It’s Round 2 between the Patriots and Bills, and as weird as it sounds - it’s the Patriots looking for revenge.
The Bills took the first game at Gillette Stadium, a 16-0 shutout that had everybody wishing Tom Brady was on the field. Well, now he is, to the dismay of the rest of the NFL, and that certainly includes Bills head coach Rex Ryan.
A division opponent has not swept the Patriots in 15 seasons, and though the Pats are on the road in a hostile environment, it’s hard to believe that streak will end with Brady out there, and not Jacoby Brissett. Brady is 25-3 over his career against the Bills, the most wins he has against any opponent, and the second-most wins any starting quarterback has against any opponent - behind Brett Favre’s 26 wins over the Lions.
The 26th win would extend the Patriots' AFC East lead to a whopping three games after just eight weeks. Another classic AFC East season!
1. Keep your composure
Aside from the Patriots’ no-show on offense, the storyline from these two teams’ first go 'round was what occurred before the game. Bills defensive back Robert Blanton tried to get into it with Brissett and Patriots rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell, which then turned into a pushing match between members of both teams. Did the Bills get under the Patriots’ skin a bit? Ryan is a fiery coach, and often times his teams fall in line behind him. They can be undisciplined. It’s important for the Patriots to steer clear of any extracurricular activity out there. They’re a much more talented team than the Bills – but the players have to stay on the field.
2. Stopping Shady
The Patriots are - 6.5 favorites against the Bills this week, but expect that number to jump if it turns out LeSean McCoy, who tore it up for 587 rushing yards and six touchdowns through the first six games, can’t play. McCoy is now dealing with a hamstring injury, but he gave it a go last week against the Dolphins at much less than full health – and it showed. He finished with just 11 yards on eight carries, re-aggravating the injury. The Bills have been down this road with McCoy before. He plays through injuries. Will they allow it to continue? If not, Mike Gillislee, Jonathan Williams, and Reggie Bush will see expanded roles. If the Patriots go up early, it’ll be put more on quarterback Tyrod Taylor to get the Bills going, and he’s hurt the Pats in the past.
3. Pick your poison
The Steelers paid special attention to the Patriots' two mammoth tight ends last week - Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Gronkowski still had success later on, finishing with four receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown, but Bennett was held to just one catch for five yards. But those tight ends still cleared out space for Brady to hit Julian Edelman nine times, helping them march down the field. There is no easy answer to stopping the Patriots offense. Gronkowski, though, is now tied with Stanley Morgan for most career touchdowns by a Patriots player, with 68. He's going to do everything in his power to get No. 69 in his hometown of Buffalo. Nice.