Patriots Should Feed LeGarrette Blount in Matchup vs. Bills


The Patriots destroyed the Bills with the passing attack in their last match-up, but pounding the ball with LeGarrette Blount will be the key this week.

The Patriots came in to Buffalo in Week 2 to take on a Bills’ team who was coming off of an impressive and unexpected victory over the Indianapolis Colts. That victory looks much less impressive now, but at the time, Rex Ryan’s defense looked fierce, and had some Patriots’ fans worried about the upcoming match-up.

Almost completely abandoning the running game, Tom Brady torched the Bills through the air, completing 38-of-59 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots only ran the ball 15 times in that game, and that included three rushes from Brady and two from wide receivers.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski had a huge game as usual, finishing with seven receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown, but it was mostly the short passing game that allowed the Patriots to hang 40 on the Bills, with WR Julian Edelman and RB Dion Lewis being featured. Edelman finished the game with 11 receptions on a staggering 19 targets for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Lewis caught six passes for 98 yards from the backfield.

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This game was a great indicator of how incredible the Patriots’ passing attack has been this season, with Gronkowski, Edelman and Lewis leading the charge in their own ways. As you know, injuries will force the Patriots’ passing attack to look differently this time around against the Bills. Lewis is out for the season with a knee injury, and Edelman is unlikely to return until the post season with a broken foot.

Obviously, those injuries will impact the game plan from week-to-week, but I think it completely changes how the Patriots should attack the Bills this time around.

Now, Danny Amendola is a talented receiver who will be able to help soften the blow of losing Edelman, but he does not have the elite quickness and natural ability to get open at any time like Edelman did. I think Amendola will succeed, but it is not going to be at the same level as Edelman. Also, I like James White as a player, but he does not hold a torch to Dion Lewis athletically, and will not have the same kind of impact as a receiver.

I am sure Brady will figure out a way to keep the passing game rolling without two of his top three targets, but it is not going to be easy. This week against the Bills appears to be the perfect opportunity to showcase bruising running back LeGarrette Blount.

The last time these two teams met, Blount made his season debut, after serving a one-game suspension to start the year. Blount only carried the ball twice for four yards, as the Patriots showcased Lewis’ ability at the RB position. In that Week 2 match-up, the Bills defense was fully healthy, with a strong run defense seeming to be the strength of the unit.

Also, the Patriots picked on Bills’ rookie corner Ronald Darby in that game, obviously sensing a weak spot in the defense. They were mostly able to get the best of Darby in that game, but he has since gone on to have an incredible rookie season. Darby along with Stephon Gilmore now makes up arguably the best cornerback duo in the entire NFL. Without a full stock of weapons, picking on him is unlikely the best route to go right now.

The Bills’ defense is no longer at full strength, with star defensive tackle Kyle Williams still missing time with a knee injury. Williams is not only one of the vocal leaders of the Bills’ defense, he is their primary run defender on the defensive line. Marcell Dareus and company still make the Bills a difficult team to run on in theory, but losing Williams is a major blow to their efforts against rushing attacks.

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Throughout the entire season, the Bills’ defense has been pretty strong against the run, allowing 97.7 yards per game on the ground, the ninth best total in the entire league. That being said, they have been exploited with the running game in recent weeks without Williams.

Williams has missed the last three games with the knee injury. In those three games, the Bills allowed 120 yards rushing to the Jacksonville Jaguars (including 20 carries for 115 and a touchdown from T.J. Yeldon), 108 rushing yards to the Miami Dolphins (including two touchdowns to Lamar Miller, and 41 yards on five carries to Jay Ajayi) and 128 yards to the New York Jets last week.

The Bills are allowing 118.7 yards on the ground without Williams. If that was their season total, they would be giving up the seventh most rushing yards in the league. The best way to attack the Bills now seems to be on the ground, especially with the Patriots’ many injuries.

The Bills have won two out of their three games without Williams, so it is not like the run defense issues are killing them, but this week they play the Patriots, who will take advantage of any weakness you have. If Blount goes 100+ yards on this Bills’ defense, the Patriots will likely completely control this game.

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Even without Edelman and Lewis, the Patriots’ passing attack is arguably the best in the league. Brady has done a ton of damage with much less receiving talent in the past. They will be fine. That being said, they no longer have two of their top three targets in the passing game, including both guys who excelled the most in their short passing attack. That will make a difference no matter who you have under center.

Blount is a strong back with great ability. He can make a difference against any defense, and I see no reason why he could not consistently pick up yardage against the Bills. It is time for the Patriots to feed their beast, and let Blount roll on Monday Night Football this week.