SHOWDOWN ON MNF: Pats vs. Bills pregame thread

DJnVa

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The other thread had some reports that Bills were 7 point favorites, but I'm seeing Bills -3 now. In fact, I see one site that opened at -3.5 and it's -3 now so maybe some early money on Patriots.

This is going to be a fun one.
 

Red Averages

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Reposting from the other thread:

Pats are +3 @ Buf. O/U is 44.

Going to be a great week of hype leading into the Monday game. Really feels like a house money game. They aren’t expected to win, but if they do they’d take a commanding AFC East lead into their bye week, and potentially the #1 seed depending on what the Ravens do vs CLE tonight and @ Pit next week.

I’m really curious to see on offense if the Pats try to make this a control the clock, heavy run + play action game to slow the Bills offense. It wouldn’t shock me if they tried to play 6 OL with a fullback, similar to the Colts game with Jonas Gray.

On defense I feel like the key is keeping Josh Allen contained, letting the bills try to run the ball. Easier said than done. He’s shown he’ll still make some questionable throws when he gets frustrated this year and their running game has been nonexistent.
 

tims4wins

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Weather in Orchard Park next Monday night is expected be 27 degrees with winds of 10-15 mph.

Bills will be without their best defensive player in all-pro Tre-Davious White who tore his ACL against the Saints.
Honestly that’s about as good weather as they could reasonably hope for
 

E5 Yaz

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The first time for the Patriots on the Manningcast. Given how distracting the split screen can be, I'm thinking of biting the bullet and watching Levy & Co
 

Willie Clay's Big Play

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Pats on the Manning cast could be pretty interesting. Post football Peyton is pretty interesting as he’s thinking aloud about the game he’s watching. I’d be up to deal with the split screen to hear him talk through a BB defense in a big game or at least give it a shot. Guest list makes it tricky though.
 

TomBrunansky23

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If it matters to you guys, folks here in WNY are nervous about this game. Very nervous.

Losing Tre is a massive blow to the Bills D. He covered a lot of warts up for a somewhat shaky CB group.

Offensively, our OL is in shambles unless Spencer Brown comes back off the Covid list. That seems likely. Great job by him not getting vaxxed and missing the last two games. It's also possible John Feliciano is back off IR. Bills have been about as deep as a puddle on OL without them. Cody Ford has been an absolute turnstile, and Dion Dawkins hasn't been right all year since a nasty pre-season bout with Covid.

If the Bills beat the Pats it will be because Josh, Diggs, Beasley, and Knox beat the Pats.
 

wilked

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I love how the schedule breaks down over the next 3 weeks. It’s put up or shut up time.
4 weeks, but your point is a good one. What is interesting as well, at least for me, is the game being ordered from hardest to easiest. @Buf, @Ind, then home vs Buf. If they can start that stretch with a win, going into Bye week….obviously huge
 

Gash Prex

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I assume on the road against a top tier defense they will try to keep under control with the run and a conservative game plan. I doubt this is going to be the "Let Mac cook" plan unless BB and McDaniels have seen something on film or they are forced based on the score. Bills are tough against the run and pass (#1 EPA rated on both per PFF)
 

jsinger121

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I assume on the road against a top tier defense they will try to keep under control with the run and a conservative game plan. I doubt this is going to be the "Let Mac cook" plan unless BB and McDaniels have seen something on film or they are forced based on the score. Bills are tough against the run and pass (#1 EPA rated on both per PFF)
That pass defense will not look as good without White on the field for the Bills.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I assume on the road against a top tier defense they will try to keep under control with the run and a conservative game plan. I doubt this is going to be the "Let Mac cook" plan unless BB and McDaniels have seen something on film or they are forced based on the score. Bills are tough against the run and pass (#1 EPA rated on both per PFF)
Also the biggest NFL game Mac has ever played and likely to be cold and windy. I agree that we see a conservative offensive gameplan at least in the first half. I could also see them going deep into the bag for a couple trick plays.
 

RedOctober3829

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I'm interested to see if Buffalo continues to do what they did against the Saints. They rushed the ball 32 times which was much more than in previous weeks. They ran Josh Allen more as well as he had 8 rushed for 43 yards. Now, they still only ran the ball overall at a 3.5 ypc clip and that was against a depleted Saints defensive front. They sat Zach Moss against the Saints and went with Matt Breida(9 for 26) and Devin Singletary(15 for 44). I would think they will mix coverages as much as possible to try to confuse Josh Allen. Stefon Diggs should be doubled at all times. Is this a game where you double Diggs with Mills and a safety and give Emmanuel Sanders to JCJ 1-on-1 just like they did with Tyreek Hill and give Gilmore the #2 guy? Dawson Knox is an issue as well. I'd like to see Dugger get him and be very physical. This is also a big week for Myles Bryant. Cole Beasley is one of the best slot guys in the league and Bryant will have his hands full. I'm hoping they are more aggressive and physical with their receivers than they were with Tennessee. In the first half, it was too easy for Tannehill to dink and dunk down the field.

