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3 key matchups to follow for Bills vs. Patriots | Scouting Report

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3 KEY MATCHUPS

Julian Edelman vs. Bills nickel corners

It's unclear whether nickel corner Taron Johnson will be able to return from a hamstring injury that's kept him out of the last two games. If he can't go, it will fall on Siran Neal and Kevin Johnson to defend the speedy slot receiver. They're the DBs covering the slot receiver in three-wide sets and on third down.

Stephon Gilmore vs. John Brown

Brown has been a reliable option for Josh Allen through the first three weeks. Can he gain consistent separation against one of the better cover corners in the league?

Marshall Newhouse vs. Jerry Hughes

Buffalo's top pass rusher should have opportunities to move Tom Brady off his spot against the veteran offensive tackle. Newhouse is a 10-year veteran, who stepped in for starting LT Isaiah Wynn after he suffered a turf toe injury that's expected to keep him out up to eight weeks. Newhouse appeared in three games for the Bills last season before he was traded to Carolina for a seventh-round pick.

2 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE OPPONENT

Dominant defense

New England's defense has yet to yield a touchdown in their first three games. The Patriots employ a healthy rotation with their front seven and it keeps players fresh throughout. Bill Belichick's defense ranks first in the league in total defense, run defense, pass defense, third down defense, first downs allowed and points against. They're also second in sack percentage.

One last note, New England is the first team in the Super Bowl era to not allow an offensive touchdown in their first three games of a season. They've also held opponents scoreless in the first half in five straight games dating back to last year's postseason.

Run game not clicking yet

Last season, the Patriots had a top five rushing attack, including a 273-yard rushing day against the Bills in 2018. In 2019 however, yards on the ground have been tougher to come by for New England. The offensive backfield for the Patriots is averaging just 97 rushing yards per game.

1 THING THAT COULD DECIDE THE GAME

Takeaways

The chief thing that will give Buffalo a quality chance at victory will be to force some turnovers by New England and turn those mistakes into points. Getting more possessions for Buffalo's offense than the Patriots will be a must to come out ahead on the scoreboard.

UNDERCURRENTS

  • Patriots LB Jamie Collins has been a one-man wrecking crew in his return to New England this past offseason. He leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and is second in pass breakups and interceptions.
  • New England FB James Develin was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury this week. He has been a critical component to the Patriots power run game out of two-back sets. It will be interesting to see how their run game changes in terms of personnel groupings without him.
  • Patriots rookie P Jake Bailey was just named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance last week against the Jets. Seven punts with a 44.3 gross average, 41.1 net and five punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
  • As if the New England defense needed to lead the league in any other category, they're tops in red zone defense as well. Obviously, they haven't given up a touchdown in the red zone, but they also lead the NFL in red zone possessions allowed. Opponents thus far have penetrated the Patriots' 20-yard line just twice this season.
  • S Devin McCourty is the only player in the league with an interception in each of the first three games this season. He had an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown last season at Buffalo.

Scroll through to see the best photos from Buffalo's practice as they prepare for Week 4 against the New England Patriots.

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