The Buffalo Bills won last week against the New York Giants, but a lot of Bills Mafia left feeling like it was a loss. The 14-9 victory was anything but reassuring. However, I have said numerous times since that game, “a win is a win.” Last I checked, that was the point of why they play the games. Buffalo was a 14-point favorite in that game, and despite the close outcome, it comes into its Week 7 matchup with 1-5 New England as nine-point favorites. That’s the biggest spread against the Patriots, even though they have already played the Eagles and Dolphins. Without further ado, here are my top five storylines to watch as the Bills hit the road for the North East as they travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on the Pats on Sunday at 1:00.
It’s become rare for both coaches in an NFL game to come from a defensive background. That is the case this weekend when Buffalo visits New England. Sean McDermott is currently doing a much better job of holding up his side of the bargain than his counterpart, Bill Belichick. The Bills enter Sunday sixth in defensive DVOA and third (14.8) in points per game allowed. Meanwhile, the Patriots are 14th in defensive DVOA and 24th (25.3) in points per game allowed.
For much of my lifetime (I turn 40 at the end of October), the Bills and Patriots series has been called a rivalry, but hasn’t been very competitive. This remains true of late; however, the pendulum has swung in Buffalo’s favor. A win on Sunday and the Bills have won five straight in this matchup. The thing that makes Bills fans the happiest is these games haven’t been very competitive either. Last season, Buffalo won by 12 and 14. The year before, the Bills won a playoff game by 30 and the second regular season game by 12. Another double-digit win would make almost everyone in Western New York happy campers.
At the beginning of the season, getting off to a fast start was a calling card for the Bills. That has switched in a big way over the last three games. During that span, Buffalo has fallen to 17th in the league in first-quarter points at just 4.7. The numbers for the first half aren’t much better. The Bills are putting up just 12.7 points through the first 30 minutes, which places them at 13th in the NFL.
I touched on it a bit when talking about these two coaches. The Bills’ defense has been phenomenal this season. As mentioned, they are sixth in DVOA, and Buffalo is eighth in Pro Football Focus’ defensive grade at 76.3. To go with being third in points against, the Bills are also seventh in passing yards allowed, fourth in touchdowns allowed per game, and third in takeaways per game.
What’s the Frequency Kenneth
If you have logged into social media this week, you have seen plenty of discourse about Ken Dorsey and his playcalling. I am not going to rehash all of it, but I will share some very simple stats about the Bills’ offense over the last 15 months. Under Dorsey this season, they are third in points per game and fifth in yards per game. They were second in both a season ago, Dorsey’s first year calling plays. PFF has their offensive grade at 79.8, which is the fourth best. Last year, they were ninth at 77.7. I’m not telling you to like him or not, but I am sharing some surface stats with him up in the booth.