Three things to watch for as the Patriots take on the Bills this Sunday in Orchard Park (1 p.m., CBS).
Success against ’12’
New Bills head coach Sean McDermott is a part of the Andy Reid coaching tree and has had decent success against Tom Brady and the Patriots over the years. When McDermott was the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers in 2013, he got the best of Brady in a memorable 24-20 Panthers win at Carolina on Monday Night Football. McDermott helped limit Brady to 296 yards passing, one touchdown and a 91.3 passer rating. Brady also threw a pick in the loss.
Going way back to the 2004 Super Bowl against the Eagles, McDermott again had decent success against Brady. The Eagles lost, but only gave up 24 points to the Pats. It was the one Super Bowl win for the Patriots where Brady did not win game MVP (Deion Branch).
Yards are cool, points not so much
This will be a battle of “bend but don’t break” defenses as both teams tend to give up a ton of yardage but tighten up in the red zone. The Bills give up 354.9 points per game (25th in NFL) but only allow 23.6 points per game (17th in NFL). The Patriots allow a whopping 385.5 points per game (30th in NFL) but give up just 20.0 points per game (11th in NFL). The good news for the Pats is that their defense is going in the right direction and the jury is still out on Buffalo. Before holding the Chiefs to 10 points last week they gave up 54 points to the Chargers and 47 points to New Orleans.
For all the good the Patriots defense has done these past two months, a top-level running back has shown the ability to torch them. The Chargers’ Melvin Gordon rushed for 132 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown against the Pats last month. The Pats will face another top 10 running back this Sunday in Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy – who is eighth overall in total rushing yards this season in the NFL. McCoy had two plus-80 yard rushing days against the Pats in his first season in Buffalo two seasons ago and last year he ran for 70 yards and caught six balls for 38 yards and a touchdown in his only game against the Pats (a 16-0 Bills win at Gillette).