Patriots - Bills: Statistically Speaking

In week 13, the Patriots improved to 7-5 after beating the hapless 2-9 New York Jets by a score of 16-3. Meanwhile Buffalo, up 23-3 with the ball on the Miami three yard line with 4:14 left in the third quarter, somehow managed to allow backup Dolphins QB Sage Rosenfels to lead Miami to three scores including a last second touchdown for a 24-23 victory. The meltdown put the Bills at a dismal 4-8, but the Patriots will be in a dogfight on Sunday. PI's Ricky Popolizio breaks down the game.

Although the Patriots cruised against the Jets, the game should have been over much, much earlier. Because of missed opportunities by the Patriots, the Jets had the game deadlocked at three until there were two seconds left in the first half. Missed opportunities this Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium will likely result in a loss. While the Bills have been good at home, Tom Brady and the Patriots have flourished in the winter. That being said, the Patriots can clinch the AFC East with a win and a Dolphins loss at San Diego. A likely scenario.

 

The Impact of Dillon’s Return

A week after New England’s second worst rushing game of the season against Kansas City, the Patriots turned in their best rushing effort. The Pats gained 146 yards on 35 carries for an average of 4.2 yards per carry against the Jets. It was the best rushing output since the Pats put up 176 yards on the ground against San Francisco last year. The return of both Dillon and third down specialist Kevin Faulk was instrumental in the increased production from week 12 to week 13 for the league’s 27th ranked rushing offense. The key of course was Dillon, who rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries (4.1 avg.) and one touchdown. Prior to Sunday’s game at Gillette, New England had just one rushing TD in the last four games. With a week under his belt since coming back from his injury, Dillon should only be better against the Bills, who are allowing an average of 140.3 rushing yards a game (ranked 31st in the NFL). The Bills also have a +7 turnover differential, so New England may look to stay on the ground more often than not to avoid turnovers and allow Dillon to exploit the NFL’s second worst rush defense.

A look at New England’s rushing attack, game by game:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Oakland

31

73

2.4

2

2

Carolina

16

39

2.4

0

3

Pittsburgh

30

79

2.6

2

4

San Diego

18

73

4.1

1

5

Atlanta

30

141

4.7

1

6

Denver

19

89

4.7

1

7

Bye

-

-

-

-

8

Buffalo

22

93

4.2

2

9

Indianapolis

14

34

2.4

0

10

Miami

25

91

3.6

0

11

New Orleans

30

132

4.4

0

12

Kansas City

18

74

4.1

1

13

New York Jets

35

146

4.2

1

TOTALS

288

1064

3.7

11

 

Bills Rush Defense

The Bills rush defense lost some key players early this season (Sam Adams and Takeo Spikes), and the results have been indicative of those losses. The Bills are allowing 140.3 total rushing yards per game (31st in the NFL) and 100.3 to primary running backs. Although the Bills have not allowed a primary back to reach the century mark in the past three games, they will be tested by Dillon. RB’s with 20+ carries have rushed for 100 yards all but once this season, when the Bills held DeShaun Foster to 74 yards on 22 carries in week 12. Those teams who gave their backs 20+ carries took five of six games from the Bills. On October 30 at Gillette Stadium, Dillon was given 18 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

How the Bills have fared against opposing runners:

Wk

RB

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Domanick Davis

HOU

14

48

3.4

0

2

Cadillac Williams

TB

24

128

5.3

1

3

Dunn/Duckett

ATL

27

172

6.4

1

4

Deuce McAllister

NO

27

130

4.8

0

5

Ronnie Brown

MIA

17

97

5.7

0

6

Curtis Martin

NYJ

18

148

8.2

1

7

LaMont Jordan

OAK

28

122

4.4

3

8

Corey Dillon

NE

18

72

4.0

2

9

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

10

Larry Johnson

KC

27

132

4.9

0

11

LaDainian Tomlinson

SD

19

67

3.5

1

12

DeShaun Foster

CAR

22

74

3.4

0

13

Ricky Williams

MIA

11

46

4.2

1

Avg. per game (primary RB)

