Bills(1-2) vs Patriots (3-0)
Coming off what could have been a season-saving victory, Rex Ryan prepares to match wits with his biggest rival when he leads the Buffalo Bills into a matchup against Bill Belichick and the host New England Patriots on Sunday (Enter Contest). Despite the absence of quarterback Tom Brady due to a four-game suspension, the unbeaten Patriots are in a familiar perch atop the AFC East.
About the Patriots
It’s unclear if Jimmy Garoppolo or rookie Jacoby Brissett, who are both dealing with injuries, will be under center for New England. They have not missed a beat since the beginning of the season. The team improved to 3-0 with a 27-0 demolition of Houston on Sept. 22. They’ve won 21 of their last 22 division home games.
Both Garoppolo (shoulder) and Brissett were limited in drills during Thursday’s practice. The prognosis of the offense was further muddled by the limited status of star tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring). Although he did not have a catch in his season debut against the Texans, Gronkowski is expected to be more involved against Buffalo. Running back LeGarrette Blount, who leads the NFL with 298 yards rushing and has scored four touchdowns, was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month on Thursday. Wide receiver Danny Amendola had nine receptions for 117 yards in the last meeting against Buffalo.
New England’s defense is ranked in the middle of the pack. They’ve allowed an average of 90.3 yards rushing and 15.0 points per game. The Patriots won 23 of the past 25 meetings between the longtime division rivals, including a season sweep a year ago.
About the Bills
Buffalo rebounded from a pair of six-point losses with a dominating 33-18 victory over Arizona on Sunday. It was six days after Ryan fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The absence of star wideout Sammy Watkins forced Buffalo to rely on a ground game that produced 208 yards rushing versus Arizona. LeSean McCoy nearly matched his total from the first two weeks combined by rushing for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He rushed for more than 80 yards in both matchups against New England last season.
Watkins was placed on injured reserve Friday, officially ruling him out for at least the next eight weeks. McCoy will be in line for another heavy workload. Buffalo’s defense came alive last week by registering five sacks and four interceptions. Ryan’s teams are 4-18 following a win since 2012.