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Both Buffalo and New England will have their biggest game of the year when they go head-to-head this Saturday night. This game could potentially give the Bills a chance to win the AFC East if they win in weeks 16 & 17, along with the Patriots losing out. If the Bills somehow pull this off, they win, this will be their first AFC East championship in almost 25 years.
For the Patriots, a win against the Bills would get them one step closer to clinching a first-round bye. Presently, this Patriots offense is dealing with inconsistency and miscommunication issues between Tom Brady and his receivers. Unfortunately for the Pats, these issues will likely worsen against a balanced Bills defense that is tough against the run and pass.
Date: Saturday, December 21st, 2019
Time: 4:30 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Massachusetts
Coverage: NFL Network
Buffalo Bills: T. Nsekhe (ankle) Q, C. Liuget (knee) Q, T. Johnson (undisclosed) Q, J. Feliciano (undisclosed) Q, M. Alexander (knee) IR, H. Phillips (knee/ACL) IR, J. Croom (hamstring) IR, V. Joseph (shoulder) IR, M. Love (pectoral) IR, L. Waddle (quadriceps) IR, A. Green (undisclosed)
New England Patriots: B. Cowart (concussion) Q, J. McCourty (groin) Q, J. Edelman (knee) Q, J. Jones (groin) Q, S. Mason (ankle) Q, G. Olszewski (ankle) IR, J. Johnson (shoulder) IR, S. Gostkowski (hip) IR, J. Develin (neck) IR, M. Gant (undisclosed) IR, H. Froholdt (undisclosed) IR, D. Rivers (undisclosed) IR, D. Andrews (illness) IR, K. Davis (undisclosed) IR, B. King (quadriceps) IR, D. Ross (undisclosed) IR
Buffalo Bills Analysis
When it comes to the Bills, quarterback Josh Allen has been one of the most polarizing players in the NFL. This season, Allen has opted to be more conservative, by throwing short passes more frequently relative to last season, leading to an improvement across his box-score statistics. Even though Josh Allen has heavily improved from his rookie season as a passer, his mobility continues to be his biggest strength. At this moment, Allen is currently third amongst all NFL QBs in terms of rushing yardage with 467 yards. Conversely, Allen ranks 20th in the NFL for passing yards, further illustrating his conservative tendency.
If the Bills have any chance of gaining offensive momentum, they need to be productive in the ground game. This season, the Bills excel at running the ball, as they currently rush for approximately 135 yards per game (fifth-most). Rookie running back Devin Singletary has played well this season, ranking third in the NFL for rushing yards per carry. However, the biggest issue for Bills rushers has been ball security. Josh Allen currently leads the league in terms of rushing fumbles, and Devin Singletary has the third-most fumbles among all running backs.
The biggest bright spot for the Buffalo Bills has been their defense, particularly on the back end. This year, the Bills have stifled opponents to the third-least yards per game in the NFL. Their secondary has been excellent at intercepting quarterbacks, especially Tre’Davious White, who is tied for the most interceptions in the league. If the Bills secondary can continue their dominance into Saturday, they will assert themselves as one of the elite defenses in the league.
Buffalo Bills Depth Chart
New England Patriots Analysis
New England’s passing woes could not have come at a worse time. Despite ranking in the top ten for passing yards/game, the advanced stats indicate that Tom Brady has been an average QB who ranks 16th and 18th for DVOA and QBR respectively. Additionally, Brady currently ranks in the bottom-five for yards/throw and has only thrown for 250+ yards in one of his last five outings. Moreover, Brady’s completion percentage has been under 60% for five weeks in a row, which illustrates the chemistry issues he’s had with his receivers. It’s always risky to claim that Brady is declining, but it’s difficult to completely ignore his regression.
Whether you’re looking at the basic or advanced statistics, it’s obvious that Sony Michel is a subpar running back. Michel currently ranks 17th in terms of rushing yards and 40th for yards per carry. According to football outsiders, Michel is ranked 25th for both DYAR and DVOA, which further indicates that he is underwhelming. Furthermore, Michel is the least productive rusher when it comes to generating yards after contact per attempt. Overall Michel lacks the elusiveness and strength necessary to take some pressure off of Brady’s shoulders, and he’ll be even less impactful against the Bills stout run D.
Similar to Buffalo, the Patriots’ secondary has been menacing. They currently lead the NFL in interceptions, while holding opponents to less than 175 passing yards per game. Stephon Gilmore has continued to excel as the league’s best coverage corner, with a whopping six interceptions this year. In fact, when Andy Dalton targeted Stephon Gilmore six times last Sunday, he caught two interceptions (same as all Bengals WRs) and returned one for a TD.
New England Patriots Depth Chart
X-Factors For Both Teams
Both the Bills and Pats are led by phenomenal defenses with stupendous secondaries that stifle opponents. In order for the Patriots to get an edge on Saturday, they’re going to need to lean on their front seven to generate pressure against the Bills’ offensive line. Buffalo’s OL has allowed 34 sacks, along with an 8.4% sack rate, which means that they lose many battles in the trenches. On the other side of the field, the Bills will need to lean on their tight ends if they’re going to successfully move the ball. While the Patriots are phenomenal against the wide receivers, they are less impressive against TEs.
Tom Brady should be avoided in week 16 due to the Patriots’ struggles coupled with the Bills’ tough defensive unit. Since week nine, Brady has been a subpar fantasy quarterback who is only averaging 13.5 points throughout that timespan. This has been due to the fact that Patriots WRs are having difficulty gaining separation, and will have one of their toughest outings this Saturday. The Buffalo Bills defense is limiting teams to the 3rd fewest passing yards and QB fantasy points this year, thereby making Brady a low-end QB3/tier 4 QB at best in the deepest of leagues.
For the first time in nine weeks, Julian Edelman was held below ten fantasy points after his week 15 outing against Cincy. What should have been an impressive game, turned into a 2.9 fantasy point dud due to chemistry issues, along with a knee injury. To make matters worse, the Bills currently hold opposing wide receivers to the fifth-least fantasy points in the NFL due to the stellar play of Tre’Davious White. Edelman is currently listed as questionable, but if he is able to suit up, he is a modest WR2/flex option due to the fact that he’ll be mostly shadowed by White this Saturday.
Despite throwing for less than 140 yards, Allen had a modestly good performance against the Steelers due to his mobility. This season, Josh Allen currently ranks in the top ten for total TDs this season because he is a quality dual-threat QB, especially in the red zone. The Patriots have been hit or miss against dual-threat signal-callers this season, but struggle against them more so than pocket-passers. If you’re desperate for a QB this weekend, Allen is a satisfactory option, but he is a low-end QB2/modest QB3 at best on Saturday.
After being classified as a deep-threat receiver for most of his career, John Brown has surprisingly morphed into a complete, versatile wideout. Throughout most of this season, Brown has actually been a quality wideout, who has put up 10+ points in all but two outings. This week, the Bills desperately need to lean on Brown in order to move the ball against a tough Patriots defense. Despite the fact that Stephon Gilmore will probably shadow Brown for the majority of Saturday, Brown is a great flex option.
Throughout the season, Devin Singletary has been a running back whose production remains solid regardless of his matchup. However, his ceiling is lower than most fantasy running backs due to the fact that he’s splitting touches with Josh Allen. Nevertheless, he is a great flex option this week because of his receiving skills. If you’re shallow at the RB position or going against an owner with an elite RB combo, it’d be smart to add Singletary if you can.