It is another Patriots week where New England has playoff implications on the line and the Bills don't.
That does not mean, however, this game has zero meaning for the visitors.
Sean McDermott and his players have talked over the past few days how this game can be used as a measuring stick against the team that is on the verge of its 10th-straight AFC East division title. Once again the youthful core of the Bills is referenced as gaining valuable experience at Gillette Stadium late in the season against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
But is this your typical Patriots team? We have heard at times over the past few years the whispers that their dynasty run is slowing down, that there are cracks in the seemingly impenetrable armor. New England has lost two in a row for the second time this season after not falling back-to-back weeks since 2015, when they also lost two-straight twice. Brady and the offense still are top five in the league, but this is not a dominating Belichick defense, sitting 23rd in the NFL in yards allowed per game.
All that said, no one in the Bills locker room is taking the bait that the Pats are slipping.
Here is a look at what lies ahead Sunday in Foxborough.
Allen's Patriots Debut
The Monday Night Football meeting between these two teams right before Halloween had a lot of luster taken off of it once Josh Allen was on the sidelines with an injured elbow.
That makes Sunday his first taste of facing New England and specifically, Tom Brady.
Allen said he looked up to Brady growing up and tries to take things from watching "one of the greatest of all-time." Still, he too knows he cannot try to go toe-to-toe with #12, rather look at it as going against the New England defense.
The rookie's running drastically was scaled back a week ago (9 carries for 16 yards) while his passing stayed close to the same (13/26 for 204 yards and a TD). That can be contributed to the Lions often using a spy on Allen , which I would expect to be the same by the Patriots.
Still, Allen continues to progress in the right direction.
Of all the players who can use this game as a measuring stick moving forward, it is Allen, who told me he is well aware of the dominance the Patriots have had over the Bills.
It appears LeSean McCoy will be back after missing just one game with a hamstring injury.
McCoy is in the midst of the worst season of his career (145 carries for 479 yards and 2 TDs, 3.3 yards per carry). He said on Thursday his motivation to return is to get more yards and be back on the field with his teammates.
McDermott acknowledged Friday that the team's desire to continue to get a look at and evaluate Keith Ford may have an effect on Shady's workload, something McCoy himself scoffed at when asked the day before.
Of all the poor performances McCoy has had this season, the first New England game was one of the worst, totaling 13 yards on 12 carries, 12 of which came on his first carry of the game.
White Christmas Return
Tre'Davious White told me before the season one of his goals was to make the Pro Bowl. He, along with everyone else on the Bills, did not.
The last two games White is referring two have been his worst this season. The Jets Robby Anderson had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago and the Lions Kenny Golladay followed that up with seven catches for 146 yards last Sunday.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier pulled White aside after Sunday's win to make sure his top corner wasn't down on himself. He relayed part of his message to the media on Monday, "There's guys that have their bust in Canton, Ohio who have had balls thrown on them and caught."
Frazier praised White for his ability to move on early in his career, with White himself saying he just needs to bounce back. It will be interesting to see who he is lined up against now that Josh Gordon is no longer with the Pats.
3 and Out
- Patriots are undefeated at home this season 6-0, but just 3-5 on the road, their first losing season away from Gillette Stadium since 2009.
- Bills defense ranks 2nd in the NFL in yards allowed per game (292.2). While they allowed 387 in the first meeting with NE, only 166 of that was in the 2nd half and Tom Brady failed to throw a TD.
- Expect to see Ike Boettger rotating in once again with the offensive line. Boettger saw time at right guard in place of John Miller last week.
Bills and Patriots kick things off Sunday at 1 p.m. from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.