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Week 11 Game Plan: Patriots vs. Bills, Round 2

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Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 2, the Patriots served the Bills and their fan base humble pie with a 40-32 win that wasn't even that close. Now comes the rematch on Monday Night Football in Foxboro. The Patriots are banged up on offense, but are starting to get healthy with the return of Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, and Tre Jackson upfront. The Bills are still without their top safety Aaron Williams, who left the Week 2 game on an ambulance after a very scary neck injury. For the Patriots, the offensive game plan doesn't change to much. Punish off-coverage and be prepared for Rex Ryan's blitzes. On defense, take away Sammy Watkins' ability to take the top off the defense and limit their running game.

Tom Brady Needs to Be Ready For Anything and Everything: One of the trademarks of a Rex Ryan defense is they like to throw a lot of eye candy at the QB. Whether it's crowding the line of scrimmage with potential blitzers to force a quick throw into coverage or blitz from unique spots with players that aren't in the box, there's a lot to worry about. In Brady's case, he needs to be able to set the protections because the Patriots should have some favorable matchups with their receivers. One thing Brady should look for is if the Bills play off-man or zone coverage, which is where they can really hurt them. In the Week 2 game, Brady consistently attacked the off-man defender with Aaron Dobson with crossers to get the corners to back off and stop routes when they did.

Next Man Up: The Patriots receiving corps suffered two major injuries with Dion Lewis out for the season and Julian Edelman out for 6+ weeks. The saying is always "Next Man Up", which means either Aaron Dobson, Scott Chandler, Keshawn Martin, or James White need to step up and produce for the offense. It's going to take a combination of the 4, since you can't replace Edelman's production with just one player. I've illustrated how the Patriots have previously used Dobson and Martin, and how well those two could function in this offense. We know that Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola will produce in this offense, but the team needs a third reliable receiver for this game.

Limit Sammy Watkins' Impact: Sammy Watkins can be a difficult cover for a lot of CBs, including Darrelle Revis, which could create problems for Malcolm Butler. Given how well Butler performed against Odell Beckham Jr. against the Giants, it only gets easier for him. Butler is a significantly better player today than he was in the Week 2 matchup, which means that Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia are comfortable putting him on Watkins and shading McCourty towards Watkins side of the field to help over the top. If Butler gets the better end of this matchup, the Bills will labor to score 20 points.

Keep Tyrod Taylor in the Pocket: Russell Wilson, Johnny Manziel, Tyrod Taylor are all very similar quarterbacks in terms of style of play. They are very good at extending plays and can be very deadly outside of the pocket as weither a runner or a passer. Once they get out of the pocket, they can make things happen, and Belichick certainly doesn't want this game to turn into backyard football if he can help it. One of the things the Patriots did well in the Week 2 game was they kept Taylor in the pocket, which led to 8 sacks in the game. Taylor is not very good at operating in the pocket, compared to your prototypical pocket passer.

Final score prediction has the Patriots winning 28-21. I think the Bills will stay in this game primarily due to the uncertainty surrounding the New England offense. I was wrong on the first game, predicting the Bills to win. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots play this game, but with a home game against the Bills they're expected to win and with Denver coming up next week on the road, I could see the team starting off a bit slow in the first half.