RB LeSean McCoy, who had 110 rushing yards against the Cardinals, ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing with 227 yards.
RB/PR Reggie Bush did not play last week, and he has been on the field for only six snaps this season.
WR Marquise Goodwin has scored only four touchdowns in his NFL career, but the average length of the scores in 56.5 yards.
S Aaron Williams scored the first touchdown of his six-year NFL career, although it came on special teams, as he scooped a bad long snap and ran 53 yards to the end zone against Arizona.
LB Preston Brown totaled 20 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in two games against the Patriots last year.
LB Zach Brown leads the Bills 34 tackles and that ties him for the NFL lead.
K Dan Carpenter remains the Bills' all-time leader in field goal accuracy (88.5 percent) with only 12 misses in 105 attempts, but he has missed seven extra points since the line was pushed back to the 33.
T Cyrus Koaundjio sat out practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury and he may be questionable for the Patriots game.
OL Michael Ola was signed off the Giants practice squad, mostly as insurance because both Cordy Glenn and Cyrus Kouandjio are slowed by ankle injuries.
TE Charles Clay continues to be bothered by a sore knee and he did not practice Wednesday.
Much will depend on the health of WR Sammy Watkins regarding what the Bills will see from New England's defense. If Watkins is out again, you can be sure that coach Bill Belichick will concentrate on taking RB LeSean McCoy out of Buffalo's attack and make Tyrod Taylor try to beat the Patriots through the air, a proposition that seems almost impossible. Without Watkins, the Bills probably won't have a choice but to try to establish McCoy which they did successfully last week as McCoy gained 110 of Buffalo's 208 rushing yards.
Also up in the air will be how the Bills play defense because they aren't sure who's playing quarterback for the Patriots, Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett. Garoppolo starting opens up the entire Patriots offense, which creates problems for the Bills because they have historically struggled against the Patriots' short passing game. If it's Brissett, the Bills can take a few more chances with their blitz packages and try to rattle the raw rookie. Garoppolo's not exactly an established player, but he'd be better equipped to deal with pressure than Brissett.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bills LB Zach Brown. When Brown signed as a free agent in the offseason after four years with the Titans, it was thought he would be a third-down linebacker and a special teams player. However, with rookie second-round pick Reggie Ragland out for the season, Brown has stepped up as a starter next to Preston Brown in the middle of the 3-4 scheme, and he has far exceeded expectations. He's the Bills' best coverage linebacker, and even more impressive, he's tied for the NFL lead in tackles with 34.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Bills CB Nickell Robey-Coleman vs. Patriots WR Julian Edelman. Robey-Coleman is the slot corner in Buffalo's sub package, and he will be assigned in several situations to contain Edelman. Edelman thrives in the short to intermediate range, and in the last three games he has played against the Bills, he has 25 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Bills RB LeSean McCoy vs. Patriots LB Jamie Collins. McCoy will be the key to the Bills' attack if WR Sammy Watkins can't play. That was also the case last week against Arizona, and the Bills used FB Jerome Felton and an extra offensive lineman, David Groy, in a tight end role, to help run the ball. Their "jumbo" package was one of the reasons why McCoy gained 110 yards and scored twice. Collins has been the Patriots' best player on defense. In addition to two interceptions and a sack, he also leads New England with 23 tackles.