What to Watch For: Patriots vs Bills
Monday, October 29, 2018
New England Patriots are back on the road this week when they visit the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
The Patriots enter the game with a record of 5-2 overall, while the Bills come in with a record of 2-5 overall.
“I don't think anyone really cares about those records. They're a good team. They always play us tough. It's always a battle up there. I know we've had success but I think it's because we’ve never thought that, "Oh man, this one's going to be [easy]. We should just win this one." They're all tough and these guys play as hard as anybody we face,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Saturday.
Despite the Bills losing record, it will be a hostile environment on Monday night.
"It's going to be nuts – hands down. The games are nuts on a Sunday at 1 o'clock. From Buffalo, they're going to be starting early. The party is going to probably be starting at 10:00 a.m. and it's going to go until after the game, maybe even longer. It's going to be popping, just straight popping," said Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski during his press conference on Saturday.
Game time is set for 8:20 p.m.
Patriots vs Bills
Monday night’s game will be the 117 meeting all-time between the two franchises with the Patriots leading the series 72-43-1.
Last season, the New England went to Buffalo and defeated the Bills 23-3, and a couple of weeks later beat Buffalo 37-16 at Gillette Stadium.
The last Buffalo wince in October of 2016 when they shut out the Patriots 16-0 at Gillette Stadium.
Related Slideshow: 5 Things to Watch For: Patriots vs Bills - October 2018
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski did not play last week after his back tightened up in practice just a couple of days before the game.
During his press conference on Saturday Gronkowski said that he is feeling better and is expecting to play.
"I feel better. I've been taking steps every single day forward and that's all I can ask for. Taking steps every day forward and definitely at this time last week I feel way better because every day I’ve been taking steps forward to get better and to get back out on the field to help out this team."
Gronkowski did not practice on Wednesday and was listed as limited on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Gronkowski, who is from Buffalo, has historically torched his hometown team.
In 13 games against the Bills, Gronkowski has 66 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In two games against Buffalo last season, Gronkowski hauled in 14 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown.
"It's always special to go up there. This is my seventh or eighth time going up there and playing in Buffalo. It’s always an honor. It's always special to go up where you grew up watching them and everything. It's cool."
The Patriots defense has given up 92 points and over 1,200 yards in the last ten quarters, but this week they are going up against one of the worst offenses in the league.
Buffalo has scored just 31 points over the last four games and quarterback Derek Anderson has three interceptions in three games and no touchdown passes. He has a quarterback rating of 39.8.
"Offensively, some explosive players - running backs, tight ends, receivers. Anderson's obviously a really experienced guy that both Brian [Daboll] and Sean [McDermott] have a lot of experience with. I'm sure he'll be able to handle things the way they want it done," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his press conference on Wednesday.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy is questionable with a concussion.
He is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry so far this season and is averaging just 40 rushing yards per game.
Belichick added, "He's had a lot of great runs. When the hole is there, that's a problem. But he makes plays when the defense overpursues and he cuts back. He's very good in the passing game, good short yardage and goal line runner, gets tough yards. I mean, he can do it all. He's a great player. He's hard to tackle, hard to stop."
With two fumbles and an interception last week against Chicago, the Patriots are among the worst teams in the league when it comes to giveaways.
New England has turned the ball over 13 times so far this season, which is tied for the seventh most in the NFL with Miami and Indianapolis.
The Bills defense comes into the game having caused 12 turnovers (7 fumbles, 5 interceptions) on the season, which is ninth best in the NFL.
"They blitz everybody. They keep it moving. They've got a lot of defensive calls. I think they have a lot of good players. If you have your eyes in the wrong place, they take advantage," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Saturday.
Defensively, Buffalo is third in the league in pass yards allowed per attempt with 6.7, and eighth in sacks with 29 on the season.
"Defensively, this has been a really impressive group," Belichick said. "They don't give up many yards, turn the ball over, really good up front, make a lot of negative plays, sack the quarterback, tackles for loss, turnovers. They're really good in their kickoff coverage, punt coverage units. They do a really good job on that. Those are mostly defensive players," said Belichick.
Sony Michel practiced this week, but is doubtful for the game meaning that James White will be an even bigger part of the offense.
So far this season, White has 45 catches for 380 yards and six receiving touchdowns. He averages 8.4 yards per catch.
White has 40 rushing attempts for 189 yards and one rushing touchdown for the Patriots.
"I just want to make the most of the opportunities that I get and just have fun out there and play to the best of my abilities. That's all it is. It doesn't matter whether it's 10 touches, one touch, 20 touches. It doesn't really matter. Just go out there and play hard and do whatever I can to help this team and take care of my body to make sure I'm available," said White during his press conference on Wednesday.
The other two running backs on the Patriots roster are Kenjon Barner and Kenneth Farrow.
"They're working hard, trying to learn as much as possible. It can be a lot thrown at you pretty fast, but they're willing to work, ask the questions and they try to go out there and perform on the practice field. You can tell it's showing up for Kenjon in the game. He's running hard, doing everything he needs to do," said White.
Josh Gordon is continuing to make an impact on the Patriots offense with his role seemingly increasing every week.
In four games with New England, Gordon has 13 catches for 224 yards and one touchdown.
Last week in Chicago, he was targeted seven times and hauled in nine catches for 100 yards.
"I just think it's so impressive, in my view, what he's done in a short period of time and how he's assumed this specific role in our offense. Last week – I don’t know how much participation it was – but it was a lot. That's a very challenging thing to do. The receiver position in our offense takes years for most guys to understand and learn nuances and intricacies of not only our plays, but how to get open within the scheme, how to gain my trust, and he's done it in such a short period of time," said Brady.
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