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54 thoughts on the Patriots’ Week 13 opponent, the Buffalo Bills

Related: Patriots vs. Bills preview: Get to meet New England’s Week 13 opponent

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

Even though they have already lost more games in 2021 than all of last season, the Buffalo Bills are an impressive football team. They enter Week 13 with a 7-4 record, and ranked among the best teams in the league on both offense and defense; their +144 scoring differential and +9 turnover differential speak for themselves.

Needless to say that the New England Patriots will have their hands full going up against that talented an opponent — an opponent that has as good a starting lineup in all three phases as any team in football, but significant depth behind it as well. In order to get a better picture of that Bills team, let’s dig into their roster a bit.

Let’s get to meet all of their 53 active players at the moment, plus one candidate to return off injured reserve before the Monday night game.

(Note: The 53-man roster is up-to-date as of Thursday 8 a.m. ET)

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen: Now in his fourth year with the Bills, the former first-round draft pick has established himself as one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Playing at a Pro Bowl level yet again, he has completed 66.8 percent of his passes so far this season for 3,071 yards and 25 touchdowns. While turnovers have been a minor concern — he already tied last year’s interception total with 10 and lost two fumbles — Allen continues to show why Buffalo gave him a massive contract extension during the offseason.

Mitchell Trubisky: The second overall pick of the 2017 draft arrived in Buffalo earlier this offseason via a one-year contract. Trubisky is the number two quarterback behind Allen, and as such only taking the field in clean-up duty. He has appeared in five games so far.

Offensive backfield

Matt Breida: A versatile member of the Bills’ running back group, Breida has 27 touches for 176 yards and three touchdowns on his résumé so far. The former rookie free agent saw only marginal action early on during the season, but has been on the field for one-third of offensive snaps in back-to-back weeks now.

Reggie Gilliam: Gilliam is not just serving as the Bills’ fullback, he also is a core special teamer: a member of all four coverage and return teams, he is Buffalo’s leader in kicking game snaps with a playing time share of 79.9 percent. For comparison, he has played only 14.2 percent of offensive snaps so far.

Taiwan Jones: Jones is a running back in name only. The 33-year-old has played just one offensive snap this season, and a mere 10 in four seasons as a Bill. Like Riggie Gilliam, his value comes in the kicking game: Jones is ranked third on the team in special teams snaps and also has registered a fumble recovery.

Zack Moss: A third-round draft selection by the Bills last year, Moss is serving as the team’s RB2 behind Devin Singletary. In that role, the versatile youngster has touched the ball 93 times this season for 431 yards as well as 5 touchdowns. Moss’ status heading into Week 13 is in question, however, after he was a healthy scratch last week.

Devin Singletary: The Bills’ leader in both rushing attempts (98) and rushing yards (459), Singletary is the undisputed top option in the team’s backfield. Playing roughly half of the team’s offensive snaps on a week-to-week basis, he is a versatile playmaker: besides serving as a ball carrier, Singletary has also caught 26 passes for 118 yards. His 577 yards from scrimmage are ranked third on the team behind wideouts Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders.

Wide receivers

Cole Beasley: Following an offseason full of controversy, Beasley is back in his usual role as a reliable slot option for Josh Allen. The 32-year-old is Buffalo’s WR3 in terms of playing time — being on the field for 63.2 percent of snaps — and has caught 62 passes for 530 yards and a touchdown in his 11 games this season.

Gabriel Davis: While not as big a part of the Bills’ offensive attack as he was as a rookie last year, Davis still has put up some solid numbers as a fourth wide receiver. The 6-foot-2 receiver has caught 17 passes for 312 yards and a pair of scores this year. His 18.4 yards per catch are tops on the team.

Stefon Diggs: Ever since arriving via trade from the Minnesota Vikings last year, Diggs has been the best wide receiver on Buffalo’s roster and Josh Allen’s go-to guy. This season is no exception: Diggs is playing at a Pro Bowl level yet again and is leading his team in receptions (67), yards (847) and touchdowns (7). A true WR1, the 28-year-old is capable of lining up both on the outside and in the slot.

Jake Kumerow: A short-time member of the Patriots’ practice squad, Kumerow has seen only marginal action on offense this season. He has, however, been on the field for 54.4 percent of Buffalo’s special teams snaps thus far.

Isaiah McKenzie: McKenzie’s primary impact does not come at his listed position of wide receiver but rather in the return game. The former undrafted free agent, who is in his fourth season with the Bills, has run back a combined 39 punts and kickoffs this year. He is averaging 8.7 yards per attempt on punt returns and 24.9 on kickoffs.

Emmanuel Sanders: The veteran wideout arrived in Buffalo as a free agent earlier this year, and has carved out a role as the team’s number two behind Stefon Diggs. Actually leading the Bills in wide receiver snaps, Sanders has caught 36 passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns. His 15.5 yards per reception are second on the team behind only Gabriel Davis’ 18.4.

Marquez Stevenson: The sixth-round rookie made his NFL debut last week against New Orleans, playing one offensive snap and eight on special teams. With Isaiah McKenzie inactive, he returned five punts for 49 yards.

