The Bills got one in the win column last Sunday with their upset victory over Arizona. And now they take to the road for the next two weeks to try to start stacking some wins. They're up against their old nemesis, the New England Patriots, this Sunday. Here are the top seven storylines going into this week:
1. WHO'S UNDER CENTER FOR NEW ENGLAND?
It's likely to be a closely guarded secret all week—the name of the Patriots quarterback starter this week. New England had both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett on the field during the media portion of their Tuesday practice. Garoppolo is 10 days removed from his sprained AC joint in his shoulder. Brissett reportedly injured his thumb in New England's last game, September 22 against the Texans. But he finished the game and reportedly went through practice with his thumb taped on Tuesday.
There are also rumblings that New England may go with WR Julian Edelman at quarterback. He knows the New England offense better than the other two options, and he was a record-setting quarterback at Kent State.
In his senior year, Edelman threw 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also led the Golden Flashes in rushing that year, running for 1,370 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Rex Ryan said on his weekly radio show Monday that he already knows who the Patriots will start. Does he? Does anybody?
2. CAN THE BILLS GET MORE OUT OF THEIR PASSING GAME?
The Bills have averaged 32 points per game in their last two games, but they're looking for dramatic improvement in their passing game. Buffalo is dead last in passing yardage in the NFL so far, averaging 164 yards per game.
In an appearance on ESPN SportsCenter Tuesday, Quarterback Tyrod Taylor said he's ready to adapt to whatever it takes to come out of Sunday with a victory.
"I think I'm getting better each and every week," Taylor said. "Last week, we focused on the run a little more. That's not going to be the case every week. Some weeks it's going to be about running the ball. Some weeks it's about staying in the pocket and throwing it."
3. WHAT'S NEXT FROM OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR ANTHONY LYNN?
His first week on the job produced a Buffalo victory. And now the question is – what does new Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn do for an encore?
Lynn has earned praise since the Arizona game for the quicker pace to the Buffalo offense. It's not a no-huddle attack, but there was quicker communication into the offensive huddle that players and coaches said led to their production on the scoreboard.
"I thought the communication was really good," Rex Ryan said. "I thought it was organized, and it looked like we had a little more time out of the huddle to see what we were doing."
Lynn scaled back the offensive game plan for the Cardinals game. It will be interesting to see if he keeps it simple this week against New England.
4. THIRD DOWN PROBLEM – WILL IT CATCH UP TO THE BILLS?
Three games in, it's a disturbing trend—Buffalo has struggled on third downs on both sides of the ball.
On offense, the Bills are dead last converting 28 percent of the time on third downs. They're sixth-worst in the NFL in the number of three-and-out offensive possessions (27%).
Defensively, the Bills are 27th in the league in third down efficiency. Opponents have converted 44 percent of the time against the Bills defense.
5. BILLS DEFENSE MAKING BIG PLAYS
If you put the meltdown against the Jets aside (and the Bills no doubt wish they could) you can see the makings of a big-play Buffalo defense. Rex Ryan's return to an attacking style of defense has produced turnovers and sacks.
The Bills lead the AFC with seven takeaways so far this year (including four interceptions against Arizona). And they have 10 sacks in the first three games, putting them on a pace for 53 sacks at the end of the year. Last year, they finished with 21 sacks.
Whether they face Garoppolo, Brissett, or even Julian Edelman, the Bills will be up against a first-year starter at the quarterback position this week. They figure to try to pressure the New England passer no matter who's under center.
6. THE PATRIOTS HAVE RULED THE DIVISION – CAN THE BILLS CHALLENGE?
You don't need to remind Bills fans of New England's domination of the AFC East. They've won seven straight division titles and 13 of the last 15.
New England has already jumped out to a two-game lead over Buffalo and the rest of the division in the standings. It's up to the Bills to try to rein them in this week and keep them close with Tom Brady scheduled to return next week.
7. FOXBORO BLUES
It's not just the Bills who struggle in Foxboro. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Patriots have an NFL-best record of 97 wins and 15 losses. They've beaten the Bills 13 out of 14 meetings at Gillette.