October 2nd. Bills 16, Patriots zip, zero, zilch. Goose egg. In Foxborough. At the hands of Bills Mafia and the Ryan brothers. Brady or not, that’s unacceptable and you better believe that sour taste remains in every Pats player, coach, and fans’ mouth. Fast forward a month and these teams are in a very different position. With 12 back at the helm, the Pats have rolled over three AFC North teams (Browns, Bengals, and Ben-less Steelers) and the Bills are limping home after a bad loss to division rival Dolphins. Rex’s back is again against the wall, and a loss to the Pats at home with trips to Seattle and Cincinnati looming could realistically end their wildcard bid, not to mention put Ryan back on the hot seat. The Bills punched first, literally. Now it’s time for the Pats to re-assert their decade and a half long dominance of this team and division. In the words of KG, expect a bar fight this Sunday. Can’t. Freaking. Wait.
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS Staff thinks about this huge AFC East showdown…
New England Props
Tom Brady: Over/Under 300 yards passing?
Niko: OVER. The scariest part? He’s better now than he was 5 years ago.
Jordan: OVER. I expect TB12 to "bounce back" after only putting up 222 yards last week. Expect a huge game from the GOAT.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 67 yards rushing?
Niko: Jay Ajayi of the Dolphins just rushed for 214 yards on this defense last weekend. I think Blount can go for at least 75, in what should be a somewhat balanced attack. OVER.
Jordan: Like Niko said, Jay Ajayi just had his way with the Bills defense. Blount always seemed to have good games against the Bills in the past. And with that run defense potentially rattled, expect the offense to exploit that at times.
James White: Over/Under 44.5 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: Dion started practicing this week, which means we’re that much closer to adding another dynamic playmaker for the McOffense. Talk about a great midseason addition. In his absence, White will continue to gobble up targets out of the backfield. OVER.
Jordan: I feel like we will get a heavy dose of James White on Sunday. He's been a really effective weapon for Brady in the 3 weeks prior to this game. I can see him possibly having another big game here against the Bills. OVER again.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 7.5 receptions, 72 yards receiving?
Niko: Jules was a little more involved Sunday as the Steelers made a legitimate effort to remove Gronk and Bennett from the game- and almost succeeded. Rex will attempt to do the same. I’ll go OVER on catches, UNDER on yards for #11.
Jordan: I expect almost the same type of game for Jules this week as last. A ton of receptions, but all of them being in the 5-8 yard range. So for that, OVER on receptions, UNDER on yards.
Rob Gronkowski: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 75 yards receiving?
Niko: Gronk isn’t going to catch half a dozen balls every game, just based on the amount of attention he’ll get from opposing defenses. He will however, make them count. UNDER on receptions, OVER on yards.
Jordan: OVER on both. Gronk, despite not getting a bunch of targets last week, still wound up having a relatively big game. Let's not forget, he's one of that 69th touchdown. Boy, I can't wait to see his celebration for that!
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 3.5 receptions, 55 yards receiving?
Niko: Expect the two tight end set early and often Sunday. With respect to Mitchell and/or Amendola, they don’t stress the defense nearly as much as the 6’7 salt and pepper duo. OVER on receptions for Marty, UNDER on yards.
Jordan: Marty wasn't really a major component in the passing game last week. However, I can see him being one this week against a division rival. The two tight end set is going to be vital on Sunday. UNDER on receptions, OVER on yards, and even expect a TD from Bennett.
Buffalo Props (At the time this was written McCoy, Woods, Clay and Goodwin were questionable with injury-potential replacements mentioned in each prop)
Tyrod Taylor: Over/Under 230 total yards?
Niko: The first time around, Taylor threw for 246 and ran for 28. I don’t think he’ll match either of those totals, but he will eclipse this mark. He always seems to make a few big plays and he will need to Sunday with so many of his top targets expected to limited by injuries. OVER.
Jordan: Agreeing with Niko on this one. I also see Tyrod eclipsing the 230 yard mark. He's the type of QB that worries me a little bit. He has an absolute cannon of an arm and can make people miss in the open field with his great agility and speed. He's going to be something special, just needs the weapons. I expect him to show glimpses this week. OVER.
