Say what you want about Rex and Rob, but, for better or worse, you’re lying to yourself if you wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to party with them. Enjoy ‘em while you have ‘em, Bills Mafia, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. The bad news for the Ryan bros? They’ll have plenty of time to pound bud lights and Buffalo wings on Sundays after the regular season, or (gulp…) even earlier.
As for Sunday at 1, the Pats are freaking rolling and the Bills just shellacked the Cardinals. Divisional game, Rex’s last stand. It doesn’t get any better.
Will Rex finally bow down and kiss the rings?
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS staff thinks…
Jimmy Garoppolo: Over/Under 240 yards passing?
Niko: For the first 6 quarters of his career, Jimmy G has been lights out, especially against the blitz. Rex is notorious for sending a healthy dose of them. Something has to give. Unfortunately, with the status of his shoulder still cause for concern, I think the game plan will be slightly dialed down in this one. UNDER.
Pete: While I agree with Niko that the playbook could, and probably should, be dialed down, the Patriots need to exploit the Bills' secondary. While the front-seven is arguably the best in the AFC, the secondary is a hot mess. If Tom Brady was at the helm, the Patriots would spread everyone out, put Touchdown Tommy in shotgun, and let him go to work. I am going to go OVER, but just barely.
Jordan: I think the Patriots may dial it down from the attack they displayed against the Dolphins, in order to try and keep Jimmy healthy throughout. But over the course of the game I can see Jimmy finding a rhythm and starting to dot up the Bills. I'll go with barely OVER as well, but a nice return for Jimmy.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 84 rushing yards?
Niko: OVER. The Blount keeps rolling. With 22, 29, and 24 rushes respectively over the first 3 games of the season, it’s clear what the agenda is sans Brady. Run the football. Rinse, repeat. The volume will be there, and while it won’t be pretty at times, Blount will hit this mark again on Sunday.
Pete: I don't think the Patriots' game plan will include giving the ball to Blount 30 times and just watch him rack up yards. The Bills' secondary is just too damn talented. However, I think the Patriots have an opportunity to punch the Bills in the mouth early in this game. If the Bills don't respond, this game could get out of hand in a hurry. Because I think the Patriots will blow them out, I will take the OVER with a heavy dose of garbage time yards.
Jordan: Who would've thought that LeGarrette Blount would ever be in the running for Offensive Player of the Month, let alone winning it? I see Blount Force Trauma posing with the Pilgrims some more this week. Maybe not to the extent of a massive game, but enough to get OVER the 84.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 6.5 catches, 65 yards receiving?
Niko: Jules just barely hit these marks in the first two games with Jimmy at the helm (7-66, 7-76), but failed to hit it with Jacoby in week 3. He’ll be right around these lines, so I’ll go OVER in catches, UNDER in yards.
Pete: OVER. Edelman has the unique ability to get open, especially in the slot. Against a rough Bills secondary, I expect some good things.
Jordan: OVER on both. With this being the last week without the second coming of Jesus Christ at QB, I expect a pissed of Julian Edelman of the same extent as we saw against Arizona. The Cards, on paper, have a better secondary than the Bills so I can see Jules making some big plays happen.
Rob Gronkowski: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 55 yards receiving?
Niko: After only playing a handful of snaps on Thursday, I don’t know if we can expect to see Gronk’s leash taken off quite yet. I’ll go UNDER in catches, but I’ll say he takes one up the seam and hits the OVER on the yardage one.
Pete: I agree with Niko. I have NO idea what to expect from Gronk coming into this game. We saw Gronk as a decoy and in the blocking scheme on his 13 snaps played, with only one passing route ran in the end zone. I think we will see more of Gronk, and have Garoppolo under center helps, but I say UNDER on both. We were pretty spot on last week, though.....
Jordan: I honestly have no clue what Gronk's status is health-wise this week, I know he's a go, but to what extent? Is he going to be slightly less of a decoy? I don't know. I'll go UNDER on both because I think the Pats are really saving him for TB12.
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 3.5 catches, 39 yards receiving?
Niko: Healthy dose of Bennett this Sunday, who had 5 for 114 in Jimmy’s last start. With Gronk back, it opens up things for Marty. I’ll say he does just enough to hit both of these marks. OVER.
Pete: OVER. Gronk is going to be a decoy more than anything, but, like Niko said, that will open things up for him.
Jordan: I'll say OVER on both. Like I said before, I don't think the Pats will let Gronk go in full throttle until the return of TB12. So I expect to see a lot of Marty.
Tyrod Taylor: Over/Under 230 total yards?
Niko: Tyrod has struggled over the first three weeks of the season, and I don’t see it becoming any easier against this Pats defense on Sunday. Not to mention, Taylor will either have a very limited top target Sammy Watkins, or won’t have him at all. While he’s always a threat to pick up chunks of yardage with legs, I don’t see him hitting this line. UNDER.
Pete: UNDER. Taylor was payed like a franchise quarterback in the offseason, but he is NOT a franchise quarterback. Like Niko mentioned, Sammy Watkins will be out for the game, and he is by far Taylor's best target.
Jordan: With Watkins out, Tyrod is already losing probably his best vertical threat. I see him having a hard time making on-the-fly decisions with a deadly Pats front and it may cost him some big plays. UNDER.
