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NFL Preview: Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots

Week 16 Showdown in Foxborough

This week, the Buffalo Bills head to Foxborough for an AFC East division matchup vs the New England Patriots. It is once again the Monday Night Football matchup of the week. The first encounter this season saw the Bills snatch a victory from the hands of Cam Newton. Cam fumbled the ball inside the Bills 15 yard line with 37 seconds left in the game and turned it over to the Bills. Josh Allen then knelt down three times to kill the clock and end the game.

Week 16 will feature a young Buffalo quarterback, who has ascended into the top tier of the QBs, and even into early league MVP conversations. In contrast, the opposing QB has fallen from grace this season and looks to be on his way out of a starting job in the NFL.

The weather in New England Monday night is supposed to be a balmy 42 degrees and rainy. But before we dig into this weeks matchup, let’s look at how each team fared last week.

What We Saw Last Week

Bills Offense

Josh Allen once again came out of the gate throwing strikes to his two favorite wide receivers, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. After a missed Broncos field goal, the Bills took over on their own 41 yard line. Thirteen plays later, after a 6 minute drive, Josh Allen hit Dawson Knox in the end zone for the first TD of the game. The train kept rolling throughout the entire game and the Bills easily beat Denver 48-19.

Josh Allen

  • Passing: 28/40/359/2/0
  • Rushing: 3/33/2
  • QBR: 114.5

Stefon Diggs

  • Receiving: 11/13/147/0

Cole Beasley

  • Receiving: 8/10/112/0

Singletary

  • Rushing: 8/68/1
  • Receiving: 3/16/0

Moss

  • Rushing: 13/81/0

Unimpressive Backfield

There are two important takeaways from this game. The first is that despite the box score, it was Singletary who led the backfield throughout the game, not Zack Moss. Although Moss led the team in carries, 7 of his 13 rushing attempts came during one drive in the 4th quarter, when the Bills were killing the clock. Singletary, on the other hand, started the game and saw most of his touches while the game was still competitive.  That said, he still is not to be credited as a hero. His 51 yard TD at the end of the game was against a very disinterested Denver defense. The 5’7″ back weaved his way through the first two lines of defense and then into the end zone. To say that the tackling effort from the Broncos secondary was unimpressive is a gross understatement; it was as bad as we’ve seen all season.

The Allen/Diggs Connection

The second, and most important takeaway, is that Josh Allen continues to remain calm in the pocket under pressure and consistently connects with his receivers down field. He completed 70 percent of his passes and could have had an even better day if not for offensive penalties, and a rare misstep by Diggs on a deep pass down the sidelines. It is a catch that Diggs makes 99/100 times, but in this instance stepped out of bounds before completing the catch. He tapped his chest on the way back to the huddle. He did not make the same mistake again.

Patriots Offense

The only real storyline we need to concern ourselves with regarding the Patriots’ offense last week is just how bad Cam Newton looked on film. Over and over again he missed his receivers. Several of his passes were severely under thrown. The only time Cam was able to complete his passes were short dump-offs and the odd good throw 10 yards down field. Miami beat the Patriots by 10 with a score of 22-12. Neither team looked overly impressive on offense, but here is the stat line for Cam last week:

Cam Newton

  • Passing: 17/27/209/0/0
  • Rushing: 9/38/0
  • QBR: 86.8

He was horrendous last week and should have been benched. It was nothing short of embarrassing seeing a former MVP look so bad.

Bills Defense

Buffalo once again held their own on defense with perhaps the most impressive play of the day coming from Jerry Hughes. In the 3rd quarter, Tre’davious White came around the left end on a blitz. He stripped the ball out of Lock’s hands on the sack and caused him to fumble the ball away on his own 21 yard line. Hughes picked it up and scampered his way into the end zone for the touchdown.

Defense

  • Rushing yards allowed: 140
  • Rushing TDs allowed: 2
  • Defensive TDs scored: 1
  • Receiving yards allowed: 132
  • Receiving TDs allowed: 1
  • Forced Fumbles: 1
  • Interceptions: 0

Patriots Defense

The Pats’ defensive storyline from last week concerns one of the top corner backs in the league, Stephon Gilmore, who tore his quad. He was placed on IR this week and is scheduled for surgery next week. He is a huge loss to the already depleted NE defense.

Defense

  • Rushing yards allowed: 250
  • Rushing TDs allowed: 3
  • Receiving yards allowed: 145
  • Receiving TDs allowed: 0
  • Forced Fumbles: 0
  • Interceptions: 1

What to Expect This Week

Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots

Bills Key to Victory

The Bills simply need to keep on keeping on. Do what they do best, and throw the ball down the field to their top two receivers. Diggs and Beasley have been spectacular this season in their respective roles and there is no reason to expect any different this week. The run game will need to improve before the playoffs, but this week the air attack will suffice.

Patriots Key to Victory

Last week Sony Michel had a few good runs against the Dolphins defense. If NE have any hope of defeating the Bills this week, they will need the rushing attack to succeed on a much larger scale. The Bills defense barley held on in Week 8, but the Patriots are not facing that inefficient team this time around. If Cam Newton can scramble up the middle and hold onto the ball, it should soften some of the coverage down field, allowing for passing windows to open up. With an efficient passing game, Sony Michel should be able to grind out a few nice gains and hope for a touchdown or two. The game clock is key this week, and if Bill Belichick and the Patriots do not control the majority of it then they’re in for a very rough night.

Fantasy Outlook

Bills

Josh Allen

  • Passing: 25/35/340/3/0
  • Rushing: 4/35/1

Stefon Diggs

  • Receiving: 10/135/2

Cole Beasley

  • Receiving: 8/105/0

Singletary

  • Rushing: 8/60/0
  • Receiving: 3/15/0

Moss

  • Rushing: 15/85/1

Patriots

Cam Newton

  • Passing: 19/30/185/0 +1interception
  • Rushing: 9/55/1 +1 fumble

Sony Michel

  • Rushing: 13/80/1
  • Receiving: 1/5/0

Final Thoughts

While both Josh Allen and Cam Newton have been successful scoring touchdowns by running (8 and 11, respectively), these two are not on the same level in the passing game. Josh’s completion percentage this year is a very impressive 68.7%; Cam is just shy of 67% on the season. The 1.7% difference in completion percentage, however, simply does not give you the whole picture. To give this stat some perspective, Josh has completed 351/511 throwing attempts for 4,000 yards, while Cam has completed 216/328 passes for just 2,381 yards. Allen has completed more passes than Cam has attempted this season for almost double the passing yards.

Throughout the past 20 years, the Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots head to head matchups have been dominated by the Patriots. The tides have turned for Buffalo this season, and I expect this game to go largely as it did last week for the Bills. The game will get out of hand quickly, and Buffalo will win this one with ease, 44-17.

For more predictions on other Week 16 games, click here.

Written by Tom Ayling

I am Canadian, an NFL Fanatic, and proud member of #BillsMafia. I watch game film and write about what I see on tape, not just the box scores.

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