What We Saw: Patriots at Bills

I'm not sure if you heard, but it was a bit windy in Buffalo last night

Patriots @ Bills

Final Score: Patriots 14, Bills 10

Writer: Corey Saucier (@Deputy_Commish on Twitter, /u/Lights_Kamara_Action on Reddit)

 

If you didn’t catch any of the game on Monday night and this sentence is the first information about the game you’re receiving – the weather was a factor. That’s right, Buffalo didn’t disappoint with its roughly 25-degree wind chill and 25 mph sustained winds gusting up to 40-50 mph. This was a Bill Belichick dream game. Run the ball, play defense, control the clock, control field position, manage the wind situation – so it’s no surprise that Belichick and the Patriots squeezed out a narrow victory against the Bills on Monday night. Even the opening kickoff boomed about 4 rows deep into the stands. Scoring was at a premium on Monday night. Buffalo’s only TD came after WR N’Keal Harry had a swirling punt graze his helmet for the Bills to recover. Yes, it’s true- QB Mac Jones attempted only three passes. It’s amazing to think that Bills’ QB Josh Allen attempted thirty passes – ten times as many as Jones. But with all of the quirkiness of the weather contributing to the match, the biggest disappointment of all had to be all of your fantasy teams that this game impacted. Did you squeak out enough for a Monday night win? Let’s dive into what we saw:

 

New England Patriots

 

Quarterbacks

 

Mac Jones: 2/3, 19 yards | 5 carries, -3 yards, Fumble

 

It’s no secret that Patriots’ rookie QB Mac Jones has been great during New England’s seven-game winning streak (even though he hasn’t been great for fantasy purposes). But we saw a less-often-appreciated skillset of Jones’s on Monday night – and that’s the art of handing the ball off. We saw Mac hand it off to his left, we saw him hand it off to his right, we even saw him pitch it behind him to either side on a multitude of sweep plays – it was a handoff display of epic proportions. Sure, he completed a couple of passes here and there, but that wasn’t his purpose on Monday night. Oh no. His purpose was to turn around and give the ball to a running back – and he did so magnificently.

 

Running Backs

 

Damien Harris: 10 carries, 111 yards, TD

Rhamondre Stevenson: 24 carries, 78 yards

Brandon Bolden: 4 carries, 28 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

 

The Patriots’ group of running backs really stole the show for fantasy purposes on Monday night – led by RB Damien Harris. After a handful of punts, Harris gashed Buffalo right up the gut for this 64-yard TD:

 

 

Unfortunately, Harris also tweaked his hammy in the second quarter and headed to the locker room early. He did return in the third quarter, but pulled up limping after a 22-yard scamper and didn’t return after that. RB Rhamondre Stevenson also added a respectable 78 yards while taking the bulk of the carries. This was all despite everyone in the building knowing exactly what the Patriots were going to do all night, and Buffalo stacked the box with nine or ten defenders from basically the second drive on.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Jonnu Smith: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Nelson Agholor: 1 target

 

All I can say is this:

 

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Quarterback

 

Josh Allen: 15/30, 145 yards, TD | 6 carries, 39 yards, Fumble (Lost)

 

Bills’ QB Josh Allen had a pretty tough night overall, but it could have been expected coming in due to the weather forecast. So many balls sailed on Allen where the wind grabbed and slung them out of bounds 10 feet over his receivers’ heads. It wasn’t all awful for Allen though – he did hook up with WR Gabriel Davis for this 14-yard TD strike:

 

 

Buffalo had the wind at their back in the 1st and 3rd quarters, and it seemed that Buffalo decided to stick to the short passing game while going with the wind. Allen did have to throw into the wind in the 4th quarter with Buffalo trailing and attempting to come back and win – and he was able to make a handful of throws and drive down the field. In the end, it wasn’t enough and the Bills’ final drive stalled out in the red zone. Thankfully, Allen likely won’t have to deal with 50 mph wind gusts in Tampa next weekend.

 

Running Backs

 

Devin Singletary: 10 carries, 36 yards

Zack Moss: 8 carries, 21 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Matt Breida: 1 carry, 3 yards, Fumble (Lost) | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

 

Buffalo wanted to run the ball on Monday night to play the clock-control game themselves, but the Patriots’ defense had other ideas. This hasn’t been a very productive fantasy RB group this season, but it made sense to hope for the weather conditions to give at least a slight boost to Buffalo’s running game. They didn’t. RB Zack Moss was held to fewer than 30 rushing yards for his sixth consecutive game. RB Devin Singletary has just one total TD in his last ten games. I’m not trying to pile on here, but they have both been bad and they were bad again on Monday night. Somehow, RB Matt Breida was even worse, losing a fumble on his only carry of the night.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Stefon Diggs: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 51 yards

Gabriel Davis: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 30 yards, TD

Emmanuel Sanders: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 31 yards

Dawson Knox: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Cole Beasley: 3 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards

 

The howling winds were especially harsh to Buffalo’s pass-catching group considering that the Bills still decided to throw the ball 30 times. TE Dawson Knox had an especially rough night – finishing with a couple of drops and another couple of close catches that were well-defended and knocked away at the last second. Knox also committed a costly false start penalty late in the game – on a 3rd and 9 inside the red zone while attempting to score a late go-ahead TD. WR Stefon Diggs was the target on Josh Allen’s only deep shot to the end zone but seemed to lose the ball in the wind while trying to track it:

 

 

Diggs also had this absolutely incredible grab with the super smooth adjustment on the sideline:

 

 

Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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