The past few weeks have not been kind to the Patriots, as they have dropped two straight games due to a miracle play in Miami and an offensive clunker against Pittsburgh. These losses have brought them down to #3 in the AFC playoff standings, and a strong finish to end the season will help them fight for a first-round bye. The Pats face the Buffalo Bills (5-9) tomorrow in what promises to be a tough defensive battle.
Here are some things to consider entering tomorrow’s game.
1. Will the offense rebound?
Tom Brady and the offense did not have a great outing last week against Pittsburgh, as they barely produced any big plays (other than an early 63-yard touchdown to Chris Hogan), and struggled to move the ball for most of the games. One of the most troubling aspects of the game was Tom Brady’s decision-making, as he cost the Pats a good chance at winning by throwing an unacceptable red-zone interception, and by constantly sailing balls on the ultimately doomed final drive.
This week’s matchup against Buffalo will not be any easier, as the Bills feature a very physical defense. The last time these two teams met, the Bills held the Pats in check, as they didn’t cross 10 points until the 4th quarter. The passing game will definitely be impacted by Josh Gordon’s suspension, which will require players like Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett to step up and help Brady out. James White also needs to get more touches if the Pats want the offense to thrive.
The offense needs a pick-me-up game to ensure that they have momentum entering the playoffs, and let’s hope that tomorrow is just what they need.
2. Can the defense stop the run?
The last time the Pats faced the Bills, they didn’t really have to worry about the passing game, as Buffalo’s QB at the time was the then recently-signed Derek Anderson, who did not have a great performance at all. Tomorrow will be different, as the Bills will have their starter back, as Josh Allen will be bringing his dynamic talents to Gillette Stadium. Allen is still a raw passer, but he has been unstoppable on the ground, which will definitely pose a challenge to a Pats defense that has struggled to stop the run in consecutive weeks.
If the Pats can bottle up Allen and LeSean McCoy, they will have a good chance of defeating the Bills.
Brandon King (knee) – Questionable
Ryan Lewis (concussion) – Out
Chris Ivory (shoulder) – Questionable
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 16 contests (excluding Saturday’s games)