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New England Patriots Week 4 Game Plan vs. Buffalo Bills

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The Patriots host the Bills in an afternoon showdown.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The game plan for this week will assume that the Patriots will either play a limited Jimmy Garoppolo or rookie Jacoby Brissett at QB, which means the offense will not likely run at full capacity, if you assume the Week 2 offense is full capacity. So once again, defense and special teams will have to carry the team to victory which isn't too much to ask for since they've already done so two of the three games.

Keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket, make him beat you as a passer: The Patriots have a clear game plan to attacking Tyrod Taylor from the defensive side of the ball. Taylor is a shorter QB at 5'10" and can make plays with his feet if you let him. His greatest asset as a quarterback is his ability to scramble to free up an open receiver or take off and lengthen drives. I usually find the Russell Wilson comps with every mobile QB to be absurd, but this one actually makes sense. The Patriots have a good game plan against these short, mobile QBs as they were able to fluster Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX and had success pressuring Taylor last season. The defensive front is going to have to rush controlled and not let themselves get blocked past the QB. Patriots likely leave in a spy in case Taylor tries to break contain, most likely it will be Jonathan Freeny or Shea McClellin operating in that capacity if Dont'a Hightower is unable to go. If the Patriots force Taylor to have to dink and dunk from the pocket to move the ball, the defense will get off the field.

Take away LeSean McCoy: The one player on the Bills offense you red flag and say won't beat us is LeSean McCoy. McCoy is very capable of taking over the game as either a rusher, receiver, or both. I expect to see a lot of heavy fronts early on, although the Patriots have done a good job at stopping the run with their new 3 safety "base" package. If the Patriots can defend the run with just the just the defensive line, that's doing more than we can hope for. In order for the Bills to win, they're going to have to rely on guys like Robert Woods to move the chains and make the plays on offense. Woods has put up solid numbers against the Patriots in the past, but that's because they're more concerned with Watkins and McCoy. Watkins is hobbled with a foot injury after getting it surgically repaired in the offseason and probably doesn't need extra attention. If the Bills can't run the ball and don't have the big play available, the Bills have shown they cannot sustain drives to win football games, even though the Patriots defense bends a bit more than most.

Activate Blount Force: Blount leads the league in rushing yards coming into Week 4 and the game plan should be more of the same. The good news is the Bills defensive front is not at full strength with Marcell Dareus suspended for one more game, which I guess could be a consolation prize for Brady being unfairly suspended by Führer Goodell. The Patriots have had the most success running from the left edge of the offense with Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, James Develin, Martellus Bennett, and sometimes Shaq Mason pulling to that side. Blount has been more effective rushing the ball outside the tackles, although the Patriots may have some success up the middle since the Bills top DT is an aging Kyle Williams. If Blount has his 3rd consecutive 100 yard game and scores a couple touchdowns, I like the team's chances of getting to 4-0.

Take care of the football: I feel like this is a game where if the Patriots avoid turning the ball over that Special Teams will win the field position battle. The offense is going to have to put up points, but I think if the offense doesn't turn the ball over, special teams wins the field position battle, and the defense gets a couple takeaways that should be the difference in the game. If Garoppolo is at QB and is able to perform close to where he was pre-injury, the margin of error is a bit wider for the Patriots in this regard. If the Patriots go +2 in the turnover department, I don't see how the Bills win this game at all.

For a score prediction, I think the Patriots handily win this one 34-21. The Patriots are the more talented and better coached team plus the Patriots have 3 extra days to game plan for the game the Bills don't have. Only way I see the Patriots blowing this one is if the offense gets really sloppy and the defense reads their press clippings too much and doesn't play. This is a divisional game and if the Patriots can start 3 games ahead of the rest of the division and a 2-0 record without Brady, they already are better off than they were if they just let Tom play.