ROUND 1: Patriots shuffle off to Buffalo

Harry Hooper

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If only the Pats had something close now to the defense for that Titans playoff game.
 

BusRaker

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But what happens when you combine a comedy of errors and viagra?
Beavis and Butthead?

Did you see in the comments at the end of the article the one from Sean McDermott? "Let's not give more credit than we need to give credit to Bill Belichick in this one"

I'm a little more optimistic about this game. After Josh hits the frozen turf hard on a few first quarter designed runs (thanks Dugger!) he's going to turn into bad Josh.
 

rodderick

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2003 Pats were second in defensive DVOA. This year’s team is 4th. Not that far off.
I spent about 15 minutes looking for anything that showed how despite being similar by DVOA the 2003 Patriots defense was actually significantly better/more consistent/less reliant on luck than this year's unit and I couldn't really find it. They actually are pretty comparable (taking into account the scoring environments, of course).
 

tims4wins

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I spent about 15 minutes looking for anything that showed how despite being similar by DVOA the 2003 Patriots defense was actually significantly better/more consistent/less reliant on luck than this year's unit and I couldn't really find it. They actually are pretty comparable (taking into account the scoring environments, of course).
2003 played much better opponents, at least to the eye test. But it’s entirely possible the stats don’t tell that story.
 

Nator

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2003 played much better opponents, at least to the eye test. But it’s entirely possible the stats don’t tell that story.
2003 played an incredibly challenging schedule. They pitched 3 shut-outs, and went 4-0 against the league MVP's that season (Manning and McNair split the award, and were each beaten in the regular and post-season), and they were the most physical team in football. I like this year's team, but they aren't even close to the 2003 team.

I hate to say, "They need to score early and play with a lead", because duh. No-one ever says, "I hope to fall behind early to create a sense of urgency to focus and play better." But I bet that this game sees nearly all of its scoring happening in the 1st half. When there is 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter everyone will want to just be done, but the trailing team even more so. So maximizing scoring opportunities will be key. Gotta get touchdowns instead of field goals.
 
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SMU_Sox

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@SMU_Sox and others - The Bills and Colts went wirh a plan (inside leverage , 2 deep) to try to test Mac's arm. Is there anything scheme wise that we may see to counter that?
Honestly if you want to beat that you need to win on the outside. The way they are cracking down on their underneath stuff so I think their best options involve being patient because many of the ways to attack 2 man coverage are on longer routes. Could be wrong on strategy.
 

rodderick

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2003 played an incredibly challenging schedule. They pitched 3 shut-outs, and went 4-0 against the league MVP's that season (Manning and McNair split the award, and were each beaten in the regular and post-season), and they were the most physical team in football. I like this year's team, but they aren't even close to the 2003 team.

I hate to say, "They need to score early and play with a lead", because duh. No-one ever says, "I hope to fall behind early to create a sense of urgency to focus and play better." But I bet that this game sees nearly all of its scoring happening in the 1st half. When there is 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter everyone will want to just be done, but the trailing team even more so. So maximizing scoring opportunities will be key. Gotta get touchdowns instead of field goals.
They played a harder schedule than this year's version, but still good for only the 16th hardest schedule of offenses in the league, as opposed to this year's 29th. Still that's already baked into DVOA, so it's kinda redundant.
 

tims4wins

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They played a harder schedule than this year's version, but still good for only the 16th hardest schedule of offenses in the league, as opposed to this year's 29th. Still that's already baked into DVOA, so it's kinda redundant.
The evidence feels more anecdotal to me, and includes the playoffs. Like, they gave up 30 points to the Titans and 34 to Indy in the regular season, then held both to 14 apiece in the playoffs, so that colors our memory.

One difference though is the D flat out won at least 4 games by themselves that year: 12-0 vs. Miami (including a safety and a pick-6); 12-0 vs. Dallas; 17-6 vs the Giants (including a fumble return TD); and 9-3 vs. the Browns.
 

