ROUND 1: Patriots shuffle off to Buffalo

SteveF

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That 2M (man-to-man with two safeties?) sticks out like a sore thumb, I'm guessing Allen got chunks of rushing yards against those coverages?
Also wondering if there are confounding effects where more competent defenses are more likely to employ cover-1, since against the NFL baseline it seems to be more effective.
Yeah. 2-man doesn't work against mobile quarterbacks for the reason you point out.

The other confounding factor (aside from good defenses playing more man coverage) is probably down and distance. You can play with the sliders on the site cited in the images if you want. I'd suggest something like 3rd and 4+ (3rd and 8+ also looks like a good break point) -- some obvious passing down maybe. You'll see the coverages used change in relative frequency.

You can also isolate by week and see exactly what coverages and how (un)successful they were in the Buf-NE game from a few weeks ago.

Here is the link so you don't need to type it.
 
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BaseballJones

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Against playoff opponents...

New England
vs TB
- Points: TB 19, NE 17
- Yards: TB 381, NE 294
vs Dal
- Points: Dal 35, NE 29
- Yards: Dal 567, NE 335
vs Ten
- Points: Ten 13, NE 36
- Yards: Ten 355, NE 394
at Buf
- Points: Buf 10, NE 14
- Yards: Buf 230, NE 241
vs Buf
- Points: Buf 33, NE 21
- Yards: Buf 428, NE 288
TOTAL
- Points: Opp 110 (22.0 avg), NE 117 (23.4 avg)
- Yards: Opp 1961 (392.2 avg), NE 1552 (310.4 avg)

Buffalo
vs Pit
- Points: Pit 23, Buf 16
- Yards: Pit 216, Buf 314
at KC
- Points: KC 20, Buf 38
- Yards: KC 392, Buf 436
at Ten
- Points: Ten 34, Buf 31
- Yards: Ten 362, Buf 417
vs NE
- Points: NE 14, Buf 10
- Yards: NE 241, Buf 230
at TB
- Points: TB 33, Buf 27
- Yards: TB 488, Buf 466
at NE
- Points: NE 21, Buf 33
- Yards: NE 288, Buf 428
TOTAL
- Points: Opp 145 (24.2 avg), Buf 155 (25.8 avg)
- Yards: Opp 1987 (331.2 avg), Buf 2291 (381.8 avg)

So:
- NE: 2-3, +1.4 points per game, -81.8 yards per game
- Buf: 2-4, +1.6 points per game, +50.6 yards per game
 

8slim

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I know this isnt scientific, but it's almost mathematically impossible for the Bills offense to play as well as they did last time the teams played. What's the chance the Bills can go two games against the Patriots and not punt once?
Sadly, I don’t put it past our D to get lit up like that again. I’m pretty down on them.
 

ShaneTrot

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Sadly, I don’t put it past our D to get lit up like that again. I’m pretty down on them.
Lazar said they had a decent amount of pressure in the second Buffalo game, it sure didn't seem like it. The pass rush has been pedestrian the last month or so. You get off the field by having good run fits (discipline and toughness), covering the receivers, and disrupting the passer. Curran said in his podcast said that the Pats were mentally weak. I wouldn't go that far. I like this defense and the metrics say they are good. They just seem so slow and deliberate. Especially without Dugger.
 

moretsyndrome

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Cellar-Door

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Lazar said they had a decent amount of pressure in the second Buffalo game, it sure didn't seem like it. The pass rush has been pedestrian the last month or so. You get off the field by having good run fits (discipline and toughness), covering the receivers, and disrupting the passer. Curran said in his podcast said that the Pats were mentally weak. I wouldn't go that far. I like this defense and the metrics say they are good. They just seem so slow and deliberate. Especially without Dugger.
I think we had some pressure in the 2nd BUF game, but some of it was not good vs a mobile QB, was the type that is "pressure" but the QB can see it and can easily run for a gain.
 

Carmine Hose

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A couple of thoughts:

* If the Pats win the toss they may elect to take the ball first (or conversely if Buffalo wins, I assume they defer to the second half). The benefit is that the team that defends first in the second half chooses the field direction and can line up the wind for the 4th quarter.

