On Sunday, the New England Patriots won their tenth game of the season by defeating the visiting Buffalo Bills with a final score of 24-12. While the team did not play a perfect game especially when it comes to passing the football on offense, it was dominant in certain areas: the Patriots were outstanding when it came to rushing the football and also held the Bills’ passing offense in check all game long.
As a result, it is no surprise to see the Patriots well represented on advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus’ team of the week: four players have made the cut and all three phases of the game are featured.
Shaq Mason, New England Patriots – 85.5 overall grade
Mason delivered by far the top performance by a guard this week, allowing just one hit in pass protection, and delivering some dominant blocks in the running game. Mason is pushing a career year in terms of PFF grade and has made his case as the top right guard in the NFL this year.
Shaq Mason is living up to the contract extension the Patriots gave him this summer — and on Sunday, the 25-year old was again dominant as both a pass protector and a run blocker. The latter in particular saw Mason be active: no matter if New England used zone or man blocking concepts or used his athleticism as a lead pull-blocker, the was outstanding and played a key role in the Patriots rushing for 275 yards on 45 carries.
Jason McCourty, New England Patriots – 91.5 overall grade
It wasn’t a perfect day for McCourty, as he did allow a touchdown in coverage, but it was pretty impressive all the same. He allowed just 50% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught and came away with a pass breakup and an interception.
While Pro Football Focus has Jason McCourty with a higher completion percentage given up as opposed to our trusted source of statistics, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the gist remains the same: the veteran, who earned his first-ever playoff birth and division championship in the process, played an impressive game against the Bills — and he was not the only cornerback to stand out on Sunday.
J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots – 88.4 overall grade
Jackson was on the field for 45 passing plays in Sunday’s win over the Bills and wasn’t the primary defender in coverage on a single pass attempt. He still found a way to make plays though, as he peeled off to locate the ball on a floated Josh Allen pass and recorded an interception.
J.C. Jackson continues to be an absolute steal for the Patriots. The undrafted rookie, who Howe has jotted down with two pass attempts thrown at him but zero completions given up, was the only New England cornerback to play all 61 snaps against Buffalo — and he was outstanding once more. Jackson has carved out a role as a starting perimeter cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore and alongside McCourty and he is producing a terrific season.
Matthew Slater, New England Patriots, 93.0 overall grade
Slater saw 20 snaps on special teams, playing across the kick return, kick coverage, punt return and punt coverage unit. He registered two tackles on the day.
A few days after being denied an eighth Pro Bowl berth, Matthew Slater played arguably his bet game of the season: playing 20 of 29 snaps in the kicking game, Slater finished the contest with two tackles, two downed punts and a partially blocked punt attempt that sailed for just 10 yards. It was an impressive outing by Slater, who showed why he is still among the NFL’s premier kicking game players.