Gash Prex

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Honestly if you want to beat that you need to win on the outside. The way they are cracking down on their underneath stuff so I think their best options involve being patient because many of the ways to attack 2 man coverage are on longer routes. Could be wrong on strategy.
Slightly different coverage, but you can see from Lazar's breakdown against Miami that Josh et al dialed up some plays and Mac had no issues throwing downfield. My concern is whether the pats hold up on the offensive line long enough to allow those plays to develop.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J0aAILCfJI&feature=youtu.be


The strategy of "man coverage with inside leverage to force the QB to fit it into tight windows downfield" is not some Mac specific defense - its what most defenses would love to do against almost any QB if they have the personal to do it. The Bills typically play zone so they may caught the pats initially with the wrong game plan.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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Honestly if you want to beat that you need to win on the outside. The way they are cracking down on their underneath stuff so I think their best options involve being patient because many of the ways to attack 2 man coverage are on longer routes. Could be wrong on strategy.
Thanks. I was thinking along the same lines... threaten the seams to keep the Safetys honest,. Then, if you miss on the outs, make sure it is to the sideline.
 

SMU_Sox

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@Gash Prex I think it is the right strategy against the Patriots because they have struggled beating man coverage now for 3 years counting. If you have the corners to do it that's the way to go. Its more that the Patriots don't have receivers who separate well and consistently vs it against better teams vs like Mac has trouble throwing against man.

Real quick - for clarification what do you mean the first time? Like game 1 where they only threw it 3 times or game 2? I am assuming you meant game 2.
 
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SMU_Sox

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The other thing that you might have heard on some pods is that Mac is playing too fast at times. Let me give you an example of that because I am seeing that too but also offer up some hope on it. Against the Dolphins the tight end, Jonnu, ran a corner route and was wide open with tons of separation but Mac didn't wait for it to open up. He got it off to someone on a checkdown for a minimal gain. Later on in the game they ran the same play and same route patterns and he hit Hunter Henry for a huge chunk gain. A lot of times against 2M or any 2 high concept you want to hit the honey hole. You need time in the pocket but also patience as a passer for that to develop. If they are giving you that shot and you have time you have to wait and take it. It's like JTO said pre-draft - just because you can play fast doesn't mean that you should or that getting rid of the ball quickly is always the right move. Can he play more patiently coming out of the gate? My minor concern with him is what will his intermediate to deeper balls look like in the frigid cold? I will be curious to see how he handles that.

I don't think the Bills have any reason to change what they did against the Pats last time defensively. Let's see how that plays out in round 3.

I think the reason this game is -4 to -4.5 is because it is unlikely Allen goes super-nova again on them. I sure as hell hope not.
 

ShaneTrot

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Jones has had slow starts in the last three losses but he has brought the team back in those games. If they can just play a good first quarter in all three phases, I like their chances. Everyone is acting like this Bills team is a juggernaut. They lost to Jacksonville for crying out loud.
 

SMU_Sox

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Jones has had slow starts in the last three losses but he has brought the team back in those games. If they can just play a good first quarter in all three phases, I like their chances. Everyone is acting like this Bills team is a juggernaut. They lost to Jacksonville for crying out loud.
True - they aren't a juggernaut but I am not sure what saying they lost to Jacksonville tells me other than they are a team that has a lot of game to game variance. They lead the NFL with +194 net points. They scored the 3rd most points and allowed the fewest. I mentioned upthread that the Bills have had the highest variance in their game to game play by DVOA since 2013. If they get the bad Bills then yeah they could even win by multiple scores and that's why the spread is -4 to -4.5 in most places. This isn't a slam dunk for the Bills.


These injuries are adding up. Pats are down Wynn and could lose Mills and/or Dugger. Who is playing outside corner aside from JCJ? JJW? Bethel? Who is their slot corner this time around? Is it Ross? That's scraping the bottom of the barrel in the secondary.

I am not sure if they scratch Harry or not but I think this game needs more than 1 outside receiver who can actually catch the ball so Wilkerson might get some use on Saturday.
 

Dr. Gonzo

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Practice squad elevations:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced that they have elevated CB De'Vante Bausby, DL Daniel Ekuale , DB D'Angelo Ross and WR Kristian Wilkerson to the active roster from the practice squad.
Trying to infer from here, does that mean no Harry, Mills, and Barmore?
 

