Patriots vs. Bills Week 13 preview: Are the Pats better than we saw in January? | Rare Techy


The Patriots final test for the 2021 season came last January. They failed in historic fashion. The morning after getting crushed at the hands of the Bills 47-17, Bill Belichick grappled with the question of who and what his team really was.

“We’ve got to have a good long run again, not just in one game, but in 18,” he said. “You could argue that there were elements of last night’s game and some of the other games, but you’re right. Last night’s game was the least competitive game we played last year. So again, that’s us, or is it? Bad night? We’ll see when we start playing next year, I guess. .”

We have an offseason, training camp, and 14 preseason and regular-season games for next year. Eleven months removed.

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Despite the big changes prompted by that Bills loss and coming off a 1-4 2021, the Patriots appear to be in the same position they were in January. Riding the waves of mediocrity.

Some things — the rush, the secondary, the overall defense — look better. Other things — offense, coaching, attention to detail, situational football — are worse. Their 6-5 record has them sniffing around the back of the playoffs, but they’re not exactly dangerous.

The “fear factor” of the team Belichick coached after Thanksgiving was washed away by a three-year wave of December madness. New England is 6-11 after Dec. 1 in the last three seasons.

Thursday, Dec. 1. Will this year look like the previous three — a Patriots team fattened by substandard or bungled teams exposed when the weather turns and the going gets tough? Is it still in the team DNA to be the best, hardest and best training team in high quality games?

All it takes is one night of sheer talent against Buffalo to change the conversation and sandblast the slur “MEDIOCRE” off the face of the franchise. that’s all. While we’ve bemoaned the offense, the penalties, the makeup of the coaching staff and the lack of production from high-quality players — it’s just a sign that the team is at its best against the best team in their division. than it was in January.

It should not be an impossible obstacle to clear.

Despite the big changes prompted by that Bills loss and coming off a 1-4 2021, the Patriots appear to be in the same position they were in January. Riding the waves of mediocrity.

Buffalo is 2-2 in its last four. Elbow by Josh Allen. Missing key defenders (Von Miller and Micah Hyde). The Jets and Dolphins were able to upset Buffalo. The game is in Gillette, and the offense showed its ability at a high level last week.

So insist on a punt or two.

Come up with a turnover.

Hold Buffalo to less than 20 first downs (they had 29 and 28 in infamous games without a punt).

Make a trip to the red zone and finish it off with a touchdown (the Patriots 12 on the 31st doing so this season). Hell, score multiple touchdowns. You’ve only got 20 in 11 games so far, and you might not get the paltry 2020 output of 32 from Cam & Co.

See what you can do about taking fewer penalties than your opponents for the third time all season. Short of the worst yardage mismatch in that league.

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as well as? Don’t get sacked, lose yards to the offense or turn it over, as it has done 65 times in the last eight games.

Bang Hunter Henry, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith, and Kendrick Bourne a few times and see if you can get one of them to the 25-catch mark in the preseason.

Play like a team that has made significant progress. Play like a team closer to the top of the division than the bottom. Don’t build a playoff caliber team with an objectively better quarterback sweating like they did with the Vikings this year and the Bucs and Cowboys last year. Hit one for the first time since November 2020 when you took out the Ravens and Lamar Jackson.

I strongly believe that 6-6 against the Bills is inevitable. I have all the bouquets to look at you if I’m wrong. Honestly, I’d lob them even if you lose without beating yourself up with penalties, in-game mismanagement, and ass-inspired play calling.

I have no problem with the moral victory against the bills. Not after the way they thoroughly let you down last year. But boating is not possible. It can’t be a drama-free fourth. You can’t let them take pity on you in prime time like Justin Fields did when you played the Bears two months ago.

It’s exam time.

Bills 27, Patriots 20


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