The 3-2 New England Patriots travel to Buffalo to face the 3-2 Bills on Sunday afternoon. In Week Five, the Patriots dominated the Cincinnati Bengals and won 43-17. Week Six is an opportunity for the Patriots to move atop the AFC East and also will go a long way towards any tiebreakers that may come into play come January. The Bills had a huge win over a talented Lions team and have the home field advantage, not to mention some info from ex-Patriots Brandon Spikes and Pepper Johnson, so this will be a difficult test, like all division games. Let’s answer the Weekly Five and determine how the Patriots will fare in Week Six.
1. How will the Patriots move the ball?
The Bills are ranked 21st versus the pass, allowing over 250 yards per game. Last week the Patriots passing game got back on track, specifically their two tight end packages and play action. The Bills possess one of the best pass rushers in defensive end Mario Williams, but that can't deter the Patriots from trying to throw. The Bills have the 2nd ranked run defense in football, only allowing 71 yards per game. That may look great, but digging deeper tells another story. Buffalo hasn't faced a team with a legit pair of running backs like the Patriots, so although there will be plays in the passing game, it would be smart to stay as committed to balance as possible. Be prepared to see at least two screens run to Mario Williams side of the field; use his skills against him.
2. Can the Bills score against the New England defense?
It all depends on what defense shows up and the gameplan devised by Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia. If the Patriots use a soft zone like they have many times in this young season, it could make for a long day. If they decide to use Revis to take away Sammy Watkins and deploy a similar plan they used vs. the Bengals, the Bills will have trouble moving the ball and ultimately scoring points. Chandler Jones is battling a shoulder injury so his effectiveness could be limited Sunday. Dont'a Hightower also has a knee issue and may not available for a second week in a row. Expect to see more blitzing to create pressure, especially if Jones is a no-go. Chris Jones had a strong week on the interior of the defensive line and he could play a huge role again this week.
3. Who has the edge in the coaching match up?The Patriots have the advantage but it doesn't hurt that the Bills have Pepper Johnson on their staff. He was part of the Patriots for over a decade and he is going to have a hand in game planning for Sunday. Having info helps, but ultimately the games is decided by Jimmie's and Joe's, not x's and o's. Belichick has had a lot of success over his 14 years in New England when they face the Bills, but the games typically are tight games decided by a field goal.
4. Will the Bills find a way to give Brady fits?
If the offensive line plays like they did this past Sunday, Brady will have a big day. The elements can be an issue in Buffalo so that is always a variable, but considering it is still early October, it appears to Patriots dodged a bullet by not playing in Western Buffalo in the heart of winter. Mario Williams must be accounted for, as does Marcel Darius, the impressive defensive tackle who had three sacks this past Sunday and five overall in the last three weeks. The interior pass rush is what gives Brady the most problems so keeping Darius at bay will go a long way in deciding who wins the game.
5. Who wins the game?
The Patriots found their way last week and the Bills are going to face a team with confidence on both sides of the ball. Darrelle Revis will take Sammy Watkins away and the limited Fred Jackson won't have the same huge game he typically has vs. New England. Brady and the passing game will have their second straight game and lead the Patriots to sole possession of first place.
Patriots 31, Bills 10
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