Eddie Jurak

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Ekuale has beem activated a few times now, so I don't think it says anything about Barmore.

Ross and Bausby (who?) suggests that Dugger might be out.
 
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Dugger was out last week replaced by Ross. That Ross is up again, joined by another DB, suggests that both Dugger and Mills will be out.
This would be a real bummer on Dugger. Seems like the guy that helps them disrupt the crossing routes. Feels more and more like a game where a lot of things will have to break the Pats’ way.
 

Harry Hooper

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Ekuale has beem activated a few times now, so I don't think it says anything about Barmore.

Bedard after reviewing the second Pats-Bills game wants Godchaux shelved in favor of Ekuale:

Godchaux should, really, be benched for good. He occasionally makes a play, but I can provide 10 more examples where he's rushing up the field or out of his gap leading to easy plays by the opponent.
BSJ
 

Dan Murfman

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My friend the Bills fan bought tickets for him and his son for the game. They’re 15 rows off the field and paid $300. As they were getting ready for the 8 hour drive his son checks the tickets and realizes they are for the divisional round. So he has to buy a new set of tickets and basically got same tickets but for half the price. I told him not to worry that when the Pats win tonight he will get a refund.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Thanks. I was thinking along the same lines... threaten the seams to keep the Safetys honest,. Then, if you miss on the outs, make sure it is to the sideline.
I wonder if the other concept you’d use is to try to take advantage of the short-outside area. That can be swing passes to RBs, flanker screens, etc. Not huge gainers but something to use on 3rd and 5 type situations
 

axx

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My friend the Bills fan bought tickets for him and his son for the game. They’re 15 rows off the field and paid $300. As they were getting ready for the 8 hour drive his son checks the tickets and realizes they are for the divisional round. So he has to buy a new set of tickets and basically got same tickets but for half the price. I told him not to worry that when the Pats win tonight he will get a refund.
The NFL really needs to take into consideration weather when scheduling these games. Also the Bills are very likely to be on the road for the divisional round even if they win. A Bills victory means they are going to KC while the winner of Vegas-Cincy goes to Tennessee.
 

Saints Rest

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I wonder if the other concept you’d use is to try to take advantage of the short-outside area. That can be swing passes to RBs, flanker screens, etc. Not huge gainers but something to use on 3rd and 5 type situations
I feel like the last few years, opponents know that the Pats love those plays and as such they are very ineffective now. It seems like there’s an ebony bee of those passes behind the line of scrimmage, be they to WRs, TEs, or RBs, that end up as 2 yard losses.
 

Dan Murfman

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The NFL really needs to take into consideration weather when scheduling these games. Also the Bills are very likely to be on the road for the divisional round even if they win. A Bills victory means they are going to KC while the winner of Vegas-Cincy goes to Tennessee.
I know that (and so does he) but it sounds better my way.
 

simplyeric

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I was just replying to the idea that it would take a comedy of errors to yield a blowout. My point was simply that some injuries that are already limiting practice participation could force the Pats to scrap their strength, leading to some plays we’ve already seen happen a few times this season. And that this could snowball to a blowout.
Nailed it.
 

Silverdude2167

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Here’s a scenario that is fairly realistic, I fear.
Pre-game:
1. Dugger and Mills can’t play (injury and COVID).
2. Herron has to play the entire game for Wynn.

In-game:
1. Without 2 of their top DBs, Allen, Diggs and company run wild.
2. Trailing the whole game, the Pats have to abandon the run and throw on every down. Herron gets repeatedly blown up, Jones has the worst game of his career. Pick-6 and a strip-sack/scoop-and-score.
3. Special Teams give up another TD somehow.
Um sorry for questioning you, and yet after re-reading your post, somehow the game could have been worse.
 