* The Pats need to stop easing their way into games. Far too often they give up big long drives on the first drive on defense. They need to be ready to play from the jump, which seems few and far between against better competition.

Week 18 - Start on D, give up 13 plays, 77 yards 7:26 TD. Get ball and throw pick 6 on 3rd play, then 5 plays 18 yards
Week 16 (Bills) - Start on O, 3 plays, -6 yards 1:26 Punt. First D opportunity, Bills go 13 plays, 61 yards, 6:57 TD
Week 15 - D actually forces a 3 and out first drive, but then go 7 plays for 10 yards in 5:02 before a punt. D comes back and gives up 8 plays, 78 yards 4:58 and a TD

* Maybe anecdotal but special teams seems to be really hurting this team compared to prior units being a strength. Unreal amount of punt and kick blocks. Not the best coverage. They should never return a kickoff that can be a touchback. And zero return TDs this year (only 3 in the past 5 combined seasons). Bailey looked to be battling something , but I trust that his directional kicking should be a plus and his stats seem OK (49 punts, 3 blocked, 6 touchbacks, 13 fair catches, 11 out of bounds, 16 returned for an 8.6 average).

* The Tre White injury should be hampering the Bills worse, but we don't have the receiver types to make that much of a problem. Maybe that should be a Agholor back for his second week post-concussion.

* No N'Kheal Harry punt returns. Or much else besides edge run blocking for that matter.
 

Euclis20

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A couple of thoughts:


* Maybe anecdotal but special teams seems to be really hurting this team compared to prior units being a strength. Unreal amount of punt and kick blocks. Not the best coverage. They should never return a kickoff that can be a touchback. And zero return TDs this year (only 3 in the past 5 combined seasons). Bailey looked to be battling something , but I trust that his directional kicking should be a plus and his stats seem OK (49 punts, 3 blocked, 6 touchbacks, 13 fair catches, 11 out of bounds, 16 returned for an 8.6 average).
Not just anecdotal. I posted this in the goat thread, the Pats are going to finish in the bottom half of the league in ST DVOA for the first time since 1993. Not an outright disaster (and it says something that this team has been above average to great for 30 years), but for the first time in recent history our special teams for sure isn't a strength.
 

88 MVP

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* No N'Kheal Harry punt returns. Or much else besides edge run blocking for that matter.
Does anyone know how to find the run/pass breakdown for a given player’s snaps? Just anecdotally, when I see Harry on the field now (especially when he is put in motion) I’m watching for him to run block. I wonder if his presence on the field provides the defense with an easy tell.

I recall a couple years ago there were some pretty glaring splits with James White and Sony where White was usually in to pass block or run routes and Sony was in to run.
 

SMU_Sox

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PFF edge or elite has it @88 MVP

Overall Harry has played 323 snaps and was a run blocker on 172 of them or 53% of them.
 

BaseballJones

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The difference between the two teams in some ways seems minimal:

Scoring Offense: Buf #3, NE #6
Yardage Offense: Buf #5, NE #15
DVOA Offense: Buf #10, NE #9

Scoring Defense: Buf #1, NE #2
Yardage Defense: Buf #1, NE #4
DVOA Defense: Buf #1, NE #4

Point differential: Buf #1, NE #3
Yardage differential: Buf #1, NE #6
Turnover margin: Buf #7, NE #8
Overall record: Buf 11-6, NE 10-7
Head-to-Head: Buf 1-1, NE 1-1
vs. Playoff Teams: Buf 2-4, NE 2-3

Yet despite how close this is, it's clear that Buffalo is better. In some categories just by a hair, and in other categories by a not insignificant margin. And at the end of the day, they appear to have a lot more talent. Though who knows.

I think that Buffalo can win even if they don't play their best game. They have more margin for error in this game. The Patriots clearly can win, especially if they run the ball effectively and control the clock. But they have to play mistake-free. I don't mean that LITERALLY, as they can win with a few bad penalties and such. But they can't throw pick sixes. They can't have punts blocked. They can't drop easy interceptions. They can't fumble near the Buffalo goal line. They can't blow coverages.

