It is hard to believe we have come across the fourth week of the season already, and that after this weekend the season will be 25% concluded. Heading into week four, the AFC East has been divided into two halves. The bottom half is where the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets reside with an 0-3 record for both teams. Neither the Dolphins or Jets look to be in a position to fight for a postseason birth. The top of the division is where the excitement has been. The New England Patriots have been as dominant as ever, and the Buffalo Bills have shocked the league by being 3-0 in the early going. With sole possession of first place on the line, this game has implications not often seen this early in the season. Without further ao, here are the key points for Patriots vs Bills.
New England Patriots (3-0) @ Buffalo Bills (3-0)
Players to Watch
When mentioning key points, you have to start with Tom Brady. Brady has not looked like a 42-year-old NFL quarterback with 20 years of wear and tear on him. Through the first three games against the Steelers, Dolphins, and Jets, Brady has averaged a passer rating of 117.63 and has thrown for seven touchdowns and no picks. Brady’s lack of mobility could become an issue now, thanks to an injury to their starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Although it’s early, Brady has looked sharp with his passes so far, and his accuracy has been better than last year. In fact, PPF has Brady as the league’s best QB this year ahead of Patrick Mahomes. Our very own Shane Lang was ahead of the curve and Brady in his “Five Best Odds To Win The NFL MVP” list during the offseason.
TreDavoius White has had an impressive start to his career but has a tough matchup this week. White, who has two interceptions this year, will now have to go up against Josh Gordon. For Buffalo’s pass rush to be able to have time to get to Brady, White will have to hold up in coverage against one of the more physical players in the league. This could be White’s chance to have a star-making performance in front of a watching America.
Sony Michel has not been the same player as last year. Last season, Michel was a breakout player who led a dynamic rushing attack for New England. Although Michel’s stats in week two are fine, in week one Michel averaged 0.93 yards per carry on 15 carries, and in week one 1.22 yards per carry on nine carries. Michel and the New England running game will need to get going at some point soon to help Brady.
Offense vs Defense
The New England offensive line has been ranked as the 12th best in the NFL according to PFF. But with injuries starting to pile up, the Buffalo defense will be looking to strike. If the secondary of Buffalo can cover the New England receivers long enough, Buffalo should be able to get pressure and potential coverage sacks. Speaking of New England receivers, NBC Sports Craig Kolodny reported on Twitter that slot receiver Julian Edelman returned to practice on Wednesday. Because of the injuries up front, Brady will be looking to get the ball out of his hands quicker. If Edelman plays, that will be a huge help to Brady in accomplishing that.
On the other side of the equation, Buffalo’s offense has looked improved over last year thanks to offseason acquisitions Frank Gore, Cole Beasley, Dawson Knox, and John Brown. Last year the Bills left their rookie quarterback with few options to throw to, but this year, Brown has had a career resurgence with 247 yards already, while Cole Beasley has become a safety net for Josh Allen. That being said, New England’s defense has not given up an offensive touchdown through three weeks and might be the best defense in the NFL. The secondary of New England is led by 2018 All-Pro Stephon Gilmore who has been stellar through three games.
What to Expect
This game could go a few different ways depending on which Bills team shows up. If Buffalo shows up in front of their home fans and plays up to their potential they can win. For Buffalo to live up to their potential, their defense must first play up to their level of talent. They must shut down the run game, and not give up big plays. Edelman is one of the best the league had in yards after catch, so the Bills must make it one of their key points to keep an eye on him and not miss tackles. Buffalo will need to run the ball effectively and win the time of possession battle. The less the ball is in Brady’s hands the better. With all that said, if the Patriots defense plays as good as they have through three games, they could very easily be on their way to 4-0.
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