SMU_Sox

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I wonder if we see Ross playing a role as slot corner this game. Phillips and Dugger are good against tight ends but haven’t been as effective against shiftier slot types. Bryant is a great role player but he’s not the guy you can put on an island against a twitched up slot type especially if that guy is going to be going sideline to sideline on routes.
As for the defensive line. They’ve been inconsistent this year. Some games they absolutely dominant the LOS and the pressure is coming every other snap. Other times they can’t get their acts together as individuals and as a unit and the secondary eventually gets picked apart. Unless they disrupt the timing of faster spread teams they are asking for trouble. I hope we see guys like Judon, High, KVN, chucking the slots before they have a chance for a free release.
Without Mills they are down to the bottom of the barrel at outside corner. JJW and Wade are both press-man types but I would hate to see either try and cover Diggs or Sanders. I could see JJW or Wade being ok on Gabe Davis though. And really I think it’s on JJW as he is ahead in the pecking order. JJW has had some good games but he’s also been atrocious like against Houston. Ultimately I fear the offense is going to have to do some heavy lifting and I am unsure that they can handle that task. Buffalo has one of the best defenses in the NFL and has more time to stew together as a team the last few years whereas while the Patriots have some core players they still play like a team that is in its first year together. I don’t think the Patriots win and I worry it could get ugly but you never know and if, again, they play a clean game they have a 35-40% chance to win.
Honestly if you want to beat that you need to win on the outside. The way they are cracking down on their underneath stuff so I think their best options involve being patient because many of the ways to attack 2 man coverage are on longer routes. Could be wrong on strategy.
These injuries are adding up. Pats are down Wynn and could lose Mills and/or Dugger. Who is playing outside corner aside from JCJ? JJW? Bethel? Who is their slot corner this time around? Is it Ross? That's scraping the bottom of the barrel in the secondary.
My nightmare scenario was the defensive line playing like shit (that includes edges) and the secondary depth being an issue. Well folks, the secondary depth was not good and the defensive line played like shit.
On the good side Mac actually attacked downfield. They knew offensively what they had to do and had this been a closer game where they didn’t have to just throw it all the time I think they might have even had success. Unfortunately it got so out of hand and so quickly that we will never know. Bolden dropping that pass hurt.

On the interception to Agholor my first take was Mac didn’t throw it close enough outside. I know SN has the same ish take. Basically Agholor had to adjust inside to the ball and while it was close it was too far to the field side and let their pro bowl safety make a play on it. I know the announcers disagreed. It was a spectacular play by the safety but it was also a throw he could make a play on vs a ball right near the sideline.
 

rodderick

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My nightmare scenario was the defensive line playing like shit (that includes edges) and the secondary depth being an issue. Well folks, the secondary depth was not good and the defensive line played like shit.
On the good side Mac actually attacked downfield. They knew offensively what they had to do and had this been a closer game where they didn’t have to just throw it all the time I think they might have even had success. Unfortunately it got so out of hand and so quickly that we will never know. Bolden dropping that pass hurt.

On the interception to Agholor my first take was Mac didn’t throw it close enough outside. I know SN has the same ish take. Basically Agholor had to adjust inside to the ball and while it was close it was too far to the field side and let their pro bowl safety make a play on it. I know the announcers disagreed. It was a spectacular play by the safety but it was also a throw he could make a play on vs a ball right near the sideline.
I thought that throw was short, inside and hung too long in the air. It's probably a bucket catch against air or in single coverage, so not a horrendous pass or anything, but Agholor had the corner toasted and Mac gave Hyde life on that play.
 

Cellar-Door

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My nightmare scenario was the defensive line playing like shit (that includes edges) and the secondary depth being an issue. Well folks, the secondary depth was not good and the defensive line played like shit.
On the good side Mac actually attacked downfield. They knew offensively what they had to do and had this been a closer game where they didn’t have to just throw it all the time I think they might have even had success. Unfortunately it got so out of hand and so quickly that we will never know. Bolden dropping that pass hurt.

On the interception to Agholor my first take was Mac didn’t throw it close enough outside. I know SN has the same ish take. Basically Agholor had to adjust inside to the ball and while it was close it was too far to the field side and let their pro bowl safety make a play on it. I know the announcers disagreed. It was a spectacular play by the safety but it was also a throw he could make a play on vs a ball right near the sideline.
Yeah that was my take on the deep ball.. incredible defensive play, but a different throw and it's a TD and Hyde never has a shot at making the great play.