Scouting Report - Week 4 - Bills-Patriots

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Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 - Preston Brown vs. LeGarrette Blount
Knowing the bulk of Blount's carries take place between the tackles Brown will need to be the man that meets the 250-pound back in the hole. Brown has been stout against the run this season, and Arizona's David Johnson may serve as good prep when it comes to facing a big back like the league's leading rusher.

2 - Aaron Williams vs. Rob GronkowskiBuffalo's safety will try to stop the Bills touchdown killer in yet another meeting with the tight end. LB Zach Brown may offer some coverage help here as he runs very well and can bring more physicality to the matchup.

3 - Kyle Williams vs. Joe ThuneyThe veteran defensive lineman abused Arizona's offensive front last week. On Sunday he'll draw the Patriots rookie left guard. Williams figures to draw extra attention as New England C David Andrews may need to slide in Williams' direction to keep him out of the Patriots offensive backfield.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage - Run game
New England is very good at taking away their opponent's number one strength and for the Bills this is it. Buffalo has found a way to run on even the best defensive fronts. The Patriots defense is underrated, but the Bills offense should be able to grind out some yards to keep their game plan intact.

Best advantage - Red zone offenseThe Patriots defense has only given opponents six opportunities in the red zone, but when opposing offenses get there they score touchdowns. New England's red zone defense is currently ranked 31st in the league. Buffalo's offense has been successful in punching in red zone possessions ranking third in the NFL in touchdown percentage (75%).

Bills Number 1 Must
Start fast
Getting up on the scoreboard early won't be easy, as you'll see below, but if the offense can put up points first it caters to their offensive approach of run first, and will allow Buffalo's game plan to unfold without having to make major adjustments.

Scouting Eye
QB questions
It's not certain who, but it appears as though the Patriots will have at least one of their Tom Brady understudies healthy enough to play against the Bills Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo's sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder has recovered enough to enable him to throw in practice this week. Jacoby Brissett also practiced, but did not reveal much about whether the injured thumb on his throwing hand is affecting his grip on the ball and throwing ability. New England's offense functions more like it does with Tom Brady at quarterback when Garoppolo is the stand in for the suspended All-Pro. Brissett attempted just 19 passes in his first career start last week against the Texans.  

Fast startersNew England is 3-0 for a lot of reasons. One of those contributing factors has been their ability to jump out to early leads on their opponents. In fact through the first three weeks of the season the Patriots have not surrendered a point in the first quarter. New England is outscoring their opponents 34-0 in the opening quarter of games.

In their 180 minutes of football so far this season the Patriots have held the lead for all but 30 of those minutes (149 minutes, 32 seconds).

Battering BlountBuffalo's run defense is all too familiar with LeGarrette Blount's rushing talents. The rest of the league is apparently getting a good taste at the start of this season as well. With Brady out of the lineup, the Patriots have leaned on their run game more than they have in the past. The results have been downright impressive.

Blount is the NFL's leading rusher through the first three weeks with 298 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. He was just named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September. With New England establishing early leads it has allowed them to pound yards out on the ground more often.

In Buffalo's last meeting with the Patriots their run defense held Blount to 56 yards on 16 carries.

Double TroubleThis might be the week where the Patriots finally unleash their tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Gronkowski has been plagued by a hamstring injury that kept him out of the team's first two games. He only appeared in 14 of the Patriots' 64 offensive plays last week. It's anticipated that he'll see more time Sunday.

Bennett, a free agent signee, is the team's second leading receiver behind Julian Edelman averaging almost 14 yards per reception and a touchdown. New England signed the former Bear in the hopes of recapturing the two pass catching tight end combination that was so successful when it was Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

A new edgeJabaal Sheard faced the Bills twice last season as a member of the Patriots, but he's got a new complementary pass rusher in veteran Chris Long. Long, who signed a one-year deal in the spring, was brought on to fill the void left by the trade of Chandler Jones to Arizona.

Through the first three games Long and Sheard have combined for three sacks, four quarterback hits and four batted passes.

Collins dominantPatriots former second-round pick Jamie Collins is still a widely unknown linebacker outside of New England, but he might be the best all-around athlete on the Patriots roster. Currently leading the team in tackles, the outside linebacker has been dominant and productive.

Leading the team with 23 tackles, Collins is also their best coverage linebacker as evidenced by his two interceptions and three pass breakups in the team's first three games this season.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
"We're trying to finish the month at .500 and we're trying to gain some of that momentum. It's very tough to win in the NFL. We understand that so we're trying to ride that wave. Our fans are great in our home stadium, so we're just trying to pull some of that energy with us as we travel."
OLB Jerry Hughes

Stat of the weekLast season the Bills averaged 4.45 yards per carry in their two meetings with the Patriots.

Milestones in reachDan Carpenter needs 16 points for 400 as a Bill.

LeSean McCoy needs 86 rushing yards for 8,000 in his career.

Brandon Tate needs 175 kick return yards to reach 5,000 for his career.

Final noteIn his past seven starts against division opponents, Tyrod Taylor has 13 total touchdowns (11 pass, 2 rush) and a 102.1 passer rating.

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