New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense
The New England Patriots have leaned on their rushing offense–particularly starting running back LeGarrette Blount–through the first three weeks of the season. Without quarterback Tom Brady the Patriots lead the NFL in rushing yards (452 yards) and Blount leading the NFL with 298 yards on the ground.
The offensive line has been up-to-par for the Patriots as offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has made a significant impact since coming out of retirement. With tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon healthy it emphasizes how much of the issues running last year were due to health up front. The tackles are both huge and able to move bodies in the running game.
Center David Andrews had a great game last week lining up against former New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Last year the team was undefeated (9-0) when Andrews started at center. Add in the 3-0 start this season and Andrews could be a good luck charm for the team.
Rookie left guard Joe Thuney remains a strong run blocker teaming with Solder to give the Patriots a solid left side to run to. Thuney. He has looked like a steal as a third-round draft pick. He and second-year right guard Shaq Mason are both strong, athletic and showcase excellent mobility and footwork with their ability to pull and lead the running back into the hole.
The Bills may be missing Marcell Dareus due to suspension but they still have a formidable defensive line. If the Patriots offensive line can make space in the running game the offense should be able to dictate the game on Sunday. Buffalo has struggled at times against the run (294 yards allowed over three games) and the Patriots appear more committed to their running game with so much uncertainty at the quarterback position.
The Bills have two solid run-stuffers with inside linebackers Preston Brown and Zach Brown, but without Marcell Dareus on the defensive line, too many of their tackles are occurring downfield. Leger Douzable, Corbin Bryant and Adolphus Washington are solid, but not spectacular. If LeGarrette Blount gets to the second level of the defense the Bills are going to have problems all afternoon trying to bring him down.