The Patriots are fresh off a sensational win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game which saw a near perfect performance from the golden boy, Tom Brady, and three touchdowns from Gronk. It was an offensive clinic, but now the Pats must turn their sights to the Rex Ryan led, Buffalo Bills.
Like the Patriots, the Bills are also coming off a big week one win. Buffalo handled their business and were able to get a victory against a tough AFC team in the Indianapolis Colts. Well, sort of tough team, nowhere near the Patriots’ level, but they’re decent I suppose when they are not tattling on the bigger, stronger teams.
Anyway, the Bills forced the Colts into many mistakes, and constantly pressured quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck who, against every other team but the Patriots is a decent player, was out of sync from the first snap, and despite fourth quarter scoring drive, never found his rhythm.
Needless to say, the fans in Buffalo are rearing and ready to get after the Pats and Brady, and with a character like Rex Ryan at the helm I would expect a lot of noise leading up to this Sunday.
Now it seems as though Buffalo has already hit their annual early season peak, and with Bills fans are already talking about Super Bowl 50, let us break down why our friends over in upstate New York are destined for another disappointing divisional matchup.
The Bills success against Indianapolis can be greatly attributed to their stellar play on the defensive side of the ball. Their front seven pressured Luck all day, while the secondary capitalized on bad throws, and broken plays.
It’s no secret that in the past Brady has struggled when teams bring constant pressure and knock him down. The most prominent examples of this is the two Super Bowl matchups against the Giants, but that’s a subject for a different day.
What gives me confidence about this matchup is that last week, even with three rookies starting on the offensive line, the Pats were able to give Brady plenty of time, and pick apart the Steelers defense. If the Patriots were able to find such success versus the Steelers with young players on the line, then they should be able to do their job, for the most part, against the Bills.
Obviously the Bills will get their licks in on Brady, but if last week was an indication of how this will play out, then such occurrences should be few and far between.
Despite the Bills fantastic defensive line, the key matchups for this game will take place in the Bills’ secondary. Bills corners, rookie, Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore looked great against the Colts, but the Pats will be throwing a much different look at them. Most of the throws made by Indy were downfield tosses. Most of these plays would then result in an interception, a sack, or a rushed throw.
The Patriots are not going to sit back and look to throw deep. One, because they don’t have the personnel to do so, and two, they know that if they can get the ball out quick, they can avoid being harassed by the Bills defensive line. Much like their playoff games versus the Ravens and Seahawks, I would expect the ball to leave Brady’s hand almost instantly, and neutralize the Bills line.
This tactic won’t allow Darby and Gilmore to track down receivers going for the long ball, and will instead force them to man up and play the short route. Gilmore, who is a veteran player, should have little problem with this, but it will be interesting to see how Darby reacts, and if the Brady will decide to pick on him.
The Bills also have to worry about covering Gronk and Chandler. Chandler should be hungary to get a W against his old team, and if we’re being honest, there is no one in the league right now who can cover Gronk. Gronk has also had past success in his hometown of Buffalo, and his presence alone tip the scales in the Patriots favor.
The Patriots will also get starting running back, LeGarrette Blount back. Blount had a big game against the Bills back in the 2013 season, and it can also never hurt to have one of your starters return.
What will be important to watch on the other side of the ball is whether or not the Patriots defense can contain LeSean McCoy, and the mobile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. The Patriots last week were devastated by the run, and unless they can make some significant changes, McCoy should have his way against the front seven.
The Pats have also struggled against mobile quarterbacks in the past, but with the additions of Jabaal Sheard and the emergence of Jamie Collins, the front seven should be able to contain Taylor, and force him to be a pocket passer. The Bills can counter this by opting to run the read option. If the Bills decide to utilize this, it could be a long day for the Pats D. Miami had success with this play during the opening game of last year’s season, and this offensive is set up to run such a scheme.
However, even if the Bills are able to move the ball, the Patriots juggernaut of an offensive should be enough to carry them to success and add another win against Buffalo to the resume. This team is just too much for Buffalo to handle right now, and you’d be hard pressed to find any team in the league that could beat the Pats right now.
By Jake Cianci