To me, the range in this game is anywhere from a New England win by 7 or less, all the way to a Buffalo win by 21. The Pats can't likely blow out Buffalo, but Buffalo could possibly blow out New England. At the end of the day, I think it's a one score game late into the fourth quarter, with the outcome up in the air. It might be that the Pats are down by a few and need a stop but Buffalo scores to make it a 10-point game in the last minute or so, but that final margin wouldn't be indicative of how close the game was.

I give the likelihood of a Buffalo win about 60%, and NE about 40%. Not terrible odds. Certainly a puncher's chance in this one.
 

SMU_Sox

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Spread is -4.5 to -4 in most books. Football Outsiders says the spread should be -0.9 for Buffalo and PFF has their line at -3.2 for Buffalo. Let's convert those to winning % for the Bills:

-4.5: 67.3%
-4: 65.8%
-3.2: ~62%
-0.9: ~51%

So depending on the sportsbook or the projected line the Bills have a 51%-67.3% chance of winning.
 

radsoxfan

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The difference between the two teams in some ways seems minimal:

I give the likelihood of a Buffalo win about 60%, and NE about 40%. Not terrible odds. Certainly a puncher's chance in this one.
60/40 feels about right in a neutral field in September to me.

Saturday night in January in Buffalo I’d put it closer to 70/30 Bills.

I do agree with the overall premise, Pats are a fairly close matchup here and should have a decent shot to win. Just need a couple breaks to go our way.
 

Gash Prex

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I feel far better about this matchup then the Pats game at home - mostly because Mac has seen the defense and knows what to expect. By the end of the Bills game the Pats were moving the ball with a lot more confidence.
 

NortheasternPJ

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60/40 feels about right in a neutral field in September to me.

Saturday night in January in Buffalo I’d put it closer to 70/30 Bills.

I do agree with the overall premise, Pats are a fairly close matchup here and should have a decent shot to win. Just need a couple breaks to go our way.
Why does this favor the Bills? It's going to be like 6 degrees with a negative wind chill. Josh Allen throwing rockets with a frozen football vs the Pats hopefully being able to run it and Mac's more touch passes is a solid scenario. I'm not saying the Pats will win, but I don't think frozen temperatures help the Bills at all. I know Mac in cold weather is lacking data and may not be good but Josh Allen isn't exactly a cold weather Qb either.

Just DuckDuckGo'd it and seems correct:

https://sports.yahoo.com/josh-allens-cold-weather-stats-192933335.html

The talented QB boasted a 63.3% completion rate this season while averaging 259.2 passing yards per game. But in cold-weather games, those numbers drop to a 50.3% completion rate and just 166.6 yards per game with six touchdown passes to seven interceptions in five games.
 

Ralphwiggum

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There is a large segment of Bills fans who want to build a dome because they don't think Allen plays well in the elements. I haven't watched enough of the Bills to have my own opinion on this, but would imagine that means he's had some rough games in bad weather. Number seem to back that up.
 

rodderick

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There is a large segment of Bills fans who want to build a dome because they don't think Allen plays well in the elements. I haven't watched enough of the Bills to have my own opinion on this, but would imagine that means he's had some rough games in bad weather. Number seem to back that up.
It's so strange because if you look at physical tools he seems to be the prototypical bad weather QB, but you're right he doesn't perform well in the elements.
 

StupendousMan

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You need to compare Allen's numbers in the cold vs. other QBs' numbers in the cold. I suspect everyone's performance suffers.
 

SMU_Sox

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I don’t think you can or should draw conclusions about Josh Allen’s cold weather ability in a five game sample size.
 

radsoxfan

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Why does this favor the Bills? It's going to be like 6 degrees with a negative wind chill. Josh Allen throwing rockets with a frozen football vs the Pats hopefully being able to run it and Mac's more touch passes is a solid scenario. I'm not saying the Pats will win, but I don't think frozen temperatures help the Bills at all. I know Mac in cold weather is lacking data and may not be good but Josh Allen isn't exactly a cold weather Qb either.

