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3 key matchups to follow for Bills at Patriots | Scouting Report



1. John Brown vs. Stephon Gilmore

Brown managed five receptions for 69 yards in the first matchup with one of the league's top corners. Can the 1,000-yard wideout put up an even better performance Saturday?

2. Cody Ford vs. Kyle Van Noy

This duty will be shared by Ford with the tight end depending on Van Noy's alignment, but the athletic Van Noy had two sacks, two QB hits and two forced fumbles in the first meeting.

3. Taron Johnson vs. Julian Edelman

The Bills put together a good plan for Edelman who had just four receptions for 30 yards in the first meeting, and that was without Johnson in the lineup. Buffalo's nickel corner has put together a good stretch of play of late and Edelman is not 100 percent healthy (see below).

2 Things to know about the Patriots

1. Run game options?

The Cincinnati Bengals demonstrated last week that teams can run the ball against the Patriots top ranked defense. Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard combined for 163 yards on 30 carries for a 5.4 yards per carry average. It was the Bengals three turnovers that did them in, which is a similar narrative to Buffalo's first meeting with New England.

The Bills also ran the ball effectively back in Week 4, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, but four turnovers did them in as well. And that was without Devin Singletary, who was inactive with a hamstring injury.

2. Pats pass game struggling to find completions

New England's passing game has had a tough time stringing completions together. Sometimes it's good defense. Sometimes it's ball location. Other times it's miscommunication. The bottom line is the Patriots have not had a completion percentage over 57 percent in their last five games. In fact, in three of their last four games, Tom Brady's completion percentage hasn't been above 52 percent.

1 Thing that could decide the game

A superior defense

Buffalo won a tight game in Pittsburgh last week because their top five defense outplayed Pittsburgh's top five defense. They'll need to do the same on Saturday to keep the game close so the burden on Buffalo's offense is reduced knowing they're facing the top ranked defense in the NFL.


--There have been reports that Julian Edelman is dealing with tendon damage in his left knee and that it has compromised his effectiveness. He still played 62 percent of the team's offensive snaps last week, but had just a pair of receptions for nine yards. The passing game went more through Mohamed Sanu against the Bengals in Week 15. Edelman was limited in practice on Tuesday.

--Patriots rookie WR N'Keal Harry saw a big uptick in snaps in last week's game at Cincinnati as he saw 38 snaps and saw his number called six times with four coming on passing targets and two others on jet sweeps. Harry only had 15 yards receiving and a touchdown, but he did have a long reception called back on penalty. It appears the offensive staff is making an effort to get the first-round pick more involved down the stretch.

--Four for four: Last week against the Bengals, the New England defense registered four interceptions with cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson each accounting for a pair. It is the fourth time this season that the Patriots have registered four interceptions in a game, something they did against the Bills in their first meeting in Week 4.

--Nickel CB Jonathan Jones has been unable to practice this week due to a groin injury. If he can't play on Saturday it would present a clear matchup advantage to Buffalo's slot receiver Cole Beasley.

--The Patriots have scored seven non-offensive touchdowns this season. Two have come on blocked punts, including one in Buffalo. Three have come off interceptions and two fumbles have been returned for touchdowns. New England's team record for most non-offensive touchdowns in a season is nine, which was last accomplished in 2010.

--Fewer than half of the completions made against New England's defense this season have gone for first downs, let along touchdowns. The Patriots are second in the league to San Francisco, with just 47 percent of their completions allowed moving the sticks or resulting in a scoring play.

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