The Buffalo Bills (1-2) head into Gillette Stadium Sunday coming off one of the most impressive wins of the Rex Ryan era defeating the Arizona Cardinals 33-18. The Cards came into Buffalo as heavy favorites and left a beaten team, in just about every way.
This weekend the Bills are once again underdogs but for many reasons. The Bills haven’t won at New England since Nov. 5, 2000 (16-13 OT). The Pats (3-0) have dominated the Bills the past two decades winning thirty-two games, nineteen by 10 or more points. Granted, most of the lopsided victories came against Tom Brady, who will miss this game due to a 4-game suspension (deflategate).
Then there is the coaching match-up, Ryan is 4-9 vs Bill Belichick (0-2 with Bills).
The Bills are dealing with injuries and suspensions and an 0-2 league record. The Pats (without Brady) haven’t lost. All signs point to another New England win.
Then again, that’s why they play the games. Not too many people gave Rex and the Bills much of a chance last weekend. This game and rivalry however will be watched much more closely. This game is under the microscope, for the most obvious of reason Rex Ryan and his mouth. At the beginning of the week Ryan did an impression of Belichick that didn’t go well then on Wednesday while Buffalo media was conducting a conference call with Julian Edelman, Ryan interrupted:
Rex Ryan, aka Walt Patalksi from the Buffalo News, pops in on Julian Edelman’s conference call pic.twitter.com/PbWNCAo7FF
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) September 28, 2016
Typical Rex. Having his fun now, taking pressure off the players and putting it all on himself. That’s most likely why his guys run through the wall for him. It’s also the reason why some fans despise him.
Sammy Watkins was out last week and has not been on the field all week. His status vs Pats is highly questionable. Marcel Dareus is serving his 4th game of a four-game suspension.
This game falls squarely on Tyrod Taylor’s shoulders. LeSean McCoy had an impressive performance against the Cards, who have a stout defense. Bruce Arians is no Belichick. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that New England will force Taylor to throw, much like they did in week 2 last season.
The Pats are going with Jimmy Garoppolo who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. he took reps Thursday along with Jacoby Brissett who sustained a thumb injury last week in Houston.
Nevertheless, I suspect the Bills defensive unit to continue playing well. Except for the week two choke versus the NY Jets, the Bills defense has been fearsome. Credit to Rex and even brother Rob for holding it together, despite the injuries and the Dareus suspension.
Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes have three sacks each while Stephon Gilmore has picked off two passes.
I expect a low scoring game.
Keys for Buffalo:
- Time of Possession
- Stay Disciplined
- Win the Turnover Battle
The Bills defense needs to get in the Pats backfield and force Garoppolo out of the pocket. LeGarrette Blount has had big days against Buffalo. He’s running behind an offensive line that helped produce back-to-back 100 yard games.
Out for New England is Rob Ninkovich who like Dareus is out with suspension. Dont’a Hightower is nursing a knee and is listed as out.
Keys for New England
- Establish the Run
- Keep Taylor in the Pocket, Force Him to Throw
- Let Bills Beat Themselves
Rain is expected.
New England 19-6