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Week 8 Patriots vs Bills advanced stats: New England’s defense has a chance to build some momentum against a bad offense

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A look at the stats ahead of Monday’s meeting between the Patriots and Bills.

NFL: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots recorded their first road victory of the season last week, and will now have a chance to win two in a row – and to extend their current win streak to five: on Monday night, the Patriots will play a 2-5 Buffalo Bills team features an average defense and an offense that ranks dead last in the NFL when it comes to scoring.

Let’s analyze the matchup by taking a look at some of the advanced stats heading into the game (courtesy of SB Nation’s Bill Connelly; for his methodology please click here).

Patriots offense vs Bills defense

Normal down and distance in the open field

In the open field – between the offense’s 10 and defense’s 30 – the Bills actually match up relatively evenly with Tom Brady and company. There are two noticeable outliers, though: third down distance and big plays. Despite improving slightly when compared to last week, New England is still near the bottom when it comes to producing plays of 20+ yards. Buffalo’s defense, on the other hand, is one of the NFL’s best in stopping them. Don’t expect the Patriots to suddenly turn into an explosive offense this week.

Backed Up Situations Near the Goal Line

The Patriots continue to improve their success rate when backed up, with the turnover percentage still hurting from a tipped week one interception. The Bills’ defense, meanwhile, ranks relatively well when it comes to limiting an offense’s effectiveness inside the opposing 10-yard line.

Red Zone

Last week, the Patriots were able to slightly improve most of their red zone statistics. Against Buffalo, they could have a chance to continue this trend: while the Bills defense is among the league’s best when it comes to limiting success – an offense gaining 50% of necessary yardage on first down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third and fourth down – between the 20 and 30, the unit struggles the closer it gets to its own goal line.

Third Downs

The Patriots’ overall third down conversion rate (44.2%) ranks them eighth in the league – and the advanced stats show that the team is among the best in the NFL no matter the situation. Buffalo’s defense, meanwhile, has its fair share of problems on third downs. This, in turn, could help New England control the tempo of Monday’s game.

Blitz Situations

While the overall matchup between New England’s offense and Buffalo’s defense favors the visitors, the Bills actually match up well when it comes to sack rate in blitz situations – obvious passing downs specified as first-and-18 or more, second-and-14 or more, and third-and-3 or more. Facing a normally aggressive pass rush for the second week in a row should be another good test for a Patriots offensive line that is performing well this season but might again miss starting right tackle Marcus Cannon.

Patriots defense vs Bills offense

Normal down and distance in the open field

While the Patriots defense is inconsistent in the open field, it faces a very favorable matchup this week no matter the category: the Bills’ offense has major issues when it comes to moving the football, sustaining drives, or generating big plays. New England’s defense – despite its weaknesses – should be able to find success against this unit and generate some momentum moving forward.

Backed Up Situations Near the Goal Line

The Patriots are no world beaters when having an opposing offense pinned down inside its 10-yard line, but the statistical matchup still favors them over an offense that has a hard time moving the football when backed up – and when not backed up, it does not really make much of a difference.

Red Zone

While they struggle in the open field, the Bills offense is among the league’s best when it comes to effectiveness in the red zone (to be fair, they do have a smaller sample size than other teams). That being said, New England’s defense is improving in this area of the field as well and took a noticeable step forward when compared to last week’s advanced stats report.

Third Downs

New England’s defense is getting slightly better when it comes to defending third downs, but it still is one of the least successful teams in stopping third-and-medium as well as third-and-short. Luckily for the unit, it will go against an offense on Monday that is bad on keeping drives alive no matter the yardage it has to gain. Overall, the Bills convert just 27.4% of their third down tries – second worst in the league.

Blitz Situations

Obvious passing situations are not exactly the Patriots’ defensive strong suit, but as is the case with plenty of other categories they are again favored over the Bills offense. When forced to play from behind the sticks, Buffalo is usually unable to dig itself out of the hole.


While Buffalo has some sneaky strengths – goal line offense, open field defense – the Patriots match up very well against the team and, at least from a statistical perspective, should be able to come away with a win. That being said, New England will still need to find a way to overcome some of its personnel losses (Sony Michel will be out, Rob Gronkowski and Marcus Cannon might be limited) and recent turnover issues. All in all, though, it is hardly a surprise that the Patriots are seen as 13-point favorites.