21

103

4.90

1.2

 

Brady In Cold Weather

Tom Brady has a career 18-0 record when the temperature is below 40 degrees. He has won eight of 10 career starts against the Bills, the most against any opponent. On turf, Brady is 12-1, including an outstanding performance this year in Atlanta (140.4 QB rating). The Pats are 42-7 in games post November 1 since 2001. With Corey Dillon back in the lineup, Brady’s job only gets easier. Currently with an NFL leading 3301 passing yards, Brady and the Patriots own the league’s third best passing offense. Brady has not had two consecutive games with an 80+ QB rating since weeks 8 and 9, but needs to find some consistency as the playoffs near. New England is winless this year in games where Brady QB rating is below 80.

Brady’s numbers week by week:

Wk

Opponent

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Oakland

24/48

306

63.2%

2

0

105.8

2

Carolina

23/44

270

52.3%

1

1

69.3

3

Pittsburgh

31/41

372

75.6%

0

1

92.7

4

San Diego

19/32

224

59.4%

1

1

78.1

5

Atlanta

22/27

350

81.5%

3

1

140.4

6

Denver

24/46

299

52.2%

1

0

79.9

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

Buffalo

14/21

199

66.7%

1

0

113.0

9

Indianapolis

22/33

265

66.7%

3

0

121.4

10

Miami

21/36

275

58.3%

2

2

77.9

11

New Orleans

15/29

222

51.7%

3

0

111.6

12

Kansas City

22/40

248

55.0%

1

4

42.5

13

New York Jets

27/37

271

73.0%

0

0

93.4

 

Bills Pass Defense

After not allowing a quarterback to attain a 100+ rating in the first six weeks, the Bills have seen opposing QB’s reach the 100+ mark in five of the last seven games. Buffalo has a fairly strong secondary with former Patriot Lawyer Milloy, Terrence McGee, Troy Vincent and Nate Clements, and despite a +7 turnover ratio, the Bills have made just one interception in the last three games, while giving up seven touchdowns. The Bills are allowing 191.8 passing yards a game, the 12th best mark in the NFL. If the Bills match up with the Pats passing game, it will put a lot of pressure on the Pats rushing offense to step up once again.

How opposing QB’s have faired vs. the Bills this season:

Wk

QB

Opp

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

David Carr

HOU

9/21

70

42.9 %

0

3

12.1

2

Brian Griese

TB

16/22

136

72.7%

0

0

88.4

3

Michael Vick

ATL

15/27

167

55.6%

2

1

83.4

4

Aaron Brooks

NO

15/26

172

57.7%

0

0

77.7

5

Gus Frerotte

MIA

21/33

226

63.6%

2

3

66.0

6

Vinny Testaverde

NYJ

12/26

161

46.2%

0

2

34.3

7

Kerry Collins

OAK

19/27

261

70.4%

1

0

113.4

8

Tom Brady

NE

14/21

199

66.7%

1

0

113.0

9

BYE

-

20/27

270

74.1%

1

1

102.4

10

Trent Green

KC

23/40

220

57.5%

0

3

41.7

11

Drew Brees

SD

28/33

339

84.8%

4

0

149.1

12

Jake Delhomme

CAR

20/27

191

74.1%

1

0

105.6

13

Frerotte/Rosenfels

MIA

34/65

387

51.2%

2

1

72.0

 

Bills Willis McGahee

Willis McGahee has rushed for over 100 yards four times this season, three times at home. He is averaging 100.8 yards at home and scored three of his four TD’s at home. Last time McGahee met the Patriots, he accumulated 136 yards on the ground on 31 carries. New England is allowing 109.6 yards per game on the ground. Although J.P. Losman has a respectable 88.45 QB rating in his last four starts, he has thrown an interception in his last three games, and it will be difficult for Losman to win the game without a healthy dose of McGahee. Even after a better defensive effort last week by the Pats, the Bills game plan will likely be to get McGahee involved early and often. The Patriots still have a defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in yards allowed on first down. In games where McGahee is given 22 carries or more, he has rushed for over 100 yards four of six times. He has averaged 103 yards in the Bills four wins.

