ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Even though the Patriots offense has struggled this season, especially during their three-game losing streak, they’ve been able to find success running the ball.
New England averages 155 rushing yards per game, that’s good for fourth in the league. In their two wins this season they rushed for over 200 yards in both of those games. Against the Dolphins they rushed for 217 yards and against the Raiders they rushed for 250 yards.
Damien Harris leads the way with 177 rushing yards among Patriots running backs but the team’s leading rusher is quarterback Cam Newton with 244 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Obviously this Patriots offense has a different look now that Tom Brady is no longer in New England but Newton brings this different element to their game that Brady didn’t.
“A quarterback who has been in the league a long time, obviously he didn’t have the game he wanted to have last week so we know he’s gonna come in and try to prove himself. A team that’s gonna come in and run the football, Cam’s obviously a factor in the run game so we’ve got our hands full,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said.
Newton is coming off a game where he threw three interceptions against the 49ers and was benched for Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Just like the Bills last week, the Patriots also failed to find the end zone except their game resulted in a 33-6 loss to San Francisco.
But despite the recent struggles of this offense, the Bills defense knows there are still challenges they’ll face this weekend.
“A lot of misdirection, just pre-snap, just making you think about football, making you kind of second guess your job but for the most part it’s the New England Patriots offense, a lot of downhill runs, smash mouth football. They’re gonna challenge you first quarter, they’re gonna challenge you in the fourth quarter so we understand that this is just gonna be a game up front where we’ve gotta stop the run, you gotta be physical,” Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes said.
“You gotta bring your lunch pal because the same runs that we’re gonna get in first half are suddenly gonna show up in the fourth. For us up front it’s just how we can do our job. Can we out execute them and do our job longer and harder?”
The Bills run defense ranks 21st in the league giving up 126.7 rushing yards per game. The Bills defense as a whole completely shut down the Jets last week only allowing four yards in the second half. While this unit has struggled this season as well, leaning on the offense to win games, this was their best defensive performance of the year and now they’re looking to build off of that.
Stopping the run is something they’ve looked to improve on all season but especially since their loss to the Chiefs where they allowed 245 yards on the ground.
“In order for us to be successful, obviously we’ve got to be able to stop the run and that includes the quarterback. There’s gonna be some quarterback power, quarterback runs that we’re gonna have to put an eighth man, eight and a half man in the box to be able to defend it. I think stopping the run is gonna be huge for us on Sunday,” Poyer said.