Tight ends

Dawson Knox: The third-year man has established himself as one of the better tight ends in football this season. An able blocker and solid receiver, Knox is on the field for two-thirds of the team’s offensive snaps, aligning both in-line and split out wide. So far, he has caught 31 passes for 415 yards and a franchise-record seven touchdowns.

Tommy Sweeney: Serving as the TE2 behind Knox, Sweeny has played 30.7 percent of offensive snaps this season. Serving primarily as an in-line option, he has caught nine passes for 44 yards and one touchdown.

Offensive tackles

Spencer Brown: A third-round draft pick earlier this year, Brown was activated off the Covid-19 reserve list earlier this week. The 23-year-old has started four games at right tackle earlier this year, and could be a candidate to reenter the starting lineup this week. If so, his return might lead to Daryl Williams being moved inside to right guard.

Dion Dawkins: Buffalo’s starting left tackle continues to be one of the most reliable players on the team’s roster. Leading the team in offensive playing time (97.6%), he is solid as both a run blocker and a pass protector: through 11 games, Dawkins has given up only four sacks. Two of those, however, have come last week against New Orleans.

Bobby Hart: A journeyman on his third stint with the Bills, Hart has yet to play a game for the team. He was added to the roster off the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad after Spencer Brown and Jon Feliciano became unavailable.

Daryl Williams: Williams has started every game this season, moving between his primary position of right tackle and right guard. With Spencer Brown back, he might kick inside again after starting four of the last five games at tackle. No matter where he lines up, though, the 29-year-old is a solid contributor.

Interior offensive line

Ryan Bates: Bates has been active for every one of the Bills’ games this season, but he is only seeing the field a handful of snaps each week: he is serving as a versatile backup along the interior and as an extra in-line blocker if needed.

Ike Boettger: Buffalo’s top interior backup, Boettger has started six games at left guard so far this season. With Jon Feliciano possibly returning off injured reserve, however, there is a chance that he will not be part of the starting lineup this week.

Jamil Douglas: A Super Bowl champion with the 2016 Patriots, Douglas has appeared in just one game this season: he was on the field for two offensive snaps during the blowout win in New Orleans last week.

Jon Feliciano (IR-DFR): The Bills’ nominal starting left guard is not on the 53-man roster at the moment, but this could very well change ahead of Monday’s game. Buffalo opened his 21-day return window to come back from injured reserve this week. If indeed activated, he will replace Ike Boettger in the starting lineup and add to his six games this season.

Cody Ford: A former second-round draft pick who has played exclusively at right guard this year, Ford has started six games so far in 2021. There is a chance that he is removed from the starting lineup against the Patriots, however: with Spencer Brown back and Daryl Williams a candidate to move inside, Ford might be headed for the bench.

Mitch Morse: Buffalo’s starting center has rarely left the field this year, playing 96.6 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. A well-rounded lineman as both a run blocker and pass protector, Morse is among the better centers in the league.

Interior defensive line

Vernon Butler: Now in his second season since joining the Bills, the former first-round draft pick has had a relatively quiet season so far. Butler has played in seven games as a rotational option along the interior defensive line, showing more downs than ups as both a run defender and pass rusher.

Star Lotulelei: A big-bodied nose tackle, Lotulelei is coming fresh off a stint on the Covid-19 reserve list. The 6-foot-2, 315-pound defender has started all seven of the games he was active for this season, playing roughly half of Buffalo’s snaps along the way.

Ed Oliver: Buffalo’s first-round draft pick in 2019 leads all of the team’s defensive linemen with a playing time share of 57.3 percent so far this year. Playing in all 11 games this season, Oliver has performed well as both a pass rusher and a run defender — being an every-down presence up front for one of the NFL’s best units.

Harrison Phillips: After missing some time earlier this year, Phillips has recently started three straight games. While he might return to more of a rotational role with Lotulelei back, he offers plenty of experience and playmaking ability from the interior of the Bills’ D-line. So far, Phillips has picked up 22 tackles, with 19 of them coming against the run.

Defensive edge

Mario Addison: One of multiple former Carolina Panthers to join the Bills recently, Addison arrived on a three-year contract earlier this year. Since then, the 34-year-old is serving as a rotational edge option: playing 42 percent of defensive snaps, he has notched four sacks and a forced fumble.

Carlos Basham Jr: The Bills’ second-round rookie has seen only spot duty so far this season. Basham Jr. has appeared in four games as a versatile rotational piece, registering 1.5 sacks along the way.

A.J. Epenesa: A second-round pick by the Bills a year ago, Epenesa continues to run hot and cold. He has had some ups and downs as a run defender, but has had solid performances in the pass rush department. In terms of playing time, he is the fourth option on the edge behind Jerry Hughes, Gregory Rousseau and Mario Addison.

Jerry Hughes: Buffalo’s number one edge defender and most disruptive player, Hughes has picked up only 1.5 sacks but 20 additional quarterback disruptions. Aligning both on the left and the right side of the formation, the 33-year-old is still aa player worth prioritizing from an offensive perspective.

Efe Obada: Obada has played 20 percent of Buffalo’s defensive snaps so far, registering 1.5 sacks along the way. Another former Panther, Obada has aligned all over the formation — moving between the edge and even the nose.