Here are McGahee’s numbers, game by game:

Wk

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Houston          

22

117

5.3

0

2

Tampa Bay

13

34

2.6

0

3

Atlanta

27

140

5.2

1

4

New Orleans

16

84

5.3

1

5

Miami

31

86

2.8

1

6

NY Jets

29

143

4.9

1

7

Oakland

16

50

3.1

0

8

New England

31

136

4.4

0

9

BYE

-

-

-

-

10

Kansas City

20

66

3.3

0

11

San Diego

10

39

3.9

0

12

Carolina

21

53

2.5

0

13

Miami

27

81

3.0

 

Avg per game

21.92

85.75

3.9

.33

 

Patriots Rush Defense

The Pats put on an excellent defensive effort against the Jets, allowing just 164 total yards and 46 yards on 16 carries (2.6 avg.) on the ground, the lowest rushing total since week 2 in 2002. However, they still have the 17th rated rush defense in the NFL, and Willis McGahee is one of the top running backs in the game. Earlier this year, McGahee ran all over the Pats for 136 yards on 31 carries. But a few things have changed since then. Richard Seymour is back in the lineup and is getting better every game. Tedy Bruschi, who on the October 30 matchup with the Bills was making his triumphant return, is in much better shape than he was over a month ago. Curtis Martin was unproductive last Sunday against the Pats, and as a result Brooks Bollinger was pressured all day long. If McGahee isn’t having success, Losman could have a similar experience to Bollinger’s.

How opponent RB’s have done vs. the Pats:

Wk

RB

Team

Carries

Yards

Av.

TDs

1

Lamont Jordan

OAK

18

70

3.9

0

2

Stephen Davis

CAR

25

77

3.1

3

3

Willie Parker

PIT

17

55

3.2

0

4

LaDainian Tomlinson

SD

25

134

5.4

2

5

Warrick Dunn

ATL

19

83

4.4

0

6

Anderson/Bell

DEN

28

171

6.1

2

7

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

8

Willis McGahee

BUF

31

136

4.4

0

9

Edgerrin James

IND

34

104

3.1

1

10

Lonnie Brown

MIA

14

64

4.6

0

11

Antowain Smith

NO

11

32

2.9

0

12

Larry Johnson

KC

31

119

3.8

1

13

Curtis Martin

NYJ

15

29

1.9

0

Avg. per game (only primary RB)

22.3

89.5

4.01

.75

 

Losman as the Bills starter

The 22nd overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, 24-year-old J.P. Losman had perhaps his best game as a pro last Sunday against the Dolphins. Losman threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs. He also put up a QB rating of 102.1, his second best as a starter. That could mean trouble for the Patriots, but it is unlikely Losman will have a repeat performance, even against the Pats 31st ranked pass defense. The former Tulane star, who has completed 51.2% of his passes and has thrown for 1159 yards this season, has also thrown almost as many interceptions (5) as touchdowns (7). On the bright side, Losman’s two wins this season have both come at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The best thing for Losman on Sunday will be a good outing from McGahee.

Against Miami, Losman threw three touchdown passes to wide receiver Lee Evans in the first quarter. Eric Moulds had nine receptions for 125 yards in the first Bills/Pats matchup this year. Losman will look to exploit New England’s pass defense with these two dangerous downfield threats.

