Patriots vs. Bills: Matchup of the Week

In the NFL, quarterback play is the top indicator of wins and success.  Because the Bills have not had a franchise QB over the course of the drought, we have heard head coaches obsess on other facets of the game that effect winning probability (such as field position and turnovers).  But the truth is, nothing impacts the game more than the quarterback.

Regardless of the team that is playing New England, the matchup of the week should always be _____________ defense vs. Tom Brady.  So without further ado, here is the Buffalo Defense vs. Tom Brady matchup of the week.

Buffalo Defense

The Buffalo Bills have only beaten Tom Brady 3 times, and in one of those games Brady did not play in the 2nd half.  The two real times that the Bills beat Brady were in 2003 (31-0 win) and in 2011 (34-31 win).  Here are Brady’s stat lines in both of those games:

2003: 14/28, 123 yds, 0 TD, 4 INT
2011: 30/45, 387 yds, 4 TD, 4 INT

The similarities are obvious.  In both wins, the Bills forced 4 interceptions and in both games, one of those interceptions were returned for a touchdown.

It has been a story of two seasons for the Bills’ defense this year.  Here are the stats during their epic 3 game losing streak, compared the defensive stats in the 8 other games.

rankings.JPG

These rankings speak for themselves.  Due to their lack of quality quarterback play, the Bills’ winning chances depend on how their defense plays.  Some of these rankings are just mind-boggling.  Over 8 games, how can a team go from allowing 77 rushing yards per game (ypg) to 213 ypg during a 3 week span?  How about the points per game?  In those three loses, the Bills allowed 30 more points per game.  Crazy stuff.

Which is the real Bills defense?  They have been great for 8 games and absolutely awful for 3 games.  So, 73% of the time the defense is playing good enough to win.  Looking across a 16 game season, that is pretty good.  Let’s hope that the Week 13 version of the Bills defense is the one that has been on display 8 other times this year.  If the defense plays like they did during the losing streak, Brady could drop 60 on them.  No joke.

For the Bills to win this game, they will have to force Brady into multiple turnovers (at least 2 or 3 interceptions), much like they did in 2003 and 2011.  A pick-6 might help, too.  A tall task to do against the G.O.A.T.

Tom Brady

Over his last 23 games, Tom Brady has thrown 54 TD’s compared to 5 INTs.  So, asking Tom Brady to throw 2, 3, or 4 interceptions in one game is pretty much statistically impossible.  In fact, the last time Brady had a multi-interception game in the regular season was Week 12…back in 2015.  This matchup is key to beating the Patriots, regardless of who their opponent is.  The truth is, in order to beat Brady you have to get lucky.  Consider the 2011 game, Drayton Florence picked off Brady after his pass deflected off of Dareus’s helmet.  The Bills will need those lucky bounces once again this week.

I am hoping that the Bills are able to play somewhat competitive on defense this week, and hope they can keep Brady and the Patriots under 40.  The defense lucking into some turnovers and Brady having another historically bad day (for him) is the only way that I can envision the Bills keeping this game close, not to mention winning this one.

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