DVOA wise, the Bills are 5th overall(1st in defense, 18th in offense, and 18th in special teams). In weighted DVOA they are 6th. The Patriots are currently 3rd in total DVOA(2nd in defense, 16th in offense, 6th in ST). In weighted DVOA, they are 2nd.

Currently, the Bills secondary is Taron Johnson and Levi Wallace at corner and Jordan Poyer/Micah Hyde at safety. However, they will still present a huge challenge for the Patriots. They have been at the top of the NFL all year in hurries forced per dropback and also generating pressure at almost a 30% clip while only blitzing around 20% of snaps. I would expect to see more blitzes this week as Mac has shown a weakness in picking up secondary blitzies the last couple of weeks. They are also one of the top 5 rush defense in the league as well.

This will be the biggest challenge the Pats have faced all season as the TB/Dallas games at least were at home. I'm looking forward to seeing how they handle a hostile environment in a prime-time game.
 

ragnarok725

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1-0 on the 4 game crux stretch. Not hard to imagine 3-1.
Indy got a little more worrisome with how game they looked against TB, and how bad the Pats run D looked against the Titans. Taylor could be a problem.

But in general yes, I think 3-1 seems reasonable and 4-0 seems possible but not something we dare hope for.
 

88 MVP

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I would guess that line might inch closer toward the Pats. It suddenly feels like the Pats are getting a lot of national hype and have passed the Bills in a number of statistical rankings and pundit power rankings.

For whatever it’s worth, 538’s ELO model currently ranks the Pats higher and has the Bills as a -1.5 favorite at home this week, and +3 underdogs in New England week 16.
 

Al Zarilla

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I'll never have anything bad to say about Vinovich (like Joe West, now retired MLB umpire). Not that Vinovich or his crew made any particular calls that favored the Pats in SB 49. As I recall, the officiating was good that day.
 

tims4wins

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I'll never have anything bad to say about Vinovich (like Joe West, now retired MLB umpire). Not that Vinovich or his crew made any particular calls that favored the Pats in SB 49. As I recall, the officiating was good that day.
He was also the ref for the divisional win vs. the Ravens that year
 

pokey_reese

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DVOA update after the most recent games has this as a matchup of the #2 Pats against the #3 Bills, though using the variants that weight recent games more heavily, the Pats have a larger lead (as a function of giving less weight to their poor early showings). In fact, by Weighted DVOA and DAVE, Pats are ranked #1 as of today, whereas the Bills are #3 in all of them, which is interesting on its own. In any case, this is shaping up to be one of the games of the year so far, in terms of quality of both teams, playoff implications, and division rivalry story line. Pats win this game on the road, and they deserve to be in the conversation for best team in the NFL. Kind of hard to believe that I just typed that sentence.

On offense, Pats have the advantage by DVOA both passing and rushing (but note, the Bills rushing DVOA is somewhat deflated compared to what you might expect because QB scrambles count as passing value), but both teams are roughly middle of the pack in the NFL (11th and 16th, respectively). As many have noted elsewhere, the Pats offense has demonstrated a fairly high week-to-week variance, and this is born out by their position as #28 out of 32 teams in that category (low rank = high variance), but of note is that #32 happens to be the Bills themselves. Both of these teams have been somewhat feast-or-famine when they have the ball, but win consistently because great defenses pick up the slack when the offense can't get it done.

As we all know by now, these are the top two defenses in the league by a wide margin, with the Bills having a slight advantage on both offense and defense to this point. There is a question of how the Bills will adjust to the loss of their top CB in White, but they have a lot of time to prepare and it's not like the Saints started marching once he left the game (although, it's the Saints, so we couldn't learn much from that). Oddly enough, these two teams also are among the highest variance on defense, in part because there are some really bad teams in the NFL this year that they have both played, so it seems like this one is really going to come down to game plan and execution, with pretty even skill levels. Bills also get back Star Lotulelei for this game after a bout with Covid, so he will be one to watch on the interior of a line that was already a great run-stuffing unit.

Pats should have an edge on special teams, with a reliable kicker and great coverage, and a notably better punter and punt returner, so if there is anywhere the stats offer an edge to NE, it might be on special teams, especially in a low-scoring game where a few yards of field position and the ability to hit FGs matters a lot.

By the numbers, this is a very close game, and I would be curious to read/see the matchup breakdown from someone doing more of a film/strategy analysis. Given the cold weather, rookie QB, and hostile road environment, I think the Bills betting line advantage makes sense, and the Bills probably should be favored in this game even on a neutral field, but not by very much. Both teams have whupped some tomato cans this year, and lost a few head-scratchers, so they will get to learn a lot about themselves this week. This is going to be a good one (I hope).
 

MainerInExile

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Good defense against the run, good pass rush. Not deep in the secondary because of injuries, though. So it seems like a 5-wide, short-passing type of game from the Pats. Dink and dunk and win while hearing everyone complain that Mac is a peashooter sounds pretty good to me.
 

Old Fart Tree

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I'll never have anything bad to say about Vinovich (like Joe West, now retired MLB umpire). Not that Vinovich or his crew made any particular calls that favored the Pats in SB 49. As I recall, the officiating was good that day.
They missed a pretty big PI on Butler (I believe) that I'd be salty about if I was a Seahawks fan. Otherwise I agree.
 

snowmanny

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If the God of football descended upon you and offered a guaranteed split of the two Bills-Pats games would you take it?
 

