STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
LB Zach Brown continues to lead the NFL with 74 tackles, 51 of which are solo stops. He also has two sacks and two forced fumbles.
LB Lorenzo Alexander has a sack in seven straight games, the longest streak for a Bill since Bruce Smith did it in 1986-87. Alexander's streak is the first to occur in one season.
DT Marcell Dareus is hoping to return to practice this week and play in his first game of the season Sunday.
KR Brandon Tate has 276 kickoff return yards and 130 punt return yards.
QB Tyrod Taylor leads the NFL in rushing yards by a quarterback with 271, and his 5.79 yards per rushing attempt leads the entire NFL.
WR Marquise Goodwin is in concussion protocol and will not practice Wednesday. There's a chance he won't be able to play Sunday.
LB Shaq Lawson played 14 snaps in his NFL debut last week and was in on one tackle. Rex Ryan said his workload will gradually increase each week.
RB LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday and was receiving treatment on his injured hamstring.
S Aaron Williams did not practice Wednesday after suffering hand and neck injuries last week because of a cheap shot crack-back block. His status for the game is uncertain.
What comes around goes around for the Bills. In the first meeting with New England, the Patriots were without Tom Brady and they also had a barely functional Rob Gronkowski. Brady and Gronk are back and flying high for the rematch, and it's the Bills who are going to be short-handed. RB LeSean McCoy's status will be up in the air all week, as will WRs Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. If McCoy is out, or as limited as he was last week, the Bills have huge problems, and they'll be exacerbated if Woods and Goodwin are in the same situation out or limited. Buffalo's offense might not be able to do anything against a motivated, revenge-seeking Patriots team that lost 16-0 to Buffalo four weeks ago.
Defensively, the Bills might be without safety Aaron Williams, which won't help in their coverage of Gronkowski and the other tight end, Martellus Bennett. The Patriots have their full offensive arsenal, they are clicking on all cylinders, and this does not bode well for the Bills. The only way it will be possible for the Bills to slow down the Patriots will be to turn the pass rush loose and get pressure on Brady, and somehow create turnovers. The Bills are second in the league in takeaway-giveaway at plus-8, they lead the league in red zone defense and they're fourth in sacks per pass attempt, but they haven't seen an offense like this.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Wide receiver/kick returner WR/KR Brandon Tate. The former Patriots player was signed just before the start of the regular season and he has made an immediate impact in Buffalo. Tate has become a mainstay on Buffalo's special teams and he made some big plays in the Bills' loss at Miami. His 30-yard punt return set up Buffalo's first score; he had a 25-yard kickoff return; and he made an athletic play to down a Colton Schmidt punt at the 1-yard-line in the third quarter. He even contributed two catches for 31 yards when pressed into duty on offense. Tate has been the Bills' primary kickoff and punt returner all season and is proving to be another nice veteran pickup by Doug Whaley and the personnel staff.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Bills LBs vs. Patriots TEs. Quite frankly, this might not be a matchup as much as it is a mis-matchup. Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett are as dominant a duo as there is in the league, and they can create nightmares for the opposing defense because there just aren't enough resources to deal with them. The Bills will have their hands full with WRs Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan, so Bill Belichick can get Gronkowski and Bennett into several advantageous matchups against the likes of Preston Brown and Zach Brown, and safety Corey Graham.
Bills RBs vs. Patriots LBs. The Bills' passing game is almost nonexistent, so their only chance to succeed is to run the ball effectively. The problem is that LeSean McCoy will be questionable with a hamstring injury, so Mike Gillislee and Reggie Bush might have to shoulder the burden. New England's Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Rob Ninkovich are a dynamic threesome, and if all they have to worry about is stopping the run, it'll be a long day for the Bills unless McCoy miraculously returns to 100 percent.