I kind of like that that, this week, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott wasn’t in spin mode heading into Monday night’s game with the Patriots.
His team is 2-5 and has managed 31 points in its last four games. They have turned to Derek Anderson as their quarterback since rookie Josh Allen got hurt and second-year man Nathan Peterman face-planted.
Asked if the Patriots might have the edge in dealing with the prime-time matchup since they play at night as much as they play during the day, McDermott said, “You can probably give them the advantage in most boxes this week, including that one. We’ve got young players, lot of first- and second-year players really that are getting their first NFL work. This will be [the] first Monday night game (for a lot of them), so it’s important that we can execute at a high level against probably the best team in the NFL at this point in the season.”
The Patriots are favored by 14 in this one.
If you’re considering making a friendly wager on the outcome and taking the point spread into account, one great place to start is by estimating how many points the more inept offense can reasonably expect to score.
Even with the Patriots permissive defense, it’s hard to envision Buffalo getting past 17.
Anderson was sore as hell all week after throwing three picks and losing a fumble in a 37-5 loss to the Colts. He’s 35 and could use a running game to take the heat off him. But LeSean McCoy is questionable with a concussion and Chris Ivory’s been hampered by a hamstring, so there’s your running back stable.
Neither player has been terribly effective on the ground anyway with McCoy at 3.9 yards per carry and Ivory at 3.1. McCoy -- though he’s in decline -- is the kind of back that can be an annoyance for the Patriots because of his quickness and receiving ability. Ivory gets it done with power running and a refusal to go down, but the Patriots generally deal well with that.
Meanwhile, with a 52.7 completion rate among the quarterbacks and just three TD passes against 12 picks this year, it’s not like the passing game is daunting either.
If you’re Brian Daboll, former Patriots assistant and current Bills offensive coordinator, there’s really nothing to look at and say, “You know, I think we should be able to consistently do this . . . "
MORE HARD TRUTHS
This should be a get-well week for the Patriots defense. After allowing 92 points and 1,200 yards in the last 10 quarters to the Colts, Chiefs and Bears, the Patriots could use four quarters of self-affirming performance.
The team is stacking wins but also has been stuck in the mud when it comes to putting together a complete performance.
Two weeks ago against the Chiefs, the Patriots were very good for most of the game but had back-breaking busts that turned into long touchdowns.
Last week against the Bears, they floundered when it came to staying disciplined in their pass rush lanes against Mitch Trubisky and the quarterback had acres of wide open space to run through.
The goal, said Devin McCourty, “Is being more consistent.”
“We talked about that as defense, just playing well at times then one mistake by one guy or a mistake by another guy and we give up a long drive for a touchdown or three points,” he explained. “It might look like, ‘Dang, this defense is really playing well the last three or four drives. This is good.’ And then it’s one bad drive and then another bad drive and then it’s, ‘OK, five good drives.’ Just being able to play a consistent 60-minute game. I think it’s probably the focus for every team, but I think that’s really showed up for us when we’ve been really good at times and then really bad at times. It’s not going to be a perfect game but I think when it’s not going as good, it can’t be as bad as it’s been.”
Defensively, the Patriots should be able to smother an old and recycled quarterback who won’t be able to rely on a banged-up core of running backs.
All game long.
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