Patriots

It's been an up-and-down ride for the Bills

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It's been an up-and-down ride for the Bills

THE BUFFALO BILLS
Record: 6-5
Last week: 16-10 win over Chiefs
Previous three: 0-3 (Saints, Chargers, Chiefs by a combined 136-55)
2016 record: 7-9
Coach: Sean McDermott
Offensive coordinator: Rick Dennison
Defensive coordinator: Leslie Frazier
 


THE BASICS
The Bills are on a bizarre ride. They were 5-2 at one point then – after consecutive losses – they yanked starter Tyrod Taylor and replaced him with rookie Nathan Peterman. Peterman threw five picks in the first half of a loss against the Chargers and the season appeared to have gone belly-up. But behind Taylor last week, the Bills won 16-10 at Kansas City (another team on a bizarre ride). The Bills are tied with the Ravens and Chiefs at 6-5 in the race for the sixth AFC playoff spot.


 


WHAT'S GOOD
First off, Buffalo is always a tough place to play. They are 4-1 this season and the atmosphere there is one of the first things Devin McCourty mentioned on Quick Slants Tuesday night. It’s a big factor. Additionally, they are pretty well-balanced. “There's not a lot of opportunities there when you look on the film like 'Oh, this looks good. That looks good,' “ Bill Belichick explained on Wednesday. “You're going to have to earn everything you get from this team. They play very competitively. They have a lot of tough football players, guys that play hard, that work hard, that are physical, that do a good job of controlling their area, if you will, and then some great athletic space players, obviously, like [LeSean] McCoy, like [Brandon] Tate, like [Tyrod] Taylor, guys like that, [Jerry] Hughes, in their respective areas that are really hard to deal with, hard to handle.” The Patriots haven’t seen a quarterback with Taylor’s mobility and downfield accuracy since their back-to-back games with Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson in Weeks 3 and 4. Defensively, the Bills are giving up 240 yards per game in the air and are 31st in the NFL in sack percentage. Six of their 17 sacks this season came in one game. The three-game stretch of losses messed up all their stats on defense but – aside from those where they allowed 638 yards rushing (!!!!), they allowed just 616 in their other six games.
 


 
WHAT'S NOT
They just haven’t been a terribly consistent team. The Bills have yet to top 300 yards passing. The closest they came was 285 and they let up seven sacks in that one against the Jets. Offensively, they are averaging 20.4 points per game. That’s not near enough to get it done against New England on a regular basis and that’s probably part of the reason Buffalo tried to make a switch at quarterback – to get more explosive scoring. They did – 54 for the Chargers – but that was not what they were looking for. LeSean McCoy looks like he’s beginning the slow fade from game-changer to ordinary back. He carried 22 times for 49 yards against KC last week. They can’t throw the ball outside on a regular basis. McCoy is the leading receiver with 46 catches for 295 yards and tight end Charles Clay is second with just 29 catches. Jordan Matthews has been a non-factor in the passing game for them and Kelvin Benjamin’s been hurt.

HISTORY
The Bills’ futility against the Patriots since Bill Belichick arrived has been staggering. They’ve played 34 times. Buffalo has won four (November 2000, September 2003, September 2011 and December 2014). Think about that...Belichick’s coached more than two full regular seasons worth of games against this team while he’s been the Patriots coach.

Where does Patriots' Sony Michel rank among NFL RB1s entering 2019?

Where does Patriots' Sony Michel rank among NFL RB1s entering 2019?

Sony Michel enjoyed a tremendous rookie season for the New England Patriots and played a pivotal role in the team's run to a sixth Super Bowl championship.

The 24-year-old running back ran for 931 yards and six touchdowns in 13 regular season games, but his real value, however, was shown in the playoffs. Michel tallied 336 yards and a rookie postseason record six touchdowns in three games, culminating with 94 yards and the Patriots' only touchdown in their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

After a stellar first season as a pro, where does Michel rank among the league's RB1s entering the 2019 season? Former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranked Michel at No. 11 in his rankings on NFL.com. Here's what MJD had to say about the Georgia product:

Michel showed he can be a bell cow during the postseason, with 71 carries for 336 yards and a rookie-record six rushing TDs in three games. He underwent a minor knee procedure in June, but Michel should still be the effective rusher he was in the postseason starting in September. Plus, I think Patriots OC Josh McDaniels will be more creative with the running game now that Rob Gronkowski is no longer on the team.

Jones-Drew put New York Giants rookie sensation Saquon Barkley atop his rankings, with Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, Le'Veon Bell of the New York Jets, Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers rounding out the top five, in that order.

The Patriots offense was carried by its ground game in the last season's playoffs, and we could see more of the same this coming season after New England selected talented Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Pats now have Michel, Harris, Rex Burkhead and James White leading a really impressive group of running backs that should make the team's offense a well-balanced unit next season.

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NFL odds: Three quarterbacks favored over Tom Brady for 2019 MVP

NFL odds: Three quarterbacks favored over Tom Brady for 2019 MVP

Tom Brady opens as one of the favorites to win the 2019 NFL MVP award, but Vegas has three quarterbacks favored over the Patriots QB.

Chiefs quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes unsurprisingly is listed as the favorite heading into the new season at +350. Also ahead of Brady are Eagles QB Carson Wentz (+550) and Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck (+600).

Brady is tied with Chargers QB Philip Rivers at +700 and followed by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who opens at +800.

(Odds via Caesars Palace)

Considering the uncertainty at the wide receiver position for the Patriots, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Brady isn't favored to be 2019's MVP. But at +700, there's certainly plenty of value there if you're looking to put some money down before the season.

Brady has won the NFL MVP award three times before in his illustrious career (2007, 2010, 2017).

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