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Crumbling their cookies: How the Buffalo Bills should attack the New England Patriots

The need for speed

Every week, I write an opinion column on a few general game-planning tactics I like for the Buffalo Bills to use against their upcoming opponent—ones I think have a chance to be successful based on personnel usage and scheme along with the strengths and weaknesses of each team. These may take many forms, though I typically try to come up with at least one tactic on offense and one on defense.

The time to dethrone the New England Patriots is now. With the team reeling after three straight losses dropped them to 2-4 on the season, the Bills have the opportunity to end their 20-year grip on the AFC East once and for all. How can Buffalo usurp the crown from their Bostonian rivals? I have some thoughts...

I feel the need...the need for speed

This is a game where I wish Devin Singletary and Zach Moss were faster. The Patriots have looked slow on defense running sideline to sideline and although the unit as a whole is still formidable, the use of motion and speed by the San Francisco 49ers last week reinforced a weakness on the Pats’ defense that may be difficult for the Bills to exploit.

The use of Isaiah McKenzie in the jet motion role should never be higher than it is this week. A career high in touches may be in order for him, and the use of wide receivers in the running game in general can allow the Buffalo Bills to stretch the Patriots’ defense horizontally against the run, and with the weather possible being poor for the game, one false step can allow a speedy ball carrier to corner and rip off a big play.

Prepare for a downhill running game

The Patriots might not throw the ball 25 times on Sunday. The combination of the weather, poor play recently from Cam Newton, and injuries to weapons might force New England to steer into the identity many thought they would have this year anyway: power running. Waves upon waves of Cam Newton, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and Damien Harris should be expected and there’s a chance the Bills could be down both Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson at defensive tackle. Tremaine Edmunds needs his best game of 2020 in the run game, because the Patriots will throw the book at him from a processing standpoint. Taron Johnson might provide more value this game than he has previously because of his quick trigger in the run game.

The Bills were able to effectively neutralize both Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry in consecutive weeks. Let’s hope they can do the same to the New England rushing game.


...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” podcast every Thursday and Friday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!