LeSean McCoy: Over/Under 110 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: UNDER. McCoy’s hammy acted up against Miami last weekend and he can’t be considered a lock to handle a full load or finish this game. If McCoy is absent or limited, expect a combination of Mike Gilleslee and Reggie Bush (yeah, that Reggie Bush…) to shoulder the load.
Jordan: Appears as though Shady isn't playing Sunday. Or, at the most, limited. His hammy isn't in good shape, and I think that'll take a toll on his performance this week if he does play.
Robert Woods: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 49 yards receiving?
Niko: Woods practiced in limited fashion on Wednesday, so I expect him to go on Sunday. He’ll look to repeat his 7 catch, 89-yard performance during week 4. While he won’t hit those marks this weekend, he may be the only trusted target Taylor has. OVER on both.
Jordan: OVER on both. Tyrod has to throw to somebody. And against the Pats, you almost have to abuse your number one to stand a chance. Woods is his most consistent receiver, so he'll get a ton of targets. Leading him over the marks.
Marquise Goodwin: Over/Under 3.5 receptions, 39 yards receiving?
Niko: Goodwin is still in the league concussion protocol and is very questionable for Sunday. But in Goodell’s NFL, who knows, he could be cleared early. I’ll go with UNDER on these marks for Goodwin or his likely replacement, Justin Hunter.
Jordan: Another Bills players who's status remains unknown. Like Niko mentioned, Goodwin is still in the concussion protocol, so he most likely is a no-go on Sunday. Even if he was playing, I'd have to go with UNDER on both.
Charles Clay: Over/Under 3.5 receptions, 45 yards receiving?
Niko: Another banged up Bill. If Clay goes (knee), I think he’ll hit these marks (OVER). If he doesn’t go, expect ex-Florida State Seminole Nick O’Leary to fill in. O’Leary isn’t the receiving threat Clay is, but he’s a solid football player, and one I wanted the Pats to take a flyer on in 2015.
Jordan: I actually like Charles Clay. He's an underrated Tight End, doesn't wow you, but still is a very effective target. But, he's another banged up Buffalo Bill. That being said, I'm going to have to go with OVER on both if he plays.
Niko: I’m going to take the easy way out and go with the obvious: Patriots defensive front 7 vs. Bills’ Offensive Line. With the 31st ranked passing game in the league (175.1 passing yards per game), and injury uncertainty all over the offense (McCoy, Woods, Goodwin all questionable), Buffalo is going to try and lean on the running game and potentially Mike Gillislee, McCoy’s top backup. If Buffalo is unable to pick up yards on the ground, this one could get ugly.
Jordan: The Patriots pass rush against the O-Line of the Bills. The pass rush was absolutely putrid vs. Pittsburgh and needs a bounce back game. They want to keep Taylor in the pocket so he isn't as likely to make a play with his legs. So expect some QB contain rushes from the Pats front. Hopefully they cause some problems.
Niko: Chris Hogan catches a 30+ yard touchdown against his former team. Although he’s had his fair share of miscues in his early Pats career (a few critical holding calls and a fumble come to mind), I think it’s safe to say he’s a marked upgrade over the Brandon LaFell we saw last season. He’ll have his moments moving forward, and one will be on Sunday.
Jordan: Another Hogan prediction, but instead of the one 30+ yard TD, he catches 2 TDs of 15+ yards and has roughly 100 reception yards when the final snap is taken.
Game Total: Over/Under points 47.5?
Niko: Wow, Vegas is good. I’ve been going back and forth on this line forever, but I’ve decided to roll with just slightly UNDER. Buffalo could only muster up 16 points in the first go around and I can’t see the Patriots’ tackling being any worse. Plus, time of possession shouldn’t be an issue with Brady back at the helm (73 offensive Bills plays to 52 offensive NE plays the first time around).
Jordan: I'll go with OVER here. It seems like every Patriots vs. Bills game in Buffalo turns into a shootout. It won't be a Saints vs. Panthers type shootout, but points will be scored.
Final Prediction (Patriots -6.5):
Niko: 30-16 New England. TB12 is right around a 30-point difference maker. Rex and co. won’t be so fortunate this time around.
Jordan: 33-21 Patriots. Sexy Rexi won't be happy after taking this L at home to BB and New England. The score only stays this close due to a late TD by the Bills.