Offensively, Mac Jones will have to throw the football more than three times.
Even though the appeal of running on Buffalo’s defense still stands, New England will be without rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson (Covid-19), while Damien Harris is still limited from a hamstring injury he suffered in the team’s first matchup. Plus, holding Josh Allen and the Bills to just 10 points again will be another tall task.
As Bill Belichick explained after their 14-10 Week 16 win, the Bills have not seen the Patriots’ passing attack yet in person. With Buffalo likely bringing an extra defender in the box to slow New England’s rushing attack, Mac Jones and Josh McDaniels should be expecting plenty of single high coverages.
Looking towards Tom Brady and the Bucs two weeks ago against Buffalo, Leonard Fournette found success on the ground despite the single high looks, while Brady still picked apart Buffalo’s pass defense for 363 yards and two scores.
On Sunday, Josh McDaniels should be looking to attack Buffalo’s single high looks to work with the rushing game. Against Tennessee, the Patriots ran a play-action toss — a similar play in which Damien Harris scored against Buffalo — to free Jonnu Smith across the middle.
If the Bills are as committed to stopping New England’s running game, they will be vulnerable through the air.
Now, on to the rest of the #PostPulpit mailbag.
@Here4Sports12 Will Nelson and Bourne play?
Nelson Agholor was officially ruled out for Sunday's game as he remains in concussion protocol. It’s an unfortunate loss for New England, as Agholor had a strong game against Indianapolis last Saturday (and had a chance for a much bigger night as he was open several times downfield), but New England should be able to survive with him absent.
As for Bourne, he was activated from the Covid-19 reserve list on Saturday and is expected to play.
@gafp7030 If Mac doesn’t show improvement, do you think McDaniels will leave the team?
If Josh McDaniels does depart from New England, Mac’s slow development would be quite the confusing reason. Jones has been far and away the best rookie quarterback this season — often even playing like a top 10 quarterback in the entire league. After a bit of a slow start, McDaniels and the offense appears to be getting better and better as the season goes on. I would count on the offensive coordinator staying around to continue his relationship with his rookie quarterback, unless he received the perfect offer he could not turn down.
@stantxx score predictions
With each team missing significant offensive pieces due to Covid-19 and other injuries, a total score in the 30’s wouldn't surprise me. I’ll go 21-17 New England.
@CABsYTchannel Do you see the Chiefs losing any other games? If so, what are the chances the Pats get back to the 1st seed?
The Chiefs remaining schedule goes: vs PIT, @ CIN, @ DEN. They likely will be the favorite in all three games despite dealing with a Covid outbreak. As long as Patrick Mahomes is out there, they remain the team to beat in the AFC.
@ToddDerbyshire Can we sign Chris Godwin in the off season?
According to Spotrac, the Patriots will enter this offseason with roughly $31.5 million in projected salary cap space. Despite the ACL injury, Godwin will still be in line for a mega-contract, one that would eat up more than half of New England’s available funds. With that being said, they could sign him, but likely would be better off spreading out their funds in other places. They will have a handful of their own players they need to take care of, such as J.C. Jackson, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Adrian Phillips, Trent Brown, Ted Karras, and James White.
@TMurph207 Why does Santa live at the North Pole ? why does he wear a red suit ? Why does he have a long beard Why why Why
It’s magical and always snowing. The red matches the color of his jolly cheeks (and Coca-Cola). He likes to catch the cookie crumbs in his beard for snacking during his Christmas Day journey across the world.
@MopUpReliever How far can you punt a football?
Further than you.
@Drewboyle23 Steve Belichick mullet why?
Yes. Just yes.
@mkrodik What’s for dinner
Hopefully something good. They give me the important job (beer and wine) and don't let me near the kitchen. Probably a strong choice.
That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!