Just DuckDuckGo'd it and seems correct:

https://sports.yahoo.com/josh-allens-cold-weather-stats-192933335.html

The talented QB boasted a 63.3% completion rate this season while averaging 259.2 passing yards per game. But in cold-weather games, those numbers drop to a 50.3% completion rate and just 166.6 yards per game with six touchdown passes to seven interceptions in five games.
You don’t think a home night playoff game against a rookie QB is going to change the odds at all from a neutral site?

Of course it depends how cold and how bad the weather is. If we get a drastically altered game plan like the first game in Buffalo due to the elements then all bets are off.

But rookie QB on the road in his first playoff game against a good defense has to be at least some extra edge to Buffalo I think. I don’t have any particular reason to think Mac will deal with the elements better than Allen.

I think the Pats have a legit chance and Mac could have a great game but I see this overall as moderate edge Buffalo. Slight edge in talent and another slight edge for home field/experience.

3 out of 10 shot ain’t bad for a road playoff team to win outright.
 

NortheasternPJ

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You don’t think a home night playoff game against a rookie QB is going to change the odds at all from a neutral site?

Of course it depends how cold and how bad the weather is. If we get a drastically altered game plan like the first game in Buffalo due to the elements then all bets are off.

But rookie QB on the road in his first playoff game against a good defense has to be at least some extra edge to Buffalo I think. I don’t have any particular reason to think Mac will deal with the elements better than Allen.

I think the Pats have a legit chance and Mac could have a great game but I see this overall as moderate edge Buffalo. Slight edge in talent and another slight edge for home field/experience.

3 out of 10 shot ain’t bad for a road playoff team to win outright.
I don’t disagree that a home playoff game is a big benefit especially against a rookie, I do disagree that extreme cold moves this in the Bills favor even more. At best I see it as neutral for the Bills to a slight advantage to the Pats.
 

rodderick

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i hope u guys win because billis mafia is a littie annoying
I'm with you, j-man. As someone who experiences NFL fandom solely through the internet, the level of cockiness of Bills fans on Twitter and Reddit has really surprised me. I have no clue why they seem to be under the impression their team is a juggernaut, but I guess we'll see soon enough.
 

Silverdude2167

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I'm with you, j-man. As someone who experiences NFL fandom solely through the internet, the level of cockiness of Bills fans on Twitter and Reddit has really surprised me. I have no clue why they seem to be under the impression their team is a juggernaut, but I guess we'll see soon enough.
It is really weird.

The amount of tweets I ran across making fun of the Pats for needing the Jets to win last week to win the Division was weird. Normally you don't boast and act superior when your team has the same record as a rival (this is before the loss to Mia).
 

Harry Hooper

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The good fortune enjoyed by the Bills (e.g., having calls on them revoked and counter-calls made on the opponent) suggests things will work out for them and this is their year.
 
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SMU_Sox

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If anything that stat suggests they've been unlucky and their W/L doesn't reflect their performance and talent level.
They did underachieve. #2 in DVOA and a 13.3 win Pythag. PFF green line has them at #4 and +5.6 points. They were better than their record this year imo. Their variance is what cost them. By DVOA they had the highest variance in the league at 31.3%. That’s crazy high. You have to go back to 2013 and Philadelphia to find a team with a higher variance, 31.6%. So the Bills have had the second highest variance in football over the last 9 years.
 

BaseballJones

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Pete Prisco of cbssports.com makes his prediction on the game:

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/priscos-nfl-picks-for-wild-card-round-bills-handle-patriots-in-afc-east-rubber-match-49ers-upset-cowboys/

This is the third game featuring these two this season, with each winning on the other's field. New England won the first meeting in a wind storm in early December, while the Bills dominated the Pats at their place in late December. The weather is expected to be cold, but not that windy. That means Josh Allen can have success throwing the football. The Patriots haven't been the same team on the road, especially quarterback Mac Jones. Look for the Bills to take away the run and dare him to beat them. He won't. The Bills will be moving on.

Pick: Bills 30, Patriots 17


The bolded....

Patriots home vs. road.

