Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 - Tremaine Edmunds vs. Rob Gronkowski
The Bills appear to finally have a proper answer to match up with the Patriots tight end. Edmunds at 6-5 with 4.5 speed can run with Gronk and has the same catch radius to prevent completions. He won’t be the only Bills defender to cover Gronkowski, but he will have a good deal of the matchups.
2 – Jerry Hughes vs. Trent Brown The Patriots left tackle was acquired in a trade with the 49ers on day two of the 2018 draft. A two-year starter before he came New England, Brown is tall, long and massive at 380. The athletic Hughes is great at dipping under taller tackles.
3 – Taron Johnson vs. Julian Edelman The rookie faces his most difficult test to date. Edelman is a catch machine because he’s so slippery and gets instant separation. Johnson, who has been one of Buffalo’s best rookies on the field, will need to bring his best on Monday night.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass defense This might look strange on the surface knowing the firepower the Patriots passing game possesses, but they neutralized the Minnesota passing attack in Week 3 and held the Green Bay passing attack in check in Week 4. Buffalo brings the fourth-ranked pass defense to the table in this one.
Best advantage – Pass rush Again Buffalo’s strength meets a Patriots strength. The Bills have been able to get to the passer with great regularity through the first seven games, logging 19 sacks thus far. Tom Brady gets the ball out quick, which is why New England has surrendered just nine sacks this season, but just getting hits on Brady can have a cumulative effect.
Photos of the Buffalo Bills as the team prepares for their Week 8 Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots.
Bills Number 1 Must
Run game dominance In much the same way that the Colts were able to run on the Bills last week, Buffalo must turn those tables on New England. The Patriots are ranked 21st against the run. Provided LeSean McCoy can be cleared from the concussion protocol, he and Chris Ivory need to have success if the Bills are to have a chance.
Putting up points The Patriots offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders the first three weeks of the season, but they’ve hit their stride over the past month. In the last four games, New England has put up 17 touchdowns to average almost 40 points per game (39.3). Belichick’s team has scored at least 38 points in each of the past four weeks. Their offense is averaging better than 440 yards per game (442) and Tom Brady is averaging better than 300 passing yards per game over that span (303.8).
Special teams producing New England hasn’t had a dynamic return man since Brandon Tate left the team, but that’s changed with Cordarrelle Patterson returning kicks. Though Patterson did lose a kick return on a fumble last week at Chicago, he redeemed himself with a 95-yard return for a touchdown. He’s averaging better than 33 yards per return (33.3) and now stands third all-time in kick return touchdowns in league history with six. The Patriots rank third in the league in kick return average.
Last week the Patriots special teams unit recorded a pair of touchdowns. In addition to Patterson’s return, New England blocked a punt and returned it for a score when Kyle Van Noy blocked a Bears kick and took it in for six.
Gordon’s role growing Josh Gordon, acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last month, has steadily seen his role in New England’s passing game increase. In the past four games, Gordon’s playing time increased from 22 percent of the snaps versus Miami to 26 percent against Indianapolis, to 81 percent versus Kansas City and then 95 percent last week at Chicago.
Gordon has rewarded the offense with his expanded playing time. After pulling in a pair of passes for 50 yards and a touchdown against Miami three weeks ago, Gordon made five receptions for 42 yards versus Kansas City and then four catches for 100 yards at Chicago, for his first 100-yard receiving day in a Patriots uniform.
White dominating Running back James White has always been a receiving threat out of the backfield, but this season he’s taken it to a new level. White has almost twice as many receptions (45) as they next most popular receiving target on the Patriots (26). He also leads the team in receiving touchdowns with six thus far this season.
His 569 total yards from scrimmage also leads the team as he’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry out of the backfield. White’s seven total touchdowns this season matches Buffalo’s total for the season.
Making you pay Teams know staying mistake free is what gives you the best chance to beat the Patriots, but few teams have found that easy to accomplish. And when you do make a mistake New England has a long track record of making their opponents pay for it. This season is no different.
The Patriots currently rank second in the league in points scored off turnovers with a total of 59 this season. Only Chicago has more (63).
Quote of the week “Is that new? Last year, this year, I don’t think it’s new. For all intents and purposes, they were in the Super Bowl last year. They’ve won the division ‘X’ amount of years. I’ve been in this position before. Until you beat them they’re going to be favored. That’s how it works. So we’ve got to earn every part of it.”
--Head coach Sean McDermott on being 14-point underdogs to Patriots
Stat of the week LeSean McCoy has compiled more than 100 total yards from scrimmage in each of his last five meetings with the Patriots.**
Milestones in reach
Kelvin Benjamin needs two receptions for 200 in his career.
Stephen Hauschka is three points away from 1,000 in his career.
Kyle Williams needs three sacks for 50 in his career.
Final note Bill Belichick is 9-1 at home on Monday Night Football as head coach of the Patriots. On the road he is 8-7.