1. PAST IS PROLOGUE
It wasn't that long ago, just nine weeks, and the Bills still have the taste of their beat down at the hands of the Patriots on their minds. New England put up 40-points; they racked up 507 yards, 466 through the air, and totally embarrassed the Bills in week two.
Head Coach Rex Ryan is confident the Bills are better now than they were in that game, especially on defense.
"Our defense is much better than it was that week," Ryan said this week, in an appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550. "It couldn't be worse. From a communication standpoint, everything else- oh my gosh- were we bad. They're really good, but we really helped them."
"Without question, we've improved defensively from that point," Ryan maintains.
- TAKING AIM AT PATRIOTS PERFECTION**
New England is one of two unbeaten teams left in the NFL. They're 9-0 along with the Carolina Panthers. And Monday's game marks the second time in history the Bills have faced an opponent with a 9-0 record or better.
The Patriots were the last ones, back in 2007. Buffalo lost to 9=0 New England 56-10 on Sunday Night Football that year. The Patriots went on to finish 16-0 that year before losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
3. BILLS OFFENSIVE WEAPONS ARE READY AND HEALTHY
The Bills face the Patriots with a full complement of offensive weapons this week. And so far this year, they're 4-1 when they've got Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy in the lineup. That includes the last two games (wins against the Dolphins and the Jets).
The lone with all three playmakers in the lineup happens to be the first matchup with New England.
4. NOW IT'S THE PATRIOTS MISSING TOP PLAYMAKERS
New England is now missing some of its' top weapons on offense thanks to injury. Wide Receiver Julian Edelman is out for six to eight weeks with a broken bone in his foot. Rex Ryan thinks wideout Danny Amendola will fill Edelman's role this week and in the weeks ahead.
Running Back Dion Lewis, a revelation this year with 49-carries and 36-catches, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Pro Football Focus recorded Lewis with 43-missed tackles on his 85-touches this year, the highest "Elusive Rating" the analytics website has ever generated. Lewis figures to be tougher to replace in the Patriots backfield than Edelman might be. And his absence may force New England to lean even heavier on their passing attack.
5. TWO OF THE LEAGUE'S TOP RATED QBS
No one will confuse first year starter Tyrod Taylor with Tom Brady-at least not yet. But Taylor's high completion percentage and his ability to avoid interceptions has him near the top of the list of NFL passers.
Brady is number one, with a QB Rating of 111.1. But Tyrod Taylor is not far behind. His QB rating is 106.2, third in the NFL.
Since throwing three interceptions in the week two loss against New England, Taylor has thrown just one more pick- a first quarter interception against the Giants. The Bills QB has not thrown an interception in his last 15-quarters of play.
Brady has thrown just three interceptions this year.
6. DEALING WITH PACE, AND THE PATRIOTS QUICK PASSING GAME
It's the biggest challenge the improving Buffalo defense will face—Brady and the Patriots up-tempo attack. They ran off plays on a bang-bang pace in Orchard Park, despite howling noise from the Bills fans. There's nothing to suggest they won't try to do the same Monday night at home, in an effort to keep Buffalo's complex defense off balance.
And once the ball was snapped, Brady got rid of it in a matter of 1.5-2-seconds on quick slant routes to his targets. Bills DBs say they key for them is to tighten up coverage at the line of scrimmage and force Brady to re-load while he stands in the pocket. It's a tall task.