3 New England Patriots players that need to step up against the Bills

New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy (#53) (Mandatory Credit: Democrat and Chronicle) /

New England Patriots key player No. 3: Kyle Van Noy

After one season with the Miami Dolphins, Kyle Van Noy wasted no time reasserting himself as a vital part of the Patriots defensive scheme. The do-it-all linebacker can line up all over the field, and his versatility has been invaluable to the team this season. And with the fate of their season on the line, New England is going to rely heavily on Van Noy to step up with a huge game against the Bills.

In the previous matchup against Buffalo, Van Noy saw his role scaled back a bit, which was partly due to Buffalo being forced to run the ball more than expected. Van Noy is a solid run defender, but he’s much better against the pass, whether it be rushing the quarterback or playing in coverage. As a result, a guy like Ja’Whaun Bentley saw a bit of a more prominent role the first time around.

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It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the roles get reversed this time around. The Bills love to pass the ball, with Josh Allen leading one of the most potent offenses in the league. If that happens, you can expect Van Noy to be involved early and often when it comes to trying to slow down Allen. Van Noy could blitz, matchup against Bills tight end Dawson Knox on occasion, or sit in the flats and make sure Allen can’t pick up any easy yards.

Another area the Patriots could use Van Noy in would be as a spy on Allen. Allen is always a threat to run the football if he doesn’t see anything he likes down the field, and he can usually outrun everyone in the opposition’s front seven. Van Noy may be one of the few players that can keep up with Allen, so he could be tasked with keeping him in the pocket from time to time as well.

Whatever the scenario, Van Noy is going to need to have a big game if the Patriots want to come out on top. The defense did a good job at containing Buffalo’s offense last time around, but they won’t have the inclement weather helping them out this time around. If Allen ends up struggling throughout the game, Van Noy is going to be a big reason why.