The Patriots will travel on the road to play the Buffalo Bills at Ralph C. Wilson Stadium. Both teams are 1-0 and looking to stake an early claim on the division. The Patriots are the top of the heap when it comes to the AFC East, and the Bills are certainly hoping to change their fortunate against the Patriots. The Patriots have won 23 of their last 26 match-ups against the Bills, although the 3rd loss was last year after the Patriots elected to rest all their key players after claiming Home Field Advantage the Monday before the game. The overwhelming story lines this week will be Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan Round XIV, but here are some players who could end up making a big impact for the Patriots on Sunday.
RB Dion Lewis- Dion Lewis had 19 touches for 120 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with 15/69 on the ground and 4/51 in the air. In the past, the Patriots have utilized their receiving backs to attack the Bills defenses and move the ball against the linebackers in space. I don't expect Lewis to have a big day rushing the ball, but could end up having a large impact as a receiver out of the backfield and against linebackers in single coverage. I could definitely see Lewis picking up around 15-20 touches again.
TE Scott Chandler- The former Buffalo Bill now returns to Ralph Wilson Stadium, but as a member of the New England Patriots. Chandler didn't have much of an impact in Week 1, as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Dion Lewis were the primary horses for the offense. If there is one potential weakness, it's linebacker coverage in space and the Patriots may opt to use Scott Chandler against linebackers in certain situations. Chandler's touchdown came against linebacker coverage and could get some targets if the Bills do a better job than the Steelers of directing coverage to Gronk's way.
S Patrick Chung- Rex Ryan is known for Ground and Pound, which means the Patriots may need to put a safety in the box more frequently than they did against the Steelers. I could see Chung playing an extra linebacker role, playing up against the run and manning up against tight ends and backs. The Patriots used a 3-safety nickel package against the Steelers 2 TE packages with Chung serving as the hybrid SS/OLB role. We could definitely see more of the same, although we're more likely to see 8-man boxes with a Single-High safety and the cornerbacks on an island on the outside. Chung is one of the best run stopping safeties in the NFL and his services are in high-demand this week.
DT Sealver Siliga- Siliga is the Patriots best run stopping nose tackle, and the Patriots view him that way given the snap count he got against a more pass heavy team in the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the Bills more geared towards running the football, there is a need for Siliga to play more snaps. If the Patriots edge defense is able to keep the edge and force the Bills to bounce their runs inside, interior defensive line play is needed to prevent McCoy and others from breaking into the second level. This is where Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, and Siliga need to be able to plug their gaps and close any holes for the running back.