With the win over the Panthers and the Patriots loss to the Colts in Week 15, the Bills sit just one game back of the top spot in the AFC East with a matchup in Foxboro approaching fast.
The Patriots got the best of the Bills just three weeks ago in a game that ended 14-10. Division games are always more intense because the two teams know each other so well. Heading into this game, there will be adjustments made on both sides after each team saw what the other schemed up in the first matchup. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll spoke with the media Monday afternoon and explained the difficulties of playing a team for the second time in a season.
"It's always a challenge the second time that you're playing a team during the season," Daboll said. "But again, it's going to come down to doing our best to try to come up with a good plan and then ultimately executing that plan. That will be a challenging game because it's always challenging when you play this team."
With the top spot in the AFC East on the line, this game is as important as any. The coaching staff wants the players to treat it like any other week so they can focus on themselves and on getting better each day to make the whole team better.
Josh Allen said after Sunday's game that the team knows the next three games are just like playoff games because they need to win all three to secure a playoff spot and possibly the division. With all that at stake, head coach Sean McDermott doesn't think there's much more he needs to say to energize his players and have a great week of practice.
"Where we are in this season in December here, late December, entering into late December at least," McDermott said. "I think the guys shouldn't lack for much motivation at this point. This is what you work all offseason for and all season. You want to continue to improve your play every week."
McDermott said he's noticed how his team has improved in many areas since the first Patriots matchup. And one area in particular – the red zone. In Week 13 against the Patriots, the Bills were 1-4 in the red zone and since then they were 3-5 against the Buccaneers and 4-5 against the Panthers. One point of emphasis in practice this week will be red zone work because scoring touchdowns in the red zone early in the game Sunday is going to be crucial for their chances of winning. The team knows that if they can get a lead then it will help force the Patriots to become one-dimensional.
"You got to be able to score touchdowns in the red zone," McDermott shared. "I was really proud with what the offense did yesterday and Coach Daboll and the offensive staff. A high level of execution, which is what we're going to need going forward here."
Brian Daboll has never lost confidence in Devin Singletary
On Sunday, the Bills were committed to running the football. Devin Singletary was the workhorse and had 22 carries and 86 yards and a touchdown. Those 22 carries are the most that Singletary has had in his short career and 86 rushing yards is tied for the most he's had in 2020 and 2021. Against the Patriots' 25th ranked run defense, the Bills rushing attack will be key in Sunday's game. Brian Daboll thinks the third-year running back has only become a better player since entering the league.
"I think we've always had confidence in Devin," Daboll stated. "He's just been a consistent player for us. We talk about Dawson a lot. I think Motor's improved since he's been here. He's a guy that we drafted and each year he's gotten a little bit better. The job of a running back is to make yards when you have the ball in your hands and know how to block and be able to block them. I'll simplify it as much as I can. He's certainly a guy that we have trust in and I thought he played a good game yesterday."
Leslie Frazier gives a shoutout to Bills defensive line
Before the Bills defensive coordinator answered questions on Monday, he had a couple of remarks about the performance from his defensive line. Against the Panthers, the Bills D-line had 3.0 sacks, 16 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four QB hits and three passes defensed. It was the second time all season that the defense had more than two sacks and Frazier is encouraged by their effort and wants to see them build off it down the stretch.
"The [defensive line] played so well for us yesterday and they've done a good job for us throughout the year," Frazier said. "And I just wanted to make sure that the audience understood that. We're very supportive of our D-line and really appreciate the work that they put in. I mean, we don't get to be the best pass defense in the league without the work that they've done, as well as we've done on third down and all the other statistical categories. … They're doing some good things. Hopefully, we can just continue to move forward and grow as a group. And just really pleased with the production that they gave us yesterday."