LeSean McCoy: Over/Under 105 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: I don’t think it’ll be overly efficient, as I love the Pats’ run defense (especially if Hightower suits up) but I think based on sheer volume, and a couple catches out of the backfield, ‘Shady’ goes for OVER the century mark.
Pete: I love LeSean McCoy on the field; as a team executive, you just have to worry about him off the field. Belichick will either let McCoy run rampant because he believes that he can't beat the Patriots, or BB will lock him up and give him nothing. I'll say OVER.
Jordan: It'll take both the ground and the air to help Shady McCoy have a 100+ yard game this week, but I do think the Pats "forget" about him on a few plays and allow Tyrod to dump it off to him on a couple 3rd and longs and wrapping him up just short of the sticks. So I'll go with OVER.
Robert Woods: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 49 yards receiving?
Niko: UNDER on catches, OVER on yards. Taylor has to throw to somebody, Woods is that somebody by default.
Pete: Admittedly, I am a fan of Robert Woods. I think he is a damn good wide out, and I think that will show in his numbers. I will say UNDER on catches, OVER on yards as well.
Jordan: To Niko's point, Tyrod needs to throw to someone. So Woods, more than likely, is that somebody. But after the beatdown of the Texans last week, I don't see the defense allowing many opportunities for anyone. But their will likely be a big [lay at some point where Woods can rack up a big gain. I'll go with the gents on this one, UNDER for catches, OVER on yards.
Marquise Goodwin: Over/Under 3.5 catches, 39 yards receiving:
Niko: In the absence of Watkins, Goodwin (the kid that burnt Revis two weeks ago) likely gets the call. The targets should be there, but I just don’t see Taylor and co. having long, sustained drives. UNDER on both.
Pete: I've followed Goodwin since his days at the University of Texas, where he was burning receivers all through the Big 12. Additionally, Goodwin is on the United States Olympic Team for the Long Jump, so you know he is a hell of an athlete. However, Goodwin has not gotten a steady dose of playing time, and I just don't see him consistently beating Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan or any of the safeties. UNDER.
Jordan: Once thing the Pats have in physicality in the secondary. And I imagine it'll be Malcolm Butler on Goodwin. Butler seems to have a skill in pissing guys off and rattling them. I expect that here, UNDER.
Charles Clay: Over/Under 3.5 catches, 39 yards receiving?
Niko: At one point when he played for the Dolphins, Belichick thought so much of Clay than he used he best defensive resource at the time (Aqib Talib) to shadow the tight end the entire game. You better believe even a diminished Clay will be a priority to stop. I’ll go with OVER on catches, UNDER on yards.
Pete: Tight ends really haven't given the Patriots any problems this year, and I expect more of that in this game. UNDER.
Jordan: I can't see Charles Clay amounting to much on Sunday. UNDER for both.
Niko: With both of Buffalo’s starting tackles banged up, and either limited or out entirely this weekend (Cyrus Kouandjio, Cordy Glenn) the Patriots could have a lot of success rushing the passer. The rush won’t necessarily always come from the edge (keeping contain vs. Taylor priority), so expect a healthy dose of A-gap rushes as well (read: Jamie Collins up the middle). If Buffalo can’t keep Tyrod clean, this could get ugly in a hurry. Bills O-Line vs. Pats D-line.
Pete: Just to switch it up, I will say the Bills secondary vs. Patriots wide receivers. Like I mentioned earlier, with Jimmy G at the helm, the Patriots will utilize the passing attack more so than if Jacoby Brissett was in there. If the Patriots want to put this game away early, they will sling it around the field and demoralize Buffalo.
Jordan: I'll go with Jimmy G vs. his shoulder. For some reason, I feel like Jimmy may be thinking about that injury early and may lead to him not risking taking hits early. I don't think that's too much of an issue, he will probably shake it off and be fine. Just something to think about.
Niko: James White has been solid with limited touches this season. So limited, in fact, he’s been (temporarily?) removed from the Pats props section of this piece. As was mentioned above, Rexy can’t help himself when it comes to phoning in blitzes; James should see plenty of short targets/screens to catch that defense off balance. I’ll go with 50+ yards from scrimmage and a TD for James.
Pete: I think there is a chance we see some Jacoby Brissett in this game with Garoppolo being less than 100%. We could see some designed quarterback draws or option plays to keep the Bills on their toes.
Jordan: Pats make a repeat performance of Houston and light it up against Rexy and the Bills. Blowing them out of the water in a score roughly arounf 38-10.
Game Total: Over/Under 44 Points
Niko: For all of his faults, Ryan does a commendable job making life at least a little more interesting for the Pats on offense. This won’t be a walk in the park. On the other side of the ball, the Bills don’t have much semblance of an offense, and the Patriots defense seems to be finding itself. I’d be shocked if this were a shoot out. UNDER.
Pete: OVER. I think we are going to get a surprising blowout here. There is just too much talent on both sides of the football for the Patriots and they are finally getting healthy. Look out.
Jordan: Over, I see it realistically being a fairly close game for the most part; Pats pull away late.
Final Prediction (Patriots -4):
Niko: They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Here are two:
Pete: Pats 31-16. The Patriots just have too much talent.
Jordan: Pats win 34-20. Too good and too inspired for the Bills.