Losman’s game-by-game breakdown:

Wk

Opponent

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Houston          

17/28

170

60.7%

1

0

89.9

2

Tampa Bay

11/28

113

39.3%

0

0

51.6

3

Atlanta

10/23

75

43.5%

0

1

33.8

4

New Orleans

7/15

75

46.7%

0

1

34.0

5

Miami

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

6

NY Jets

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

7

Oakland

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

8

New England

DNP

-

-

-

-

-

9

BYE

-

-

-

-

-

-

10

Kansas City

9/16

137

56.3%

2

0

124.2

11

San Diego

20/36

168

55.6%

1

1

62.0

12

Carolina

16/29

197

55.2%

0

1

62.0

13

Miami

13/26

224

50%

3

1

102.1

 

Patriots Pass Defense

As was the case against the Jets, Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini will give another young quarterback a lot of different looks on Sunday. If New England can stop McGahee, Losman will be forced to win the game, and that will play into the hands of the Patriots. Losman has thrown an interception in three straight games. The Patriots pass defense is by no means good (31st in the NFL), and Lee Evans and Eric Moulds will be extremely difficult to match up against. With left cornerback Asante Samuel likely covering Moulds, rookie cornerback Ellis Hobbs will be up against Evans, who caught five passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. Hobbs had a strong game himself on Sunday, intercepting a Brooks Bollinger pass in the fourth quarter for his team leading (tie with Vrabel) second pick. It will be crucial for the Patriots to contain Moulds and Evans, both capable of putting up big numbers quickly. If the Bills get in front early as they did in Miami, New England could have trouble staging a comeback like the Dolphins did, even with Tom Brady. 

Game-by-game break down of opposing QB’s vs. the Pats:

Wk

QB

Opp

Att/comp

Yards

Pct

TDs

Int

Rate

1

Kerry Collins

OAK

18/39

265

46.2 %

3

0

94.5

2

Jake Delhomme

CAR

11/26

154

42.3%

0

1

46.0

3

Ben Roethlisberger

PIT

12/28

216

42.6%

2

0

93.7

4

Drew Brees

SD

19/24

248

79.2%

2

0

137.5

5

Matt Schaub

ATL

18/34

298

52.9%

3

0

112.1

6

Jake Plummer

DEN

17/24

262

70.8%

2

0

134.4

7

BYE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Kelly Holcomb

BUF

20/33

263.

60.6%

1

1

83.3

9

Payton Manning

IND

28/37

321

75.7%

3

1

117.1

10

Gus Frerotte

MIA

25/47

360

53.2%

2

1

83.6

11

Aaron Brooks

NO

27/50

343

54.0%

2

1

80.7

12

Trent Green

KC

19/26

323

73.1%

1

0

127.6

13

Brooks Bollinger

NYJ

15/37

135

40.5%

0

1

39.8

 

Injury Impact

With Patrick Pass and Heath Evans out for New England, Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk will handle the load at running back. TE Daniel Graham is also sidelined with a shoulder injury, but Ben Watson has been playing well as of late and will get a chance to be the number one guy now. For the Bills, both offensive tackle Mike Williams and TE Mark Campbell are questionable.

Final Thoughts

New England has a chance to win their fourth game of the last five and two straight for the second time this year. A win and a Dolphins loss would clinch the AFC East title and go a long way in building the team’s confidence and momentum with only a quarter of the regular season remaining. The Patriots should be able to win this game on the ground with Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk going head to head against the NFL’s 31st ranked rush defense. Although the Pats only scored one touchdown and 16 points against the lowly Jets last Sunday, the biggest question marks for New England remain in the defense. The Patriots need to follow up their best defensive performance of the year with another solid outing, both on the ground and in the air. Playing in Buffalo will be a bigger challenge for both New England’s rush and pass defense. Ellis Hobbs needs to continue to play well, and he and Samuel will be tested this week by Moulds and Evans. If the Patriots can slow McGahee, it will be up to Losman to beat New England’s weak pass defense. It will also be important for New England to be sharp on special teams. Buffalo has a great return man in Terrence McGee, and the Bills are averaging 25.8 yards per kick return, second only to Houston. Buffalo is also holding opponents to a league-low 18.9 yards per kick return.

 

Ricky Popolizio is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. For more of his past articles search the archives. To contact Ricky visit his bio page


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