Gregory Rousseau: The Bills invested the 30th selection in this year’s draft in the Miami product, and he has come as advertised. Rousseau has played 51.4 percent of defensive snaps and, as the number two edge option, picked up 3.0 sacks as well as an interception. Rousseau aligns primarily on the left side of the formation, going up against the opposing right tackle.

Off-the-ball linebackers

Tyrel Dodson: Dodson has played only a handful of snaps as an off-the-ball linebacker this year. The majority of his action, meanwhile, has come in the kicking game: he is ranked fourth with a playing time share of 65.2 snaps and has picked up a combined five tackles.

Tremaine Edmunds: Another former first-round draft pick on the Buffalo defense, Edmunds is the leader of the unit. Wearing the communication device in his helmet, he is responsible for relaying the defensive calls and properly setting the lineup. In this role, the 23-year-old rarely leaves the field and has established himself as a productive tone-setter for the entire unit — one who has looked good as a run defender, pass rusher and coverage linebacker.

A.J. Klein: A backup linebacker and special teamer, Klein has started three of his 11 games so far this season and registered 30 tackles and a fumble recovery. If Buffalo has all hands on deck in its off-the-ball department, Klein will only see limited action, though.

Tyler Matakevich: Matakevich has seen some snaps on defense this year and even registered the first interception of his career in a blowout win over the Houston Texans, but he is a special teamer through and through. The 28-year-old is second on the team in both kicking game snaps (78.5%) and tackles (8).

Matt Milano: The Robin to Tremaine Edmunds’ Batman, Milano has started all 10 of his games so far this season and rarely left the field. A solid all-around linebacker who always appears to be around the ball, the 26-year-old has recovered a team-high two fumbles this season.

Andre Smith: While listed as a linebacker, Smith has played zero snaps so far on defense this season. Instead, he is a core special teamer for the Bills. Seeing action on all four coverage and return units, he has picked up seven tackles and a fumble recovery.

Cornerbacks

Dane Jackson: With Tre’Davious White on injured reserve after tearing his ACL last week, Jackson appears to be the team’s next man up to take over the vacant starting perimeter gig. So far this season, he has played just 18.3 percent of the Bills’ defensive snaps, allowing five receptions for 67 yards on eight targets. The expectation, however, is that he will be tested quite a bit on Monday night.

Taron Johnson: The Bills’ number one slot cornerback, Johnson has started all 11 of the team’s games so far this season. Along the way, he has registered an interception, a sack, and a forced fumble — all while allowing only 53.2 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed. The fourth-year man is a valuable member of the Buffalo defense.

Cam Lewis: Now in his third year with the Bills, Lewis is an emergency option only: he has appeared in just one game so far this season. With Tre’Davious White’s knee injury putting pressure on the cornerback depth, however, he might find himself on the game day roster again sooner rather than later.

Siran Neal: Neal has seen only irregular defensive playing time this season, but he is a core member of Buffalo’s kicking game operation. Thus far, the 27-year-old has registered a team-high nine combined tackles — including one that forced a fumble. Neal is seeing regular action on all four kick coverage and return teams.

Levi Wallace: With Tre’Davious White out for the season, Levi Wallace will take over as Buffalo’s number one cornerback. It remains to be seen how he will fare, but the 26-year-old has looked good as a CB2 so far this year: Wallace has registered two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and is allowing a completion rate of only 59.3 percent when targeted. Like the rest of the Bills’ cornerbacks, he too is traveling all over the formation depending on the call.

Safeties

Damar Hamlin: A part-time defender and part-time special teamer, the sixth-round rookie has seen action in nine games so far this year. At this point in his career, Hamlin is a backup option for the Bills.

Micah Hyde: Hyde is a do-it-all member of the Bills’ secondary and one of the best safeties in football. Moving between the box, the slot and safety alignments, he is the team’s leader in defensive playing time (93.5%) and has proven himself a playmaker against the pass and the run. So far this year, Hyde has picked off three passes — including one that was returned for a touchdown — has recovered two fumbles and forced another, and notched a sack.

Jaquan Johnson: The Bills’ third safety in terms of playing time, Johnson has seen most of his action so far this season on special teams. That said, he still has been able to grab an interception in his comparatively limited opportunities as a free safety.

Jordan Poyer: Micah Hyde’s congenial partner in the backend of the Buffalo defense, Poyer is the team’s leader in interceptions (5) and one of the top players his position has to offer. Another versatile player capable of aligning deep, in the slot and closer to the line of scrimmage, the 30-year-old is massively important to the Bills’ defense as a playmaker and key communicator.

Specialists

Tyler Bass: Now in his second season as Buffalo’s place kicker, Bass has shown improvement across the board: his field goal success rate improved from 82.4 to 87 percent, while he has also not missed an extra point all year long. Bass also handles kickoff duties.

Matt Haack: While the Bills’ punt returners are averaging 9 yards per runback, opponents’ only have been able to gain 5.8 per attempt. The coverage plays a big part in this, but so does Haack’s punting.

Reid Ferguson: The Bills’ long snapper. He has picked up one tackle this year.