The strength of the Buffalo Bills is their defense, which ranks among the top units in the NFL and should give Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense a tough challenge in Saturday's Week 16 matchup.
The Bills also have an effective rushing attack, one that ranks fifth in the league in yards per game.
Buffalo's run game is a two-headed monster featuring rookie Devin Singletary and veteran Frank Gore. The Patriots didn't see Singletary when they beat the Bills 16-10 at New Era Field in Week 4, but he has since emerged as Buffalo's top running back. He leads the team in rushing yards (729), yards per carry (5.4) and runs of 20-plus yards (seven). The 2019 third-round draft pick also makes an impact in the Bills' passing game, and 11 of his 28 receptions have come in the past three games.
Shutting down Singletary should be a priority for the Patriots' defense on Saturday, and coach Bill Belichick detailed the young running back's value to the Bills in his Tuesday press conference.
'He's had good quickness. He's in there on all downs," Belichick told reporters. "He's got some speed to the outside, good quickness to make guys miss, he's involved in the passing game – he's got 20-something catches, whatever it is. So, he's a three-down player.
"When they've been going no-huddle, which they've done that in some games, then certainly it benefits you to have the same back on the field and not have to sub backs situationally. So, he's given them that. I don't know if that's the reason or not, but that's just the way it's worked out."
Singletary is averaging 84 rushing yards (4.77 per carry) the past six games, and he has a good chance of reaching that mark again in Week 16 against a Patriots run defense that hasn't performed particularly well of late. New England's defense gave up 164 yards (5.1 per attempt) on the ground to the Cincinnati Bengals last week, and 136 of those yards were tallied by Joe Mixon. The Patriots have allowed an average of 115.2 rushing yards their past six games, in addition to four rushing touchdowns given up during that span.
One thing that could work in the Patriots' favor is Singletary's tendency to fumble. He fumbled twice in Buffalo's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, and he's coughed up the ball four times in 11 games overall. The Patriots lead the league in takeaways with 36, including 11 fumble recoveries. Ball security will be especially crucial for Singletary versus an aggressive Patriots defense. His performance likely will play a pivotal role in the outcome of this weekend's AFC East showdown.
Bills RB Devin Singletary could play pivotal role vs. Patriots in Week 16 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston