Since 2000, the Buffalo Bills have played the New England Patriots 17 times at Ralph Wilson/New Era Field. They have only beat the Patriots twice in those seventeen meetings. In both of the two victories the Bills forced four turnovers from the Patriots, a team that averages just 1.21 turnovers per game during that 17-year stretch. In those two wins, the Bills made the Patriots do something they have rarely done. Sunday at New Era Field will be no different.
The Patriots offense has been the second-best unit in the league by DVOA through Week 12 of the 2017 season. The best unit? The New Orleans Saints, who put up 482 yards and 47 points against the Bills at New Era Field in Week 10. The Bills will have to do a slightly better job against the Patriots if they want to win.
The Patriot’s losses this season have correlated directly with the yards their offense has put up and their defense has allowed. In those losses, they had their worst offense games of the season—371 yards against the Chiefs and 373 yards against the Panthers. And their two worst defensive games—537 yards gained by the Chiefs and 444 by the Panthers. So to beat the Pats in 2017 you have to put up at least 444 yards and only allow 373 yards. Can the Bills do that?
Let’s start with offense. The Bills have put up 444 yards in exactly zero times this season. The closest they came was in the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (434). After that their only 400-yard offensive game was in Week one against the New York Jets (408). Good news, both of those were at New Era Field, and so is Sunday’s game. So the team is capable, but it would be one of their best performances of the season.
Now what about defense? Allowing no more than 373 yards is not an extremely tall task. In 2017 defenses have held their opponents under 373 yards in 67% of games. The Bills have done it in six out of their 11 games. So once again, they can do it and this one is less rare, but it isn’t their strength.
All of this is to say what we all pretty much already knew; it is going to take the Bills best all-around performance of the season to take down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.