Monday, January 24, 2022

Patriots Will Be Keyless Starters Vs. Bills

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The New England Patriots will likely already have an uphill battle when they travel to Orchard Park on Saturday to take on the Buffalo Bills.

Chances are that the absence of her left starting tackle Isaiah Wynn will make things more difficult. According to the Patriots’ official Twitter account, Wynn was ruled out for the wildcard weekend game with the Bills.

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A troublesome ankle is the injury keeping Wynn out of the game. If the Patriots don’t pull off the upset, he will have played his last game of the season.

Justin Herron will likely go first in Wynn’s place. The 26-year-old, who is in his second season in the NFL, started in 6 games in 2020 and 4 this season.

Because of his experience and natural suitability for the tackle position, his name was more likely to be called out in that situation than fellow sophomore Mike Onwenu. There’s a chance Yodny might see Cajuste or even Yasir Durant on the field for some time if Herron is struggling.

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If that happens, it will be a big bad sign for the Patriots as they try to win the rubber match against the Bills.

While high winds set the pace for the first meeting between the Patriots and Bills in Week 13, there are some principles from that game that New England must reiterate if they hope to beat Buffalo and advance.

In the Week 16 rematch, the Bills equalized with a 33-21 win at Foxborough.

In the first encounter, the wind crushed the passing game and instead of trying to fight back, New England chose to go almost exclusively with the rushing offense. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw the ball just three times as New England won 14-10.

There’s no way the Patriots will beat the Bills on Saturday if Jones only throws the ball three times. However, the Patriots must continue to lean heavily on their running game. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson will likely need at least 15 rush attempts apiece if the Patriots establish things on the ground.

They need to win the fight ahead of time to take some of the pressure off of Jones. If they can move the ball on the ground, the Bills need to box an extra defender to slow running play. If and when New England can determine this, Jones will need to make a few throws that result in chunk plays or scores to level his team’s attack.

If he can do that, he’ll be putting pressure on Josh Allen and the Bills offense. At this point, New England’s defense — especially the full-backs — must contain Allen and keep him from making plays out of the pocket.

Buffalo’s offense is downright scary when Allen has time or his mobility can make it. The Patriots need to pressure him to force errors. According to Pro Football Focus, Allen makes 3.4% turnover-worthy games per game.

The Patriots need to up the pressure, already inflated on a percentage basis.

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If he can do that, he’ll be putting pressure on Josh Allen and the Bills offense. At this point, New England’s defense — especially the full-backs — must contain Allen and keep him from making plays out of the pocket.

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