How the Patriots can get a measure of revenge against Josh Allen and the Bills

The Patriots were a Cam Newton fumble away from possibly having a different outcome with the Bills the last time they hooked up.
That was Week 8, and the defense, playing without Stephon Gilmore, did a decent job containing Josh Allen and the Bills offense.
So much has changed since then.
Allen and the Bills have gone on to clinch the AFC East for the first time since 1995, and the Bills quarterback has transformed into one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks, with 30 touchdown passes.
While the Patriots are playing out the string, out of the playoffs for the first time since 2008, they might want to send a message they won’t be down for long, and avoid being swept.
So on Monday Night Football, they will once again try to stymie the Bills offense without Gilmore, who is out for the rest of the year with a partially torn quad.
Since Week 9, Buffalo’s offense leads the NFL in scoring, averaging 34.8 points per game, and ranks fourth averaging 406.3 total yards per game.
Here’s how the Patriots can tame Josh Allen and the red-hot Bills offense
1. Deny Diggs
Without Gilmore, J.C. Jackson once again inherits the job of trying to slow down WR Stefon Diggs, who is having a monster season.
Diggs broke the single-season record of most receptions set by former Bills receiver Eric Moulds who had 100 in 2002. Entering the game, he sits at 111 catches for a career-high 1,314 receiving yards. Diggs also became the first Bill to record at least nine catches in three straight games.
So he’s the starting point in a talented receiving corps that also features Cole Beasley.
During the Week 8 game, going mostly against Jackson, Diggs had 6 catches for 92 yards. While the Bills did most of their work on the ground in that game, a 24-21 win, Diggs made a few key plays.
Jackson, who is second in the league with eight interceptions, believes he should have been a Pro Bowl player, and plans to put the snub to good use.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said.
If he’s talking about shutting down Diggs, that would go a long way toward a Patriots win.
As it is, since entering the league in 2018, Jackson has the lowest passer rating off his coverage and also has the second-most interceptions.
2. Win on early downs
The Bills have merely converted on 50% of their third down chances in the last six games. To stunt that success, the Patriots have to do a good job on first and second down to set up tougher conversions.
“First down is huge,” Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo said Saturday during a video conference. “We always talk about starting fast. If we can get teams in third-and-longer situations, that will help our third down. But that starts with winning first down, that starts with stopping the run game and being sound in the pass game. So it’s definitely something to try and improve on.”
Of late, the Patriots defense hasn’t been able to get off the field.
Last week, the Dolphins converted 7-of-12 third down opportunities and kept moving the sticks to extend drives.
The past two games, they just haven’t been able to stop the run, so they’ll need to do a much better job.
As Mayo pointed out, the Bills are getting more production in the run game, so the Patriots will need to stuff them to set up more favorable down and distance.
During the Week 8 loss, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for 167 yards with 14 carries each. Moss rushed for a pair of scores.
“Right now, all aspects are working for them,” said Mayo. “They’ve really found a groove that we have to figure out from our perspective, and try and slow them down.”
3. Get to Allen
While this might be a new Josh Allen, one who doesn’t make nearly as many mistakes as in the past, that shouldn’t stop the Patriots from trying to force the Bills quarterback into making the type of plays that have hurt him in the past.
Getting pressure from a pass rush is one place to start. While Allen has improved — 30 touchdowns versus nine interceptions — it’s still a good strategy to make his life miserable in the pocket.
If he’s not pressured, he’ll pick you apart. This season, he became the second quarterback in franchise history to record at least 4,000 passing yards in a season. He’s 360 passing yards away from breaking Drew Bledsoe’s single-season passing yards record of 4,359 yards.
In Week 8, the Patriots did a good job limiting Allen, who completed 11-of-18 yards for 154 yards. He threw a pick (Jackson) and was sacked once. They’ll need a similar effort to have a chance Monday night.

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