1. Bills lose defensive tackle Harrison Phillips
It was a gut punch for Buffalo's defensive line on Monday when an MRI revealed that defensive tackle Harrison Phillips suffered a torn ACL in Sunday's game against the Bengals.
"Harrison Phillips will be out for the year," said head coach Sean McDermott. "It's unfortunate. A young player that's been developing and was having a very good year and was an important piece for our defense. We'll have him mend up and guys will step up and step in and we'll go on from there.
"It's unfortunate and sad because he worked extremely hard. It'll be good having him around albeit off the field."
This is not the first ACL injury of Phillips' football career. He tore his ACL in college at Stanford in the first game of his sophomore season for the Cardinal in 2015. The defensive tackle returned to appear in 26 games over the final two years of his college career.
McDermott said he and general manager Brandon Beane have already had discussions on how to address the void at defensive tackle in place of Phillips.
Buffalo has a pair of defensive tackles on the practice squad in Kyle Peko and Vincent Taylor. Taylor (6-3, 311) has played in 21 NFL games with the Dolphins over the last two seasons. Peko appeared in seven games between the 2016 and 2017 seasons with Denver before serving on Buffalo's practice squad last year.
2. Defending champs will be a challenge
It'll be a battle of 3-0 teams on Sunday at New Era Field when the division rival Patriots come to Orchard Park. Though both New England and Buffalo are unbeaten, the Patriots have won convincingly in each of their first three games outscoring their opponents 106 to 17.
"They're the defending champs and no one has come close to even touching them at this point," McDermott said. "No one has come close to beating them. The games have been pretty much over by halftime. We've got to focus on what we do and our process. We've got a lot of work to do and a lot of areas we need to improve fundamentally. This will be another opportunity for us."
As many headlines as New England's offense grabs, it's their league-leading defense that has been extremely impressive. The Patriots lead the league in total defense, run defense, pass defense, third down defense and points allowed.
"They play really good team defense," said Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. "A lot of different players get playing time. It's going to be a big-time challenge."
Through three games the Patriots defense has not surrendered an offensive touchdown to their opponents.
"That's unbelievable. I don't think I've ever been around that or heard about that to this point in a season," said McDermott. "What they're doing and how they're doing it and playing really well with a bunch of good players. They're doing some really cool things on defense."
3. Josh Allen learning how to balance risk and reward
Bills quarterback Josh Allen has helped to engineer comeback efforts in each of the team's first three games to secure victories. There have also been a few instances where Allen has tried to do too much and by his own admission has been careless with the football.
Coach McDermott sees it as a learning process for Allen in balancing risk and reward.
"He's just got to do his job and part of doing his job in this case is taking care of the football," he said. "Through the course of the game he made a lot of special plays. So that's all part of the growth and development of a young quarterback."
Through three games, for all the good that Allen has done for his team, he has also thrown three interceptions and lost a pair of fumbles.
Buffalo's head coach recognizes that Allen's athleticism gives him the ability to extend plays when they do not initially unfold as they're designed. As much as that can aid and assist the execution of the offense, there is a discipline to a quarterback's decision making that must be omnipresent.
"That's about Josh's athleticism and I've been around some athletic quarterbacks in my past and it can work both ways sometimes," McDermott said. "So you just have to continue to understand your job and be one-eleventh of what we're trying to do and we'll move the football effectively when we do that. And Josh knows when you don't take care of the football you put your team in harm's way. That's an area where we have to do a better job."