Record
- Home: 4-5 (.444)
- Road: 6-2 (.750)

Points scored (avg)
- Home: 31.2
- Road: 22.6

Points allowed (avg)
- Home: 19.4
- Road: 16.0

The home points scored average is skewed by three monster performances (NYJ, Cle, Jax). They count, and that's fine. But to say they haven't been the same team on the road...is kind of silly. MAC hasn't, and I've posted his home/road splits elsewhere. But as a team? Allowing 3.4 fewer points per game on the road, plus a significantly better record away than at home this year.
 

Cellar-Door

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Pete Prisco of cbssports.com makes his prediction on the game:

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/priscos-nfl-picks-for-wild-card-round-bills-handle-patriots-in-afc-east-rubber-match-49ers-upset-cowboys/

This is the third game featuring these two this season, with each winning on the other's field. New England won the first meeting in a wind storm in early December, while the Bills dominated the Pats at their place in late December. The weather is expected to be cold, but not that windy. That means Josh Allen can have success throwing the football. The Patriots haven't been the same team on the road, especially quarterback Mac Jones. Look for the Bills to take away the run and dare him to beat them. He won't. The Bills will be moving on.


The home points scored average is skewed by three monster performances (NYJ, Cle, Jax). They count, and that's fine. But to say they haven't been the same team on the road...is kind of silly. MAC hasn't, and I've posted his home/road splits elsewhere. But as a team? Allowing 3.4 fewer points per game on the road, plus a significantly better record away than at home this year.
Looking at it, I think some of the home/road stuff is schedule.
So 3 road games were in division:
BUF- played "better" on the road probably in that they won a tight weird weather game and got handled at home
MIA- played "better" at home in the opener I'd say than this last week
NYJ- played better at home.

Now for the other games:
Home: TB,NO, DAL, CLE, TEN, JAX- played 3 playoff teams, 1 win 2 close losses, split with the 2 near playoff teams, beat the worst team
Road: IND, LAC, ATL, CAR, HOU- no playoff teams, split against the near playoff teams, and played 3 of the worst teams in the league.

I'd argue we gave up less points on the road because we played much worse teams on the road.
 

BaseballJones

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Sure, maybe. But when you say this team hasn't been the same team on the road as they were at home...I mean, MOST teams play worse on the road than at home.

GB: 8-0 home, 5-4 road
TB: 7-1 home, 6-3 road
Ten: 7-2 home, 5-3 road
KC: 7-2 home, 5-3 road
NE: 4-5 home, 6-2 road

It's hard to say the Pats "haven't been the same team on the road as they were at home" when they have a much better record on the road than at home. Usually you say that when they're like...I don't know...Green Bay, dominant at home, a little over .500 on the road. Just seemed like an odd thing to say about a team that's under .500 at home and .750 on the road this year.
 

Jimbodandy

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Prisco is an idiot, has been for decades. I can't believe he's gainfully employed to talk about football. What a country!
Yeah. It's honestly great news that he's picking the Bills big. Guy is like the anti Midas.

He used to write about the Pats fans flooding his email over his stupid picks, so he has a sense of humor about it at least.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Having Dugger and Mills unavailable on Saturday would be....suboptimal. Even if Barmore is back.
In Dugger's case, I have to think a hand injury is likely one that you can put some kind of soft cast or wrap on and play through if absolutely necessary. He might not be as effective but I'd be a little shocked if that kept him out of a playoff game.
 

dynomite

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I hope we can infer from this that Barmore was present. And I really hope Duggar is just getting one more precautionary day.
Confirmed per the Herald: Patriots down 3 players at practice, Barmore appears (note the paywall)

Edited to agree with this -- I'm a little surprised Dugger wasn't at practice today even in a limited role with a wrap given that he was listed as "limited" had the Patriots practiced yesterday (posting that below MMS's post). Hopefully doesn't indicate a setback.

In Dugger's case, I have to think a hand injury is likely one that you can put some kind of soft cast or wrap on and play through if absolutely necessary. He might not be as effective but I'd be a little shocked if that kept him out of a playoff game.
 
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