It’s not too often that the Patriots are tied with another team in the AFC East after three weeks of action, which is why tomorrow’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills (3-0) is extremely intriguing, as the victorious team will take first place in the division. The Pats haven’t lost in Buffalo since the 2011 season, which ironically also occurred in Week 4, with both teams being undefeated at the time.
Here are some things to consider entering this Week 4 contest.
1. What will the offense look like?
The Patriots’ offense has changed dramatically over the last few weeks, due to the addition and subsequent release of Antonio Brown, and the injuries sustained by offensive linemen Marcus Cannon & Isaiah Wynn, and fullback James Develin. In addition, Week 3’s game against the Jets tested the limits and versatility of the Pats’ receiving corps, with Julian Edelman getting knocked out of the game with a chest injury. Luckily for the Pats, Edelman was able to make the trip to Buffalo, and is expected to play. As this is only Week 4, having Edelman sit out wouldn’t be the worst idea, as another injury could jeopardize the team’s chances of contending down the line. If Edelman does play, I’d still expect the Pats to be cautious with his number of snaps, which would likely expand the importance of Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett in the offense.
Another important focus for the Pats should be ensuring the success of Sony Michel and the ground game. Michel hasn’t had the greatest start to the season, and the absence of Develin wasn’t exactly helpful for him against the Jets. If the Pats are able to sustain their running game, they can take pressure off of Tom Brady, and keep the Bills off balance with a well-balanced offensive attack.
The Bills’ defense has been stingy thus far, which means the Patriots will need to have a great offensive performance to emerge victorious tomorrow.
2. Can the defense contain Josh Allen?
Josh Allen is one of the most perplexing quarterbacks in the NFL, as he has flashed brilliance with his ability to throw and run, while also displaying a great deal of recklessness with the football. Looking at Allen’s highlights so far, it’s fair to say that one of his greatest assets is his ability to run the ball, as it forces opposing defenses to keep an eye on him at all times. I believe that the Patriots’ key to victory will be bottling up the Bills’ running game, and putting the ball in Josh Allen’s hands. Allen has struggled with accuracy down the field, which plays right into the Pats’ hands, due to their excellent secondary. In addition, forcing Allen to throw a lot would enable Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo to dial up the pass rush on the young quarterback. If Allen becomes rattled, he may throw some ill-advised throws, which could lead to takeaways for the defense.
Getting after Josh Allen would go a long way in ensuring another successful outing for the Patriots’ defense.
- Michael Bennett (shoulder) – Questionable
- Rex Burkhead (foot) – Questionable
- Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
- Julian Edelman (chest) – Questionable
- Marshall Newhouse (illness) – Questionable
- Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) – Questionable
- Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable
- Tyler Kraft (ankle) – Out
- Corey Thompson (ankle) – Out
- Maurice Alexander (knee) – Questionable
- Jon Feliciano (neck) – Questionable
- Robert Foster (groin) – Questionable
- Taron Johnson (hamstring) – Questionable
- Spencer Long (ankle) – Questionable
- Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) – Questionable
- Devin Singletary (hamstring) – Questionable
Prediction: Patriots 24, Bills 13
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 4 games (excluding Thursday Night Football).
Last week: 10-5
Redskins at Giants: Giants
Chiefs at Lions: Chiefs
Titans at Falcons: Falcons
Browns at Ravens: Ravens
Raiders at Colts: Colts
Panthers at Texans: Texans
Chargers at Dolphins: Chargers
Buccaneers at Rams: Rams
Seahawks at Cardinals: Seahawks
Vikings at Bears: Bears
Jaguars at Broncos: Jaguars
Cowboys at Saints: Cowboys
Bengals at Steelers: Steelers