Because of that, the Bills (11-3) will certainly have plenty to play for in Week 16. Plus, beating the Patriots (6-8), will help Buffalo lock up playoff seeding. But in order for the Bills to pull off the win… it’ll still be the games within the game that make all the difference.
With that, here are three key matchups for the Bills in Week 16 vs. the Patriots:
WR John Brown vs. CB Jason McCourty
Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty. Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
One could expect Jason McCourty to be the next man up for the Patriots. Former Bill turned Patriot in Stephon Gilmore is not playing due to a quad injury. JC Jackson will now likely follow Stefon Diggs around the field, leaving the third-man up to cover John Brown. Brown has yet to be activated from injured reserve by the Bills, but it's a move that's expected. If fully healthy, Brown vs. McCourty is a matchup we're not quite sure what to expect. Brown hasn't played much in 2020 and McCourty's coverage grade via Pro Football Focus is the 76th best among cornerbacks. This one could go either way.
Bills cornerback Taron Johnson. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
The Patriots haven't gotten much going in the passing game in 2020. Quarterback Cam Newton leaves plenty to be desired, but Tom Brady probably left New England in part to their lack of help for him. That hasn't improved much, and slot receiver Julian Edelman has dealt with a knee injury for an extended period. In wake of Edelman being out, Jakobi Meyers has had some success in that position. Taron Johnson's play as of late has improved and he needs to continue that against Meyers. PFF does count Meyers as their 20th best wide receiver in the NFL, which is pretty solid.
LB Tremaine Edmunds vs. QB Cam Newton
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The real success that Cam Newton had in Round 1 against the Bills was on the ground. He had nine carries for 54 yards. Damien Harris also had 16 carries for 102 yards as well. A lot of that early-season struggles against the run the Bills had was because of Tremaine Edmunds' injured shoulder. He's doing much better now, physically and on the field with his play, and he could shutdown the Pats' ground attack.