Patriots: Bills expert predicts results of Week 8 battle
By Adam Weinrib
Brandon Croce of BuffaLowDown predicts what will happen in Patriots-Bills Week 8.
The Patriots are in uncharted waters this season, heading to Buffalo to battle the Bills as (gasps for a half-minute) underdogs, rocking a 2-4 record.
But what are our rivals up north actually thinking about this game? Do they have reason to be nervous, thanks to the enduring nature of the Patriot Way? Or are they cocky enough that we can start preparing our most vicious comebacks when this results in an inevitable Pats victory?
I got the chance to speak to Brandon Croce, Bills fan and site expert at BuffaLowDown to get a window into all things Bills Mafia ahead of this battle.
1. Josh Allen looked like an MVP candidate through the first few weeks of the season, but his next couple of outings appear to be marred by inconsistency. Are you still confident in Allen as a player who is prepared to win close games and prevail in January?
The fourth quarter hasn’t really been the issue for Josh Allen. He has been one of the best quarterbacks in the fourth quarter and in the closing minutes of games. It has always been the first three quarters that have caused concern. The first four games he looked tremendous, and I think he absolutely was an MVP candidate. The wheels came off a bit against the Titans and Chiefs, but the game against the Jets was the get-right game he needed. He didn’t have any touchdowns (although one was called back due to illegal formation) but he did complete over 70% of his passes and broke the 300-yard mark. Those were the numbers fans wanted to see, and he is doing that on a regular basis.
2. Buffalo’s defense has remained stout, even as their offense has regressed somewhat. Who are three members of the Bills defense who Patriots fans might not know or be prepared for?
At the top of the list is cornerback Tre’Davious White. The Buffalo Bills drafted White in response to Stephon Gilmore leaving for New England and he has looked every bit the part as a top, shutdown corner for this defense. The next player is someone who has underwhelmed a bit but the coaching staff is going to look for a big game from him and that is defensive tackle Ed Oliver. The Top 10 pick from a season ago is an athletic defensive tackle and has the quickness to penetrate and collapse pockets quickly. The important responsibility he will have this week is to not overrun Cam Newton, knowing he can escape and beat teams with his legs. The last player (and this is someone who is under-the-radar and right now is not guaranteed to start) is safety Jaquan Johnson. It doesn’t appear Micah Hyde will be available this week because he is in the concussion protocol, and Johnson is someone that I am going to be interested in watching closely. He was a sixth-round pick of the Bills last year and has looked pretty good when on the field.
3. In a season unlike any other, how has it affected the Bills Mafia that they’re unable to congregate as they’d like to? Is it putting a damper on the team’s success? What would a home playoff game be like without fans?
I think fans are still enjoying the team’s success but I think there is certainly something missing by not being able to get to come together and watch the games from Bills Stadium. There isn’t a fan that wouldn’t want to see the Buffalo Bills get a home playoff game, but it would certainly be disappointing that the first home playoff game since 1996 wasn’t able to have fans in attendance.
4. What do you think will be the one key to this game and do you have a final score prediction?
The key to the game for me this week is going to be: Can the Bills defense slow the Patriots run game? This has been a bit of a weakness, and with the injuries the Patriots have at wide receiver, I expect the Pats to lean heavily on the run game from Damien Harris to Cam Newton. If the Buffalo Bills can shut this down and build a big lead that forces the Patriots to throw, this creates a great recipe for success. The Buffalo Bills know the importance of this game, from divisional record to just the symbolism of getting past the New England Patriots, and I expect them to come out focused. With that said, I think the Bills are able to get the job done and come away with 24-13 win over the Patriots.