Patriots-Bills Week 4 Preview

Patriots-Bills Week 4 Preview

Overview

By Jon Scott Buffalo

It’s a tradition unlike any other. Twice a season, Bills fans are thrown an incredible amount of stats and facts telling them what they already are well aware of: The New England Patriots absolutely have owned this team.

I’ll give you the Cliff Notes for this time around.​

  • ​The Patriots are 33-5 against the Bills since the 2000 season, Bill Belichick’s 1st as head coach
  • Tom Brady is ​30-3 all-time against the Bills (Most wins against any opponent)

Can this Sunday be different from most of the past two decades? It is 3-0 vs. 3-0. The last time the Bills reached 3-0 was in 2011 after one of the three Brady defeats. Last time this franchise was 4-0? 2008.

Let’s check out what stands in the way of accomplishing that again.

Back in the Backfield?

Devin Singletary is listed as questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury. He showed positive signs by being limited in practice Thursday and Friday. When healthy, Singletary has been very effective in limited work, with 127 rushing yards on just 10 carries. Adding him to the arsenal for Brian Daboll to use against a stout Patriots defense would be big.

That said, Frank Gore showed last weekend against the Bengals that there is still plenty in the tank. 

Gore, 36, has 164 yards on 44 carries — the most by someone his age through three games in NFL history. Of course, how many running backs extend their career to 36! I’ll admit, some of the bursts he had against Cincinnati surprised me. As you would imagine, though, Gore did not surprise himself.

Allen’s Second Chance

​Josh Allen only faced the Patriots once during his rookie season. He finished 20-41 for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Allen added 30 yards rushing on five attempts. Those 41 attempts remain a career high.

As Sean McDermott said earlier this week, Belichick makes teams “play left handed” by taking away their biggest strength. For Allen, running the ball was his biggest threat, so the Patriots made the rookie try and beat them with his arm.

Despite the amount of throws, the production wasn’t there. While I imagine containing Allen in the pocket will remain a heavy part of the Pats game plan, he has shown through three games he is capable of being effective through the air.

Through three games, Allen has thrown at least 30 passes in each while completing just over 64 percent. This is no doubt the toughest test yet, as New England’s defense is far and away best in the NFL so far, allowing just 162.3 passing yards a game, including 4.51 yards per pass.

Protection Plan

​Allen may be mobile, but the offensive line needs to do a better job at keeping the pocket clean. This won’t be easy with New England tied for tops in the NFL with 13 sack. Four players have at least two sacks through three games, all ranking top 12 in the league — Jamie Collins and Adam Butler with 2.5 each and Chase Winovich and Michael Bennett with two each.

Jon Feliciano has been limited in practice with a neck injury that caused him to leave last Sunday’s game. Cody Ford filled in well, but has been rotating with Ty Nsekhe at right tackle all three games. Overall, the Bills offensive line ranks 18th in the NFL according the Pro Football Focus.

Brady Being Brady

Tom Brady is returning to his home away from home.

In his career, Brady has thrown for 8,248 yards on 64.14 percent completion, 69 touchdowns to 24 interceptions with a 99.3 rating against the Bills.

However, things have been better in the four games since Sean McDermott took over as head coach.

Brady has thrown four interceptions to just three touchdowns. Here are his passing totals in each game: 258, 224, 324, 126. That averages out to just 233 a contest. Add to that Brady has been sacked eight times over those games.

The GOAT continues to play like the GOAT this season. Brady, now 42 years old, has tossed for 911 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions. His 116.5 QB rating ranks fourth in the league. 

But it hasn’t been easy going for Brady against this McDermott Bills D, one that enters only allowing 212 passing yards a game this season on only 5.21 yards per play, third in the NFL.

Tre Day

Tre’Davious White is fresh off the first multi-interception game of his NFL career. While the INT numbers aren’t always there with White, there’s good reason. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, White is tops in the NFL in limiting opposing passers to a 25.0 passer rating when targeting him.

This season he hasn’t followed the opponents top WR like he did a year ago, thanks in part to the strong play of Levi Wallace opposite him. Let’s see if that stays the same, getting cracks at both Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett. I doubt you see him slide inside to guard Julian Edelman, which brings the importance of Taron Johnson’s status even higher.

Injury Report

Patriots

​QUESTIONABLE: DE Michael Bennett (shoulder), RB Rex Burkhead (foot), S Nate Ebner (groin), WR Julian Edelman (chest), T Marshall Newhouse (illness), LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), TE Matt LaCosse (ankle)

Bills

​OUT: TE Tyler Kroft (ankle), LB Corey Thompson (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE: LB Maurice Alexander (knee), G Jon Feliciano (neck), WR Robert Foster (groin), CB Taron Johnson (hamstring), OL Spencer Long (ankle), WR Isaiah McKenzie (ankle), RB Devin Singletary (hamstring)

Bills host the Patriots Sunday at New Era Field, kicking off at 1 pm.