Week 16 Preview: Buffalo at New England
With the New England Patriots firmly in control of its own destiny from here on out in its quest to land the No. 1 seed in the AFC to secure home field advantage in the playoffs, now isn’t the time to try and be messing around.
The Buffalo Bills enter Foxboro with no margin for error either, as it is currently in its own battle to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 1999, being the only team to not qualify for postseason play in the 21st century.
Having said that, the notion that players on the defensive side of the ball would go out of their way to bring payback to tight end Rob Gronkowski after his dirty play against cornerback Tre’Davious White, could very well affect their playoff chances. Then again, it is the Buffalo Bills we’re talking about, even with head coach Sean McDermott doing an impressive job in his first year at the helm.
A few players to keep an eye on for the Bills will be LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay, and Tyrod Taylor.
McCoy is obvious, as the Patriots have struggled with the running game in recent weeks.
Before being traded to Buffalo, Benjamin had success against the Patriots while with the Carolina Panthers, having notched 104 yards on four receptions. He has been hobbled with injuries the past few weeks, so it will be interesting to see how he does out there today.
Clay has always seemed to have productive outings against the Patriots, going back to his days with the Miami Dolphins.
Taylor, as does most dual-threat quarterbacks, give New England an added layer of playmaking ability to account for, with him having the ability to escape the pocket and pick up some yards with his feet if nobody is open downfield.
Offensively, the Patriots will be shorthanded, as running backs James White and Rex Burkhead won’t be able to go, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan.
With White and Burkhead sidelined, the team has no choice but to activate Mike Gillislee, who will be suiting up against his former team. He had been a healthy scratch for the past six games, so his snaps will be something to keep track of.