88 MVP

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No -- it feels like a split should be the expected outcome, and a split probably gives Buffalo the edge in the AFCE race because of the Miami loss.

If the Bills swept, the Pats would still have a path to 10-11 wins and a likely playoff berth. But the surest path to winning the AFCE is to sweep the Bills.
 

Red Averages

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If the God of football descended upon you and offered a guaranteed split of the two Bills-Pats games would you take it?
I think we need to think about this like a poker tournament when we're near the bubble. It is a huge advantage to acquire chips and get near the top of the leaderboard, so you should be willing to take on some volatility to improve your long term prospects. It seem like the Pats odds, in particular, would be a lot higher if they can get the #1 seed vs being below the Bills and finishing with the #5 seed. As of now that would mean @ KC, @ Bal or @ Buf for the first two games. Whereas if they can get the #1 seed they might have a bye and then Buf come to them....

So yes, you absolutely play it out so you can try to get the #1 seed.
 

Captaincoop

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If the God of football descended upon you and offered a guaranteed split of the two Bills-Pats games would you take it?
Not a chance. I'll be very disappointed if we don't win one of the two games. I'd be very comfortable letting it play out and going for two. I bet a Bills fan would take the split in a heartbeat, though.
 

BaseballJones

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How depressing would it be for a Bills fan, if after last year's glorious run to the AFCE title and into the playoffs, with the Pats looking down and out, the Pats swept them and regained the division crown, with a young stud at QB?

I mean....they'd have to be like, oh come on already.
 

DGreenwood

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If the God of football descended upon you and offered a guaranteed split of the two Bills-Pats games would you take it?
No. It'll be tough to win the division without sweeping the Bills so I wouldn't want to give up on that opportunity. If the Patriots are as good as we think they are they should at least earn the split without any help from the God of football.

If the God of football offered a sweep of Buffalo in exchange for a guaranteed loss vs Indy I'd take that (does the God of football consider counteroffers?).
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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How depressing would it be for a Bills fan, if after last year's glorious run to the AFCE title and into the playoffs, with the Pats looking down and out, the Pats swept them and regained the division crown, with a young stud at QB?

I mean....they'd have to be like, oh come on already.
The Bills are a division rival, but this really goes for like half the football fans in the country.

We're not there yet so I hesitate to get ahead of ourselves. But, if it happens, the Patriots jumping right back into the mix as serious Super Bowl contenders - with this just the start of a multi-year run over the course of Mac's rookie deal - is going to be a complete nightmare for tens of millions of football fans in New York, Florida, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and beyond. Lot of haters out there.
 

Euclis20

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No. It'll be tough to win the division without sweeping the Bills so I wouldn't want to give up on that opportunity. If the Patriots are as good as we think they are they should at least earn the split without any help from the God of football.

If the God of football offered a sweep of Buffalo in exchange for a guaranteed loss vs Indy I'd take that (does the God of football consider counteroffers?).
Hell, given that a sweep of Buffalo basically guarantees the division (the Pats would need to go 0-3 vs Indy/Jax/Mia and the Bills would need to 4-0 vs Tampa/Carolina/Atlanta/NYJ in order for Buffalo to win the division) I'd take that in a heartbeat.
 

Nator

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I think another thing to consider is that this will be the 1st time that Mac will be facing a hostile road crowd*.


*By hostile road crowd, I mean 80,000 absolutely frenzied, started drinking at 2pm, wild-ass fans whose team finally clawed itself back to the top of the division after 20 seasons of futility while concurrently being the Patriots chew toy desperately hoping that doesn't revert back after one fleeting season hostile road crowd.
 

JCizzle

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I think another thing to consider is that this will be the 1st time that Mac will be facing a hostile road crowd*.


*By hostile road crowd, I mean 80,000 absolutely frenzied, started drinking at 2pm, wild-ass fans whose team finally clawed itself back to the top of the division after 20 seasons of futility while concurrently being the Patriots chew toy desperately hoping that doesn't revert back after one fleeting season hostile road crowd.
That's probably tame by SEC standards. Especially for an Alabama player who that all also applies to!
 

tims4wins

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I think another thing to consider is that this will be the 1st time that Mac will be facing a hostile road crowd*.


*By hostile road crowd, I mean 80,000 absolutely frenzied, started drinking at 2pm, wild-ass fans whose team finally clawed itself back to the top of the division after 20 season of futility while concurrently being the Patriots chew toy desperately hoping that doesn't revert back after one fleeting season hostile road crowd.
Yeah this is fair. While the Pats are 5-0 on the road, none of the enviroments have been remotely hostile:
@ Jets: shitty team, decent amount of Pats fans
@ Houston: shitty team, half empty
@ Chargers: decent team, lots of Pats fans
@ Carolina: meh team, half empty
@ Atlanta: shitty team, half empty

They haven't faced anything close to resembling the environment they'll face on Monday night