The New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-16 at Gillette Stadium. The win was a boon for the Patriots, hoping to maintain their top seed in the AFC, and a huge blow to the Bills playoff hopes. Here are the Week 16 New England Patriots Takeaways.
Week 16 New England Patriots Takeaways
A Slow Start
At halftime, the Patriots were tied at 13 with the Bills. The even score in a comparatively uneven matchup was the result of New England’s failures early in the game. On their very first possession, the Patriots went three and out, gaining only four yards in a minute and a half of possession. The Bills immediately launched a grueling eight-minute drive that resulted in a score off the leg of Steven Hauschka.
On the Patriots next possession, the offense drove 79 yards upfield over six minutes and settled for a field goal. New England, the clear favorite going into this game, didn’t lead until there was only 1:55 left in the first half. That lead disappeared quickly and didn’t resurface until two-thirds of the way through the third quarter.
This is the third time in four weeks that New England has been tied or trailing at halftime. Going into the playoffs, the offense is going to have to regain its red zone efficiency, and the defense is going to have be better about getting off the field.
A Wary Eye
Tom Brady is definitely in the conversation for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. But as of late, he hasn’t looked like the offensive firecracker fans expect him to be. He has thrown at least one pick in his last five games and hasn’t thrown more than two touchdowns since the home win versus the Miami Dolphins. Brady has been on and off the injury report with a nagging Achilles injury, but there seems to be something else at play here. An errant pass well behind Rob Gronkowski in the first half gave many Patriots fans pause and may hint at an upper-body injury plaguing him as well.
Even though the Patriots will need a win at home in week 17 to keep their top seed in the AFC, it might be worth it to keep Brady on the bench for the majority of the game. His health and performance will be a major key throughout the playoffs, and a few extra quarters of rest before the first-round bye couldn’t hurt.
A Lopsided Run
Dion Lewis had a standout performance against the Bills this week. The six-year veteran singlehandedly outrushed the entire Buffalo Bills team. Lewis almost doubled six-time Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy‘s output and found the end zone twice during the contest. With Rex Burkhead sidelined, Lewis reminded the Patriots and their fans that there is more than one option for scoring backs. Even Mike Gillislee, a healthy scratch in the last six games, scored in his return to the field.
The Patriots defense held Tyrod Taylor, one of the best running quarterbacks in the league, to 16 yards on three carries. The defense did a much better job of stifling McCoy, who averaged 4.2 yards per carry in week 16. McCoy averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Patriots on December 3rd.
New England will remain at home in week 17 to take on the New York Jets.