When was the last time we can definitively say that a game against the Buffalo Bills this time of year was a “BIG” game. I cannot remember a time when in recent memory when a game against the long time AFC rivals was this big.
You know what’s at stake. If the Patriots win, they win the AFC East and get one step closer to securing the number two seed in the AFC. If the Bills win, win next week and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins, they win the AFC East. Needless to say, the stakes are high.
Here are five keys to the game.
1. Handle their pressure up front: The Bills do a great job of getting pressure and forcing opposing quarterbacks into bad decisions. The struggling Patriots offensive line will have their hands full against this talented and active front seven. Communication in blitz pick up and getting the ball out quick will be key today for the Patriots.
2. Set disciplined edges against Josh Allen: Bills quarterback Josh Allen can make plays as a runner and as a passer. Allen is especially dangerous when things break down and he can extend plays. The Patriots defensive ends and outside linebackers need to set a hard edge and be disciplined. They cannot get caught looking inside and losing contain.
3. Be careful with Tre’Davious White: White has been tremendous for the Bills this season. He is a terrific man to man cover who can match up and carry routes vertically or under cut them underneath. Tom Brady has to be careful throwing in his direction. Especially because White will more than likely spend most of the game matching up with Julian Edelman.
4. Special teams are key: Both teams need to play well in all three phases in order win. Special teams will be Joey today. Buffalo has an advantage in the return game but neither kicker has been good in recent weeks. Special teams will be important today. They could be the difference between winning and losing this game.
5. Play complementary football: The passing game has been an issue for the Patriots throughout this season. Whether it’s Brady’s elbow, the receivers or the offensive line, the Patriots passing game just doesn’t cut the mustard.
If the Patriots are to win today, the passing game must complement the running game. New England needs to be balanced. It is the only way the offense can get back on track.
Final score: Patriots 24 Bills 17: Expect a tight game between these two long time rivals. Buffalo is good but I have a hard time believing that they ready to come into Foxboro and win a division. I just don’t see it happening. I like the Patriots in a close game.