The Bills have a tough job in trying to replicate their 16-0 win over the Patriots in Foxboro back in Week 4.
They don’t have running back LeSean McCoy, still have injuries to their receiving corps and face quarterback Tom Brady this time out.
It’s that last part which is of greatest concern, and why the defense has to have one of its better games this season. This isn’t rookie Jacoby Brissett, forced into duty because everyone else is hurt or suspended. It’s a ticked off future Hall of Fame quarterback who probably wants to return the favor for beating his team on their own home turf.
Thus far since returning from his suspension, Brady has been on fire, throwing no interceptions compared to eight touchdowns and averaging 334.6 yards per game, while completing 75.2 percent of his passes.
Here’s the thing, though, evidence to the contrary in his first three games—Brady can be stopped.
That’s where the Bills defense comes in.
After a shaky first two weeks, the defense is playing very well almost across the board. The Bills’ pass defense averages 235.7 net passing yards per game while only giving up four passing touchdowns compared to six interceptions to date.
None of those are the key statistic, though—despite it being an impressive array of numbers. No, the most important stat for this game would be the 21 sacks they’ve had so far.
That’s the second best number in the NFL, and it plays into Brady’s one big Achilles heel. He’s not a fan of pressure, and while few quarterbacks are, Brady does get shaky when it comes to reacting to getting hit.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan knows this and is fairly good at exploiting it. Brady never has an easy time moving the ball against a Rex Ryan defense, which is what this is even if brother Rob Ryan’s name is on it. Rex knows how to disguise his blitzes from Brady, and watching a Rex Ryan defense against Tom Brady is one of the more entertaining chess matches you will see on any given Sunday.
With the Patriots dual tight end threat of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, plus receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White out of the backfield, the Bills will have to bring pressure hard, early and often to limit the impact those players have. Especially Gronkowski, who nobody is a good matchup for no matter the position.
Brady has only been sacked four times so far over the course of three games, though the bulk of those came against the Cincinnati Bengals and he wasn’t sacked at all last week by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Those three sacks by the Bengals reminds you that he can be taken down by a solid defense, though, and his game can be disrupted.
It’s not just about sacks, though—after all, he did throw for 276 yards and three touchdowns against Cincinnati—and the Bills pass rush has to lay a hand on him frequently, whether he is sacked or not.
Constant pressure has to be applied to Brady, with a physical reminder at every turn that he’s going to be hit constantly throughout the day.
That’s the key to disrupting Brady’s game and the Patriots offense.