Top 3 Individual Matchups
Marcell Dareus vs. David AndrewsBuffalo's Pro Bowl defensive tackle will be a handful for the rookie pivot man to say the least. Andrews and Dareus are both SEC products, but with crowd noise and a snap count to deal with, Andrews is going to need some assistance with Mr. Big Stuff.
Sammy Watkins vs. Malcolm ButlerThe Patriots had Butler follow Pittsburgh's top wideout Antonio Brown all over the field. That doesn't mean they'll repeat the same practice against the Bills with Watkins, especially considering that Brown had nine catches for 133 yards and a TD. But knowing the other Patriots cornerbacks aren't world beaters this could very well be the matchup.
Aaron Williams vs. Rob GronkowskiGronkowski averages just over five catches a game against the Bills, and has nine touchdowns in seven career games vs. Buffalo. Williams figures to draw Gronk as a main coverage assignment, but Rex Ryan is likely to employ double teams and use his more athletic linebackers to cover the All-Pro tight end at times.
Top 2 Bills advantages
Good advantage – Run gameBuffalo's ground game wasn't at its best last week, but going against a Patriots run front that is still trying to round into form could present some good opportunities. LeSean McCoy will be very motivated to be productive after a down week last Sunday while New England is hoping to plug some of the holes they let the Steelers run through last week as DeAngelo Williams averaged six yards per carry. McCoy however, is questionable for Sunday's game with his hamstring still experiencing soreness and tightness.
Best advantage – Pass rushThe Bills didn't rack up sacks against Andrew Luck in Week 1, and likely won't have many against Tom Brady who gets the ball out quickly. However, Buffalo was very effective in hurrying throws and moving Luck off his spot in the pocket last week and getting some hits in as well. Luck completed just 53 percent of his passes last Sunday with a 63.6 passer rating.
Bills Number 1 Must
Disrupt Patriots offensive timingThere is a rhythm and synchronization to New England's passing game and Tom Brady is the conductor. Buffalo's defensive scheme and blitz packages have to be effective in throwing off the timing of the Patriots offense. Whether it's disguising coverage, disrupting receiver routes, or collapsing the pocket, Buffalo's defense has to put stress on different elements of New England's passing attack. That should make long, sustained drives difficult and hopefully keep the Pats from piling up points.
Young on the lineNew England's offensive line is making use of a few more younger players than they anticipated going into the season. With starting C Bryan Stork on injured reserve/designated to return, New England has been forced to start undrafted rookie center David Andrews in the pivot. Last week they also had to start rookie fourth-round pick Shaq Mason at left guard with Ryan Wendell out. Wendell has been limited in practice this week, which could prompt the Patriots to start the two rookies again inside against a pair of Pro Bowl defensive tackles for the Bills.
Blount returnsNew England starting RB LeGarrette Blount is back on the 53-man roster after serving a one-game league-imposed suspension. At 250 pounds, Blount has proven to be a difficult ball carrier to bring down. He's averaged 7.4 yards per carry in his last two outings against the Bills. Head coach Rex Ryan expects to see Blount as the Patriots main rusher Sunday.
Double troubleRob Gronkowski is enough of a size mismatch all by himself. Now he has a tight end partner who is just as big a mismatch in terms of height. Former Bills TE Scott Chandler now lines up alongside Gronkowski in New England. The two combined for all four touchdowns scored by the Patriots in their Week 1 win over Pittsburgh. Gronk had three and Chandler had the other one on a one-yard reception. Two big targets like that in the red zone could lead to matchup issues.
Sorting out the catchersThe Patriots are still ironing out their receiver position after placing veteran Brandon LaFell on Reserve/PUP. New England really only has two proven receivers in Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. That's part of why they traded for Houston WR Keshawn Martin Wednesday. Martin (5-11, 194) is known as a run after catch receiver, which works well with New England's passing game approach. He should also pick up New England's offense relatively quick knowing he operated in a similar scheme in Houston under Bill O'Brien a former offensive coordinator of Bill Belichick's. At this point Martin is expected to serve as a punt returner so Edelman and Amendola can focus on wideout only.
Surrendering chunksThe Patriots defense did not have a great day in Week 1. Granted their offense did stake them to a sizable lead by the third quarter and New England backed off a bit, but they gave up yardage in big chunks. Ben Roethlisberger completed better than 68 percent of his passes and averaged over nine yards an attempt. Pittsburgh had six plays of 25 yards or more last week.
Picking up where he left offTom Brady may have missed a good portion of training camp and preseason action this summer during Deflate-gate negotiations and court appearances, but he didn't show any signs of rust in Week 1. He completed more than 78 percent of his passes and they weren't all dink and dunk throws. Brady averaged nine yards an attempt against the Steelers and finished with 288 passing yards with four TDs. The offense was a perfect 4-for-4 in the red zone and 7-for-11 on third down conversions. Brady's passer rating was 143.8.
Quote of the week"Am I happy that he's playing? Absolutely. That was my number one thing, for him to play. If he didn't play it would've been the same attitude toward me. My thing is that we're going to beat New England and everybody has to feel confident in that."
--S Aaron Williams on Tom Brady
Stat of the weekJulian Edelman is averaging over 100 yards receiving a game in his last six games (101.2) stretching back to last year's playoffs. He has 52 catches for 607 yards over that span.
Milestones in reach
Nigel Bradham needs seven tackles for 200 career tackles
LeSean McCoy is 167 rushing yards away from 7,000 in his career.
With a passer rating above 100.0, Tyrod Taylor would join Jim Kelly (1991) and Joe Ferguson (1974, 1981) as the only quarterbacks in team history to start a season with consecutive games above 100.0.
Sammy Watkins needs 18 receiving yards for 1,000 in his career.
Final noteSince 2000, the Patriots are 40-1 when a New England player rushes for 100 yards or more.