The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots will meet for the second this season on October 30. The Bills dominated the Patriots in their 16-0 Week 4 victory in Foxboro though the Pats were without star quarterback Tom Brady. This time the game will be at New Era Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., and the game will be televised by CBS.
This matchup is very important for both teams, but more so for the Bills. New England currently sits atop of the AFC East with a 6-1 overall record and is 1-1 against division foes. Meanwhile, Buffalo is two games behind the Patriots with a 4-3 overall record. The Bills are just 1-2 in the division and 1-3 against conference foes.
Buffalo is coming off perhaps its worst overall game of the season, falling to the Miami Dolphins 28-25. The Bills blew an 11 point lead in the final 16 minutes of the game and was outgained 454 to 267 in total offense yards. With the loss, Buffalo saw its four-game winning streak come to an end.
New England won its third straight game with a 27-16 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots held the Steelers to two field goals in the second half, and each time the Pittsburgh scored, Tom Brady and the Patriots answered immediately back. Brady finished with 225 passing yards and two touchdown tosses, including a 36-yard score to TE Rob Gronkowski after a Steelers field goal cut the Patriots lead to 14-13.
New England leads the all-time series 69-43-1. The teams have split the last two meeting though Buffalo has not swept the season series since 1999. The Pats are 33-22-1 in Buffalo, which includes 11 victories in the last 12 meetings there.
One thing for sure is that the game will likely feature a lot of emotion as the teams. The last time the Bills and Patriots met, there was a little pregame scrum that resulted in Buffalo’s Aaron Williams, Robert Blanton and Nickell Coleman-Robey being found by the NFL per Mike Rodak of ESPN.
“These two teams don’t like each other, there’s no question about that,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “But I don’t think there was a real fight, you know? A real fight would be outside in a parking lot, you know what I mean? Then you really got something to write about. But that thing was hardly a fight.”
1. Tom Brady will throw for 300 yards and two Touchdowns
Brady has had some of his best games against the Bills, including a historic performance the last time the teams played in Buffalo. On that fateful September day, Brady became the first player in NFL history to throw for 450 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while attempting 55 passes according to ESPN Stats and Info. For his career against the Bills, the 39-year-old has completed 63.3 percent of his passes and averaged 250.0 passing yards per game along with 2.2 touchdowns in 28 games.
Brady has looked good so far in his three games since coming back from his suspension. Brady has completed an astounding 75.1 percent of his passes (76-of-101) for 1,004 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He has two-375-yard passing games.
Buffalo’s pass defense has been pretty good this season, permitting 235.7 yards a game –which ranks 11th in the league. The Bills have surrendered just four passing touchdowns as they have two really good corners in Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. Nickel back Nickell Robey-Coleman has also played well. There are concerns that safety Aaron Williams may not play due to a neck/head injury.
New York Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only quarterback to surpass the 300-yard mark against the Bills.
2. The Bills will top the 100-yard mark on the ground.
Buffalo has the second-best running attack in the NFL, averaging 152.3 yards on the ground. There is a caveat to this prediction which is that running backs LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee must be healthy.
McCoy is questionable to play as he is nursing a hamstring injury that he played through last week against the Dolphins, totaling just 11 yards on eight carries. He had 70 yards on 19 carries against the Patriots in the Week 4 matchup. McCoy ranks fourth in the league in rushing yards (598) and sixth in rushing yards (85.4) per game.
Gillislee is a quality backup, but he is dealing with a foot injury. The 25-year-old is averaging 6.2 yards a carry as he has 137 yards on 22 attempts. He had two games with over 80 yards last year when he filled in for McCoy.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor long with reserve running backs Jonathan Williams and Reggie Bush are also capable runners.
New England’s defense main focus on Sunday will be stopping McCoy according to Rodak. The Pats have been pretty good against the run this year as they rank No. 11 in rushing defense, allowing 92.3 yards per game. Buffalo is one of three teams to top the 100-yard mark on the ground against the Patriots.
3. Rob Gronkowski will break the Pats’ all-time receiving touchdown record.
Gronkowski needs just one more score to become New England’s franchise leader with 68 catches for touchdowns. Brady generally looks for Gronkowski when the Pats get close to the red zone anyways, but expect the effort to get the six-foo-six tight end in the end zone to be more pronounced with several Western New York friends and family in attendance to watch the Amherst native.
Gronkowski was not a factor in the first meeting between the teams as he was working his way back from injury. He has 16 receptions and two touchdowns in his last three games. Gronkowski has been pretty productive against the Bills in his career, hauling in nearly five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown per game in 10 contests.
4. Bills will win the turnover battle.
Neither team turns the ball over much. So the game could come down to which defense can force a mistake.
The Bills have the fewest turnovers in the league with four, two interceptions, and two fumbles. The Pats have turned the ball over six times with all of them being fumbles. New England has put the ball on the ground 14 times overall.
Defensively, Buffalo has 12 takeaways (six interceptions and six fumble recoveries). Gilmore and Robey-Coleman each have two picks.
The Patriots have nine takeaways with five interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
The Bills won the turnover battle 1-0 in Week 4.
5. New England will cover the spread.
The Patriots opened as 4.5-point favorites according to Oddssharks. The spread has increased to anywhere between 5.5-to-7 points depending on the bookmaker.
New England has lost to Buffalo just five times over the last 16 years. Plus, Brady is 25-3 in games he has started in his career against the Bills.
New England has been playing like Super Bowl champions. Buffalo played exceptionally well during their winning streak. The problem is that the Bills have several injury concerns on both sides of the ball, and not sure where the offense will come from.
Expect a relatively close, physical game. In the last seven meetings, four contests have been within 10 points. The Patriots have won five of those meetings.
[Featured Image by Bill Wippert/AP Images]