1 - Home stretch starts vs. Pats
Today's contest between the Bills (6-5) and Patriots (9-2) will mark the first of three-straight home games for Buffalo. With five games remaining, the home stretch could be timely for the Bills. They're tied for the best record in the AFC at home.
Buffalo's compiled a 4-1 mark on home turf this season. They're just one of six teams in the NFL with only one loss or less at home.
The Pats bested the Bills last season in Orchard Park. Head coach, Sean McDermott, knows the magnitude of this week's opponent.
"Well listen, I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they do and what they've done. We respect every opponent. Them being the world champs, defending world champs, what they've been able to accomplish is just incredible," McDermott said. "We have to focus on ourselves and we have to focus on our process and our vision for what we're trying to become as an organization and as a team."
Four of the Bills last five games this season are within the division. The Week 13 game will be the first date with the Pats and the two will face off again in Week 16. In Week 15 Miami will come to Buffalo and then the two will close out the season down south in Week 17. Last season, the Bills played four of their six divisional games before Week Nine.
Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, knows the recipe for success against New England. Last year in Week Four, he completed 27-39 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown in route to a 16-0 win. If Taylor can lead the Bills to victory today, they'll improve to 5-1 at home for the first time since 2000.
"It's a big game for us. Great team, Super Bowl champs," said Taylor. "As far as the approach and the mindset, you have to take it week by week and continue to focus on the things to get better. Trust the process and go out there and play ball on Sunday."
2 - Bills rookies atop their draft class
This year's rookie class has been uncommonly productive throughout the season. Every rookie has contributed positively in some way, but there's a few who've dominated at their position.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dion Dawkins (OT), Matt Milano (LB), and Tre'Davious White (CB) each rank top-three at their position among rookies through 12 weeks.
Dawkins is graded the second-highest rookie offensive tackle this season. The top-three include: Ryan Ramczyk (81.6), Dawkins (75.4), and Garett Bolles (69.9). Buffalo's rookie has predominantly played left tackle in place of the injured Cordy Glenn. Dawkins is slated for his fourth-straight start against the Patriots in Week 13. He's played 62-percent of the offensive snaps this season, compared to Glenn's 38-percent.
Milano has the third-highest grade among rookie linebackers. The top-three LBs are: Reuben Foster (87.2), Zach Cunningham (78.2), and Milano (70.4). After playing zero defensive snaps in the first three games, he's played 234 in the past eight outings. Milano's tallied 17 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery that he returned for a 40-yard touchdown.
The Bills first-round pick, White, has lived up to the hype. He's graded the second-highest rookie cornerback so far this season. The top-four includes: Marshon Lattimore (92.7), White (89.0), Desmond King (87.4), and Marlon Humphrey (81.6). Lattimore and White are neck-and-neck for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The LSU product has recorded 41 tackles, 14 passes defended, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble this season.
These first-year players have made their presence felt in their short time in the NFL. If the first 11 games indicate anything, the Bills rookies have a bright future ahead.
3 - Cornelius Bennett this week's Leader of the Charge
Former Buffalo Bills linebacker, Cornelius Bennett, will be leading the charge in today's game against the Patriots. He'll be waving the Bills flag high above the tunnel as the team storms onto the field.
The five-time Pro Bowler played in the NFL from 1987-2000. Bennett spent nine seasons in Buffalo, three in Atlanta, and two in Indianapolis. He was a first-round draft pick by the Colts in 1987, but never suited up for them until 1999.
"First of all, I never had a chance to meet anyone in Indianapolis. I held out the whole half of the season, so I never got a playbook or anything," Bennett said on The John Murphy Show. "Buffalo was really my first team."
Bennett was part of a 10-player trade that sent his rights to Buffalo and Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson to Indianapolis. In his nine years with the Bills, he terrorized opposing offenses. Bennett tallied 751 tackles, 52.5 sacks, and 22 forced fumbles in Buffalo.
It's been almost 20 years since Bennett took the field for an NFL game. He'll be right in the mix as the Bills come out for a crucial contest against the Patriots.
"I haven't done that part of football since I retired," he said. "Being that close to the action for a brief moment, it's going to be exciting."
SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY