The New England Patriots go on the road in week 13 to take on the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have lost three of their last four, but only have one loss at home this season. The Patriots have yet to lose on the road this season and are looking to extend their active winning streak to eight. This will be the first meeting of the divisional rivals in the 2017 season. Here are the week 13 New England Patriots Keys to Victory.
LeSean McCoy is the best football player on the Bills roster. This season, he has proved to be the Bills’ most prolific weapon on offense. He ranks in the top ten in the league for total rushing yards this season at 748. Not only is he one of the most prolific rushers in the NFL, he has caught the ball 46 times for almost 300 yards this season. That’s number two in receiving yards and tops in receptions for the Bills.
Kelvin Benjamin was expected to wind up being the top receiver after being traded to Buffalo by the Carolina Panthers. Benjamin’s health has been a major issue since the move, and there haven’t been many stand-out options in terms of receivers. With Benjamin unlikely to play, Tyrod Taylor will rely on his most popular options: Zay Jones and McCoy. Keeping eyes on McCoy will be vital to keeping the Bills offense off the field.
Beware the Buffalo Secondary
TreDavious White has a legitimate shot at claiming Defensive Rookie of the Year. In Sports Illustrated’s midseason poll, the rookie cornerback ranked second behind Marshon Lattimore. White has played lights out this season with 14 passes defended. That puts him at number three in the league. His 63-yard interception return is the third-longest in the league.
Micah Hyde is also a major threat in the secondary. The fifth-year safety out of Iowa has five interceptions this season. His nine passes defended also ranks in the top 25 in the league. Tom Brady has been incredibly careful with the ball this season, only throwing three interceptions on 408 attempts. But the Patriots only have three true pass-catchers taller than Hyde and White, and they’re all tight ends.
Establish Offensive Line Chemistry Early
The offensive line has been the football version of a pick and mix this season. Decimated by injury, the Patriots have had to piece together an offensive line from back-ups and all-purpose linemen. Ted Karras hasn’t done a terrible job at center in David Andrews’ absence, but his early snap last week cost the Patriots a fumble recovered by Miami for a touchdown.
Marcus Cannon did not participate in walk-through on Thursday, which means he very likely will miss Sunday’s game in Buffalo. LaAdrian Waddle, who had replaced Cannon in the starting lineup, was limited in Thursday’s practice and is also unlikely to play Sunday. Waddle was injured in last week’s game against Miami. That means that the Patriots will be putting third-string Cameron Fleming in at right tackle to face the Bills defense.
The Bills defense has registered only 17 sacks this season, ranked 31st in the league. But Lorenzo Alexander and Shaq Lawson are household names in the football world for a reason. Even though Brady has been optimistic about his Achilles injury, mobility is always an issue for the 40-year-old quarterback. The Patriots offensive line will need to establish its chemistry in practice this week before heading to Buffalo if they hope to keep Brady upright for the next few weeks.
The Patriots and the Bills kick off at 1:00 PM Eastern on Sunday.
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