Survive and advance.
The New England Patriots are slated to travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills on Monday Night Football on ESPN tonight, as it looks to keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle for the first seed in the AFC.
Even without running back Sony Michel, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon and cornerback Eric Rowe this team has more than enough fire power to put this game out of reach before halftime. The key for the Patriots should be to get ahead comfortably early on so they don’t have to risk injury in the second half.
Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen will not be able to suit up, so it turns to backup journeyman Derek Anderson to try and pull off an upset. Running back LeSean McCoy is cleared to play after suffering a concussion, and he is really the only offensive option that garners any real attention. After the New England defense struggled against Chicago last week, it will bear watching to see if they can subdue a very subpar offense and gain some confidence heading into next week’s Sunday Night Showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The Bills will look to control the clock to limit the amount of chances that quarterback Tom Brady has the ball on the field, but it is tough to believe that they will be able to do that. After the franchise made its first postseason appearance last season for the first time since 1999, it has certainly taken a step back this season. This will be their version of the Super Bowl this year, trying to play spoilers in front of an always raucous home crowd. If the Patriots can score early and get some doubt into the Bills and the crowd, it will be cruise control from there on out.
Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski will be playing in front of familiar territory, as the Amherst, N.Y. native has always succeeded against Buffalo. In 13 career games against the Bills, Gronkowski has recorded 12 touchdown receptions, the most against any opponent in his career.
After being sidelined last week against the Bears, Gronk will more than likely be on a snap count, especially if the game gets out of hand early.
The contest should be a cake walk, score early and often and get the heck out of there with no injuries so you can focus on the Packers.