In the last two weeks the New England Patriots have lost their feature running back in Dion Lewis and their top receiver in Julian Edelman. Add in that they've already lost their starting left tackle for the season in Nate Solder and those are three pretty significant elements missing from an offense. Heading into their second matchup with New England however, the Bills don't believe it'll change much in the Patriots' offensive approach or their effectiveness.
"I don't think it will change at all," said Bacarri Rambo, who is coming off a career game with three takeaways last week. "With somebody like (Tom) Brady, no matter who they put out there he knows who to go to and where to put the ball and it's still going to be a tough challenge. It doesn't matter who they have at receiver as long as they have number 12 out there he's going to get the job done so we've got to bring our 'A' game."
Dismissing the absence of Edelman and Lewis however, seems like an oversight. The two have combined for more than 35 percent of New England's offensive yardage this season and almost a third of their touchdowns. It should make the Patriots attack more vulnerable, but the Bills have seen New England persevere before.
"I think it's going to hurt them a little bit," said Manny Lawson of the loss of Edelman. "He was a key player to their offense especially a guy as quick and talented he is and catch the ball in the middle amongst linebackers and make guys miss, and in the punt return game. It's a loss for them, but I'm pretty sure they're going to have somebody step up in that role."
Expected to step into that slot role is veteran Danny Amendola. When New England signed Amendola as a free agent in 2013 the Patriots envisioned him assuming the slot receiver role left behind by Wes Welker, who signed with Denver as a free agent. But Edelman won the role and hasn't relinquished it until now.
Amendola has had his moments against the Bills, most notably his leaping reception down the seam in New England's Week 2 win that set up a chip shot field goal after Buffalo had cut the lead to five with four minutes left.
Most probably don't remember the four catches for 26 yards by Amendola on the Patriots game-winning field goal drive in Week 1 against the Bills in the 2013 opener.
Last week after Edelman left the game against the Giants with a broken foot, Amendola caught 10 of 11 targets for 76 yards.
New England will also have WR Brandon LaFell, who did not play in the first meeting with the Bills in Week 2 because he was on Reserve/PUP. He's been back in the fold for a few weeks.
"You still have to respect Brandon," Rambo said. "He's a great guy who runs good routes and has good ball skills so we have to keep an eye on him Monday."
Bills head coach Rex Ryan believes his defense has improved considerably since giving up a team record 466 passing yards to Brady and the Patriots offense a little over two months ago. He's preaching more consistent and tighter coverage with his players this week to keep Brady from getting the ball out as quickly as he did in the first meeting.
As for New England adjusting to the loss of Edelman and Lewis, Belichick's primary concern seems to be the on field rapport he feels his offense is missing with the two playmakers out of the lineup.
"Just the amount of timing that those players have with each other, with the quarterback, with Josh [McDaniels] the offensive coordinator and being able to have experience in doing a lot of those things, that's really hard to replace," Belichick said of Edelman and Lewis. "You just can't do it. They've been out there taking a lot of snaps, a lot of reps and getting that timing and that execution right, and the other person just hasn't been able to do it. That's an element of it that we're going to have to try to obviously work on."
The Bills however, know all too well how effective Belichick is at filling the void left behind by injured players. "It's hard because Belichick is a very crafty coach and he comes up with different schemes and ways to use the guys he has available," said Lawson. "That's exactly what we're expecting him to do. We'll have to adjust to it with what's thrown at us and do our best to overcome it."