Preview: Patriots at Bills
Letdown, anyone? That could be the biggest obstacle for the resurgent New England Patriots as they head to western New York on Monday night to play the reeling Buffalo Bills. The Patriots have dominated the rivalry against the Bills, who have scored the fewest points in football, are down to their third quarterback and could be without their best offensive player.
The Patriots have rebounded from a slow start to rip off four consecutive victories, moving to their accustomed spot at the top of the AFC East after winning slugfests over Kansas City and Chicago the past two weeks. “It’s always tough with them up there,” New England coach Bill Belichick said of playing in Buffalo. “We know that. I mean, we know it’s going to be tough. We talked about it but talking about it is the easy part. It’ll be dealing with it Monday night that will be the hard part.” The Bills must find a way to solve future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who owns a staggering 28-3 mark against the Bills — the most by any quarterback against another opponent. Buffalo has been limited to 13 points or fewer in five of its seven games and could be without starting running back LeSean McCoy, who remained in the league’s concussion protocol on Friday.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Patriots -14. O/U: 44
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (5-2): Brady rebounded from a 133-yard effort in a loss at Detroit in Week 3 to guide New England to four wins in a row, posting a passer rating of 102-plus in each of the past three victories. Brady likely will be without rookie running back Sony Michel, who rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns in a three-game span before suffering a knee injury in last week’s 38-31 victory at Chicago. The return of Julian Edelman from suspension and addition of Josh Gordon has bolstered a passing game that hopes to have tight end Rob Gronkowski back after he sat out a week ago. New England ranks 25th overall in total defense (389.9 yards) and against the pass (275.9).
ABOUT THE BILLS (2-5): Rookie quarterback Josh Allen is injured and Nathan Peterman has been benched, so Derek Anderson will hope for improvement against New England after a shaky season debut in which he threw for 175 yards and was intercepted three times. “They’ve got a good defense,” said Anderson. “They’ve got a good scheme to try and take away guys and who they think are going to be our biggest threats and take away the things that we do well.” Not only is McCoy’s status up in the air, but backup running back Chris Ivory was limited in practice Thursday and Friday after hurting his hamstring on Wednesday. Buffalo’s defense has exelled against the pass, allowing 210.1 yards per game.
1. Brady has 16 touchdowns and two interceptions in his last six games at Buffalo.
2. McCoy has at least 100 yards from scrimmage in five straight games against New England.
3. Gronkowski has 12 touchdowns in 13 games versus the Bills.