If the Patriots beat the Bills on Monday night, it will be Tom Brady’s 16th career win at Buffalo.
That will make him the third-winningest quarterback in the history of that stadium trailing just Jim Kelly, who was the Bills’ starter for 11 seasons, and Joe Ferguson, a Bill for 16 seasons.
The Bills’ ineptitude against the Patriots when Brady starts and finishes is astonishing. They beat him fair-and-square twice -- in 2003 in the wake of the Lawyer Milloy release and in 2011 in a 34-31 shootout. The other two wins against New England came in the 2014 season finale when the Patriots mailed it in and in 2016 when Brady was suspended.
Monday night will be his 32nd start against Buffalo. So far, he’s thrown for 7,798 yards with 68 touchdowns and 22 picks while completing 65 percent of his passes.
Will it be any different this time? Unlikely.
Even though the Bills have played pretty well on defense, they’ve had so much adversity heaped on them by Buffalo’s inefficient offense (31 points in the last four games) that they’ve just been worn down.
Last week against the Colts was by far Buffalo’s worst performance. The Colts put up 220 yards on the ground (5.9 yards per carry) and went 7-for-13 on third down conversions in a 37-5 loss. The Bills had four turnovers from quarterback Derek Anderson. Twenty-four point came off of those turnovers.
There will be no Sony Michel for this game (knee) and La’Adrian Waddle will make another start at right tackle in place of Marcus Cannon. With just two healthy running backs -- James White and Kenjon Barner -- and neither of them the kind of back that carries the ball more than a dozen times a game.
So look for the Patriots to spread it out and take advantage of their complement of mismatch-making offensive weaponry.
MORE HARD TRUTHS
Getting the ball out quickly will also help neutralize a defense that likes to blitz.
“They blitz everybody,” said Brady. “They keep it moving. They've got a lot of defensive calls. I think they have a lot of good players. If you have your eyes in the wrong place, they take advantage. I think Coach [Sean] McDermott just does a great job with his guys, utilizing them all to the best of their ability. He doesn't put them in a bad positon. I have a lot of respect for this defense. I’m impressed by the way that they play, how hard they play. Everyone’s trying to get the ball off of the offensive player, stripping, punching. They're in a good position to succeed and when they get to the ball and they get a chance, they've forced I think 17 or 20 fumbles this year at this point. Last year they had a ton of interceptions. It's a really good defense. They challenge you in a lot of ways.”
Ball security is paramount in this game because turnovers may be the only way to invigorate the Bills sleepy offense. And the Bills defense has to be looking at the way the Patriots have turned it over offensively so far this season and feel like there will be a chance to get some.
New England has 13 turnovers so far this season. Their six fumbles were tied with several teams for the second-highest in the NFL entering this week.
It was a point of emphasis this week in Foxboro.
What hasn’t been emphasized? History.
When Brady was asked about his Bills mastery, he said, “I don't think anyone really cares about those records. They're a good team. They always play us tough. It's always a battle up there. I know we've had success but I think it's because we’ve never thought that, ‘Oh man, this one's going to be [easy]. We should just win this one.’ They're all tough and these guys play as hard as anybody we face. It always seems to come down to some big momentum play at some point.
“It's a Monday night game for them,” Brady added. “I think it’s just a huge game for us, a division game on the road and we don’t take anyone lightly, certainly not this team; a team that’s playing really well defensively.”
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