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'We need all hands on deck' | Josh Allen and the Bills aren't overlooking the New England Patriots

FTLR Wk. 7

Josh Allen was listed as limited for Wednesday's walkthrough with a right shoulder injury as the Buffalo Bills prepare to face the New England Patriots Sunday.

Allen said he would be ready to play once Sunday rolls around.

"No concern, we'll be ready to go," Allen said after practice.

Added head coach Sean McDermott, " I'll know more a little bit after today and seeing how he does out there. Always a concern, we've been around each other enough that he'll communicate if things raise to a certain level. Right now it's a one day at a time approach,"

Running back Damien Harris (concussion protocol and neck), tight end Quintin Morris (ankle) and defensive tackle Ed Oliver (toe) missed Wednesday's practice.

Looking Ahead

The Buffalo Bills are not underestimating the 1-5 New England Patriots, who they will play on the road this Sunday.

"They could easily have won a few of those games, so for us we understand that it's in the division, it's a Bill Belichick-coached team, Bill Belichick-coached defense," said center Mitch Morse after Wednesday's walkthrough. "For us, we know that we need all hands on deck, we're gonna see multiple looks, we're gonna have to make in-game adjustments and we gonna have to battle, because these guys are very well-coached and play very well."

With Belichick at the helm, the Patriots have won over 65% of their games, nine AFC Championships and six Super Bowls. In his tenure in New England, the Patriots have won 36 of their 46 matchups against Buffalo.

However, the trend has reversed in recent years. The Bills are 6-1 in their last seven games against the Patriots and became the first team to beat New England by 10 or more points in three consecutive games since Belichick took the reins in New England in 2000.

The Bills will wear white jerseys with white pants and white socks in Sunday's AFC East showdown at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

The Patriots have the worst turnover differential (-8) in the NFL and have scored two touchdowns in their last three games, but Allen doesn't care about any narratives surrounding New England's lack of early success this season.

"At the end of the day, it's the National Football League," Allen said. "The other 31 teams want to win a Super Bowl, just like us. The other guys get paid, just like us. It's no easy task to win in this league consistently. It really isn't."

Under Belichick, the Patriots have consistently ranked among the best defenses in the league. Although injuries to pass rusher Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez have hampered the Patriots defense, they will still field a talented roster led by one of the best defensive minds in the game.

"Obviously getting [cornerback] JC Jackson back, who was there for a while and played really well in that system, so making sure we're okay with that. [Linebacker Josh] Uche, has been rushing the quarterback really well, so we gotta make sure we have a plan for him. But they switch it up and there's no single thing that you can expect them to do."

One thing that the Bills might reasonably expect the Patriots to do is blitz Allen. The Patriots have the sixth-highest blitz rate in the NFL, seeking to quickly put pressure on the passer and either force an errant throw or a sack — although they hold subpar pressure and sack rates despite having a tendency to blitz.

Belichick might call off the blitz more than usual Sunday, as Allen has been one of the best quarterbacks when blitzed, sporting a passer rating of 123.1 when facing more than four pass rushers (second-highest in NFL). He's 1 of 4 QBs this season with 5+ touchdown passes and no interceptions vs. the blitz.

Allen credited his receivers' ability to beat man coverage and pre-snap adjustments as the primary reasons behind his success against the blitz.

"Our hot routes are designed for that and I think just the ability to keep plays alive and our guys are smart enough to find windows in the defense," Allen said. "It's hard to cover for a long period of time, so if they don't get to me, it gives our guys opportunities down the field to make some plays."

Morse knows that the Bills' success against the blitz comes in part from having one of the best playmakers in the league calling the plays, but also emphasized the importance of communication on offense.

"I'm not gonna take anything away from Josh just being a superstar stud," Morse said. "I think our communication is at a premium, especially when you're in the red zone. You got to capitalize on field position, getting away with points once you cross a certain barrier and that's where it's like, alright, let's make sure we don't get any penalties or negative plays because at least we're gonna get a field goal out of this, and that's why you get a lot of pressure when you cross a certain point because they're gonna try to kick you out of field goal range and make a big play.

"So just communicating, Josh knows what he wants, he's gonna put us in positions that he deems fit and then for us just acting on that down the line."

The Bills have scored a touchdown on 75 percent of their trips to the red zone, behind only the Miami Dolphins (80 percent) for the highest red zone touchdown rate in the league.

McDermott has consistently expressed his belief that the game is won at the line of scrimmage, which edge rusher Von Miller echoed during Wednesday's time with the media. He said that the depth and talent of the Bills defensive line has led them to becoming one of the best pass rushes in the league in the first six weeks.

"I just think the type of guys that we got in that room from Leonard Floyd, Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver, everybody in there is doing a really great job of rushing the quarterback. It's a really, really talented room and we have a really good leader in Coach [Eric] Washington," Miller said. "[McDermott] believes the game starts and ends with the offensive and defensive lines, so we've been highly motivated this season, we're always motivated, but highly motivated this season to go in there and get the job done."

While the Bills defense sends five or more pass rushers at the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL, they still lead the league in sack percentage and have the fourth-highest pressure rate.

However, the numbers can be thrown out when McDermott's Bills travels to Foxborough on Sunday afternoon. Like Allen, the head coach is aware of Belichick's innate ability to win football games; if things go the Patriots' way on Sunday, it would mark the future Hall of Famer's 300th career win.

"We've got great respect for the Patriots and what they've accomplished. They have a deep history of winning and that's not an easy thing to do in this league," McDermott said before practice. "Our focus and sole focus needs to be on this week's game."

Scroll to see photos from the Buffalo Bills Huddle for Hunger High School Challenge and Fan Food Drive with the Rookie Club.

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