The Pats travel to Buffalo this week to take on their rival, the Buffalo Bills (2-5) on Monday Night Football, with hopes of improving to 6-2 on the season. The rivalry has been rather lopsided in favor of the Pats over the last two decades… Will Monday Night be more of the same?
Here are a few things to consider entering this Week 8 matchup.
1. Will the offense continue to shine?
The Patriots offense has been otherworldly over the last 4 weeks, as they have averaged nearly 40 points per game, while moving the ball down the field with ease. They face a perplexing opponent in the Buffalo defense, which has had its moments throughout the season. For example, they were able to shut down the potent Vikings offense, along with the brash Titans running game, while being dissected by teams like the Colts and Chargers. The Pats will be without standout rookie RB Sony Michel who suffered a knee injury during last week’s win at Chicago, and may or may not have Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, due to ankle and knee injuries.
If Gronk sits this week, expect the Pats to rely on what worked last week in Chicago, which was using James White and Julian Edelman across the middle, while stretching the field with Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan. They probably won’t be in a shootout this week due to injuries in Buffalo’s offense, but expect the Pats to put up a lot of points.
2. Will the defense finally have a consistent outing?
The Pats defense’s struggles over the last few weeks has been well-documented, as they have not been consistent in stopping either the run or the pass. They have been able to create turnovers (6 interceptions in the last 3 games), but at the same time, it’s hard to deny that they are extremely porous in the secondary, which makes them heavily susceptible to big plays down the field. They also suffer from an inability to stop the run consistently, as evidenced by Mitch Trubisky’s 81 rushing yards last week.
Luckily enough for the Pats, they’re facing a Bills team that is without their top quarterback and running back (Josh Allen and LeSean McCoy, respectively), which may make it easier for them to earn a victory. The usually inept Colts defense was able to hold the Bills to 5 points last week with Derek Anderson at QB, which is an encouraging sign for the Pats defense.
- Sony Michel (knee) – Out
- Eric Rowe (groin) – Doubtful
- Brian Schwenke (foot) – Doubtful
- Trent Brown (ankle) – Questionable
- Marcus Cannon (concussion) – Questionable
- Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
- Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
- Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back) – Questionable
- Dont’a Hightower (knee) – Questionable
- Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Questionable
- John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable
- Deatrich Wise (ankle/knee) – Questionable
- Josh Allen (elbow) – Out
- Taiwan Jones (neck) – Doubtful
- Trent Murphy (knee) – Doubtful
- LeSean McCoy (concussion) – Doubtful
- Derek Anderson (back/calf) – Questionable
- Chris Ivory (hamstring) – Questionable
Prediction: Patriots 28, Bills 10
Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 8 contests.
Last week: 12-2
Dolphins at Texans: Texans
Eagles at Jaguars: Eagles
Broncos at Chiefs: Chiefs
Browns at Steelers: Steelers
Redskins at Giants: Redskins
Seahawks at Lions: Lions
Buccaneers at Bengals: Bengals
Jets at Bears: Bears
Ravens at Panthers: Panthers
Colts at Raiders: Colts
49ers at Cardinals: Cardinals
Packers at Rams: Rams
Saints at Vikings: Vikings