The New England Patriots entered their Week 15 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts with a seven-game winning streak and one of the hottest teams in the NFL. However, the Colts did not seem fazed by that and defeated the Patriots 27-17 Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. As a result, the Patriots had their winning streak snapped, which dropped them to (9-5,) and they fell from the number one seed in the AFC to the second with the Kansas City Chiefs win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Colts, meanwhile, improved to (8-6), and this win puts them right in the middle of the AFC standings at the five spot.
Back to the game, the Colts could slow down the Patriots running game. Damien Harris was out, and Rhamondre Stevenson was held in check as he had ten rushes for only 36 yards. Mac Jones threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, both to Hunter Henry and two costly interceptions. New England also had eight penalties and gave up 226 yards rushing. Jonathan Taylor picked up 170 of those and closed out the game with a 67-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the ballgame.
The Patriots will have to regroup this weekend and face the Buffalo Bills (8-6) at Gillette Stadium. This game is significant for both teams as the Patriots currently lead the AFC East by one game, and they beat the Bills three weeks ago in Buffalo. A win here, and they sweep the season series and could clinch the division depending on the outcome of the Miami Dolphins game against the New Orleans Saints. With that said, let’s take a look at what the Patriots need to do to win on Sunday.
Contain Josh Allen
Mother Nature showed up in the first game, and the elements made it tough for both teams to pass. Even with his cannon for an arm, Allen had some issues with passing. He was 15 of 30 for 145 yards and one touchdown. He did handle the elements better than Jones, who only attempted three passes, and almost brought them back to win. The key to slowing him down is keeping him in the pocket and not letting him run. As good as he is at throwing the ball, he is even more dangerous when he runs. In the first game in Week 13, he only ran six times for 39 yards.
Even if the weather isn’t the best in Foxborough, it is unlikely to be anything like Buffalo. If that is the case, look for the Bills to throw the ball, despite Devin Singletary’s season-high 86 yards rushing last week against the Carolina Panthers. On the season, Allen has thrown for 3,734 yards and 31 touchdowns and has added another 555 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. This game, like the first, may come down to the very end. The Patriot’s defense stepped up and stopped Allen on a fourth-down play to conserve the win in that one.
Get The Running Game Going
Harris was out against the Colts, and the running game never got going. Stevenson rushed for only 36 yards, and the Patriots rushed for only 81 yards as a team. In the first game against the Bills, New England ran it 46 times for 222 yards. Buffalo knew the run was coming, and the Patriots were still successfully running the ball. But, of course, the weather had a lot to do with the play-calling.
I think in this game, they will rerun the ball. That, of course, depends on the availability of Harris and Stevenson. Harris has been limited at practice this week due to his hamstring injury. Stevenson missed practice Thursday due to an illness. I think both will play, but how much will be a big story. If they can’t go, look for Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor to carry the load.
I am sure Jones will attempt more than three passes in this game and attack the Bills secondary. Their secondary, without their best cornerback in Tre’Davious White, is still pretty good and will pose a challenge to the passing game. However, regardless of the status of Harris and Stevenson, the Patriots will run it first and then take shots downfield.
Everyone knows what happened in the first game three weeks ago between these teams. The Patriots only attempted three passes but rushed for 222 yards and got the win. After the game, many were complimenting Belichick and his game plan. In his press conference, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said, “let’s not give more credit than we need to give credit to Bill Belichick in this one.” McDermott later noted that he was focused more than his team and had 100% respect for Belichick.
This game was already going to be big, and this probably won’t be a big deal, but who knows. We know that the Patriots have owned the Bills since Belichick has been there. However, the Bills swept both games last season and ultimately won the AFC East. That included a 38-9 defeat of the Patriots in Foxborough. As a result, they were the preseason favorites to win the division again and reach the Super Bowl.
In the first game, Belichick made adjustments due to the weather. He decided not to pass and run the ball, even when he had the wind on his side. As a result, the Patriots won the game and took over the division lead. McDermott is a good head coach, but Belichick is considered one of the all-time great head coaches in any sport. He has a 35-7 record against the Bills since coming to Foxborough in 2000. Because of that, I give the Patriots the advantage in this game.
This game will be a lot different than the Week 13 matchup. The weather shouldn’t be a factor in this one which is good news to both teams. I think the Patriots will get Harris back this week, which is a massive boost to their running game. If that happens and they can keep Josh Allen from having a big game, they win this one.
Patriots 28 Bills 24
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