Forget the gossip about clashes in this rivalry’s past. The only thing that will rely on Monday night football This is the opportunity to seize the n ° 1 place of the AFC East. Riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have the opportunity to reclaim a spot that has been theirs for much of the past 20-plus years. Bills Mafia would love nothing more than to see his side keep the division crown out of Foxborough and position themselves for a second straight first place finish.
Here are four things to watch for Monday night when Buffalo hosts New England:
1. Can Belichick’s defense contain Josh Allen? Allen’s first three clashes with New England ended in loss, with QB averaging a 48.4% completion rate. His improvement to an average of 70.4 in last season’s 2-0 sweep suggests he and the Bills offense are adjusting better to Belichick’s ploys. And, while it may be the case, don’t let success against a D who wasn’t what he currently is make you think that Allen doesn’t need to test his mettle against a trainer of all just yet. the temperature. Boasting a versatile full-back and a hard-hitting front led by sack aficionado Matt Judon, the Pats dominated their path to becoming the NFL’s best goal defense (15.8 PPG) and a real threat to the playoffs. Notably, they’ve only allowed more than 25 points twice, but a 0-2 record in those games speaks volumes about their importance to the club’s overall success. They’ll need to be at their collective best against a unit that averages almost twice as many points (29.6) as they surrendered.
2. Which CB will help Bills find their way without Tre? Losing a player who is at the top of a depth board is difficult for a team to explain. In Buffalo’s case, Tre’Davious White’s torn ACL created the need to fill such a void. With Taron Johnson entrenched in the slot, Dane Jackson or Cam Lewis will have to step up and hold the place in front of Levi Wallace. The pendulum appears to be spinning in Jackson’s direction after Sean McDermott gave him his vote of confidence last week. Luckily for Jackson, whose two career starts came last season as a rookie, the Pats are not deploying any top-10 receivers. But Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor will certainly occupy the corner of the sophomores and his cronies all night long. We will see how this secondary reacts in its first game without its leader.
3. Can Mac stay on the attack if Pats falls behind? His approach may be different from that of last year’s offensive rookie of the year, but Mac Jones has done a lot to position himself as the next contender for that mantle. Jones has been efficient all season, but has shown better decision making during the winning streak; he’s thrown nine touchdowns and just two picks in that span, compared to seven touchdowns and six picks in the first six games. Playing for a team with formidable defense has helped Jones settle in well, but it will be interesting to see if offense can take over if the D has a slack night. It should be noted that five of Jones’ eight INTs arrived late in a game, according to NFL Research. With ballhawks Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde hidden in the blanket and a promising pass rush building up pressure, Jones must find ways to keep his balance. It might not look like it against the Colts or the Dolphins, but let’s not forget the Bills have the league No. 2 score defense, after all.
4. Will Diggs dominate again? The clash between Stefon Diggs and JC Jackson is making headlines in what is sure to be an interesting chess match between Belichick and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Diggs is the alpha dog of a receiving corps that ranks seventh in the YPG. Jackson, meanwhile, is the centerpiece of a unit that boasts 19 combined picks, the most in the NFL. Jackson, who knocked out Allen more than any defenseman (four), expressed enthusiasm for Diggs’ mission, though fans may not be as excited given that Diggs torched Jackson and the Pats for totaled 237 yards in two games last year and had three touchdowns. in week 16 last season. The gravity of the All-Pro could provide more opportunities for Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders and red zone ace Dawson Knox. The standout tight end (and his seven TD receptions) may be the X-factor that benefits everyone eyeing Diggs the most.