Patriots - Bills: Keys to the Game
By Chris Goodhue, Patriots Insider
The offensive key for the Patriots this week will be to get Corey Dillon running
like old times, and the Buffalo run defense may be just what the doctor ordered
for # 28. The Bills are dead last in the AFC in rush yards allowed (1,113), average
yards allowed per carry (5.1), and rushing TD's allowed (11). Obviously some of
the drop off comes from the loss of LB Takeo Spikes for the year. His absence
has left 3rd year man Angelo Crowell at the ROLB spot who is an obvious downgrade
from arguably the Bills' best defensive player.
The young left side of
the Patriots offensive line, namely OT Nick Kazcur and G Logan Mankins; will benefit
from this match-up against DE Aaron Schobel and DT Tim Anderson and should be
able to gain confidence for the stretch run. If they can move the pile and get
Dillon to unload on the smallish LB Crowell, the Patriots should dominate the
clock. Dan Koppen and Stephen Neal will have a tough go of things with LB London Fletcher and DT Sam Adams.
Bills Rush Defense:
is Buffalo's leading tackler and roams the field side-to-side as good as any MLB
in the league. Despite being on what could be perceived as the downside of his
career, Sam Adams is still a load to deal with at 6'4", 335 Lbs., and Neal
will most likely get help from Koppen and OT Tom Ashworth on some runs.
is how opposing rushers have done against the Bills:
of course is assuming that Corey Dillon will play Sunday night. Dillon missed
Week 6 at Denver, and most in the inner circles believe he and Richard Seymour
were given that game off for some extra rest coupled with the bye week and will
be available Sunday.
Here are Dillon's numbers game by game:
per game played|
As Tom Brady goes, so goes the Pats' offense. In games
in which he has achieved a 80.0 quarterback rating or higher, the Pats are 3-0,
and every time he's been south of that number, they are 0-3. Some of the failure
has to be attributed to the lackluster running game thus far, which has allowed
opposing defense to pin back their ears and attack Brady constantly. If the Patriots
can establish the run against a feeble Buffalo run defense, Brady may be able
play-action successfully against a tough secondary that could be caught on their
The offensive line has not been kind to Brady. Despite not being
sacked that much, he has been hit and knocked down a great deal. It is not out
of the question that the Patriots' offense may utilize 3-step drops for short
slants and outs to WR's Deion Branch and David Givens as well as some screens
to ensure Brady's timing is optimum.
Here are Brady's game by game stats
The Bills' pass defense is almost the polar opposite of
their run defense. Buffalo is among the top 5 in the AFC in pass yards allowed
per game (153.6), interceptions (9), sacks (16), and QB rating against (66.9).
Troy Vincent is pulling a Rod Woodson-like metamorphosis in his later years switching
from corner to free safety where he has 3 picks and leads the team. He'll be helping
the corners prevent the deep ball on the outside. CB Nate Clements is one of the
best and will have the onerous task of shutting down Deion Branch.
Terrence McGee is a speedy young corner who leads the team with 9 pass deflections. He
will give Givens all he can handle. Old friend Lawyer Milloy is second on the
team in tackles, but hasn't done much in coverage, with only 1 INT and 3 pass
deflections. Getting the ball to tight ends Daniel Graham and Ben Watson should
be at a premium, as they will most likely be matched up on the aging Milloy.
The key to stopping Buffalo's offense is shutting down
RB Willis McGahee. The former Miami Hurricane is having another solid year in
this his second as the starter. However, the Bills have had trouble getting him
going against top run defenses like Tampa Bay and Miami.
Here is how
McGahee has done week to week:
New York Jets
It is still unclear if LB Tedy Bruschi will play this week, but assuming he plays
little if at all, there is a lot of talk that OLB Mike Vrabel will move to the
inside replacing Chad Brown, whose real strength is rushing the passer on the
edge. Vrabel isn't afraid to engage with the guards to free up the other inside
man, but the problem is Monty Beisel has been horrendous in pursuit. More than
likely, Vrabel will be making the plays while Beisel does the grunt work.
If the Pats have trouble stopping McGahee, they will have to make the most of
their chances when the Bills pass. The takeaway department has been the real killer
of the defense this season. Vrabel still has the only INT for the defense, which
is a reflection on how poor the play of the defensive backs has really been.
Veteran QB Kelly Holcomb supplanted second year man J.P. Losman
after Week 4, and he has been fairly solid posting better than an 80.0 rating
in each start. The Bills are 2-1 with him at the helm, compared to 1-3 with Losman.
Here are Holcomb's game by game stats since he became the starter:
rise of Holcomb to alpha dog has helped improve the play of no. 1 WR Eric Moulds.
Here are Moulds' numbers with Losman compared to when Holcomb is under center:
10 rec., 80 yds., 0 TD in 4 games
With Holcomb.. 20 rec., 158
yds., 2 TD in 3 games
The Patriots will need
to generate some pressure to help out the depleted secondary, which is now without
CB Tyrone Poole for the season, joining SS Rodney Harrison and CB Chad Scott on
injured reserve. Getting to the QB has been tough for the Pats, recording only
11 sacks in 6 games, tying them for 11th in the AFC with Oakland, although the
anticipated return of Richard Seymour should help them out a great deal. Other
than Seymour, only one other defender (Willie McGinest with 2.5) has more than
a sack and a half.
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