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
J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots key player No. 1: J.C. Jackson

In case it wasn’t clear heading into this season, J.C. Jackson is one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Jackson put that argument to rest this season, and officially earned his first Pro Bowl selection as a result of his best season to date in 2021. Jackson already has proven he’s among the best at his position in the league, but he will face his toughest challenge of the season against Stefon Diggs with the division on the line.

The Diggs-Jackson matchup is easily the most important part of this game. The Bills are already without their top slot wideout Cole Beasley due to COVID, and have had a good chunk of their starting offensive line (Dion Dawkins, Jon Feliciano, and Cody Ford) end up on the COVID list too. And just this morning, the Bills had to add another wide receiver in Gabriel Davis to the COVID list as well, further damaging their offense.

If Jackson can lock up Diggs, this game is going to be New England’s for the taking. The Bills are down to basically Emmanuel Sanders and Knox at tight end after Diggs, and if the rest of the secondary doesn’t have to worry about Diggs, Allen is going to have nowhere to go with the football. Diggs has gotten the better of Jackson in the past, but it’s clear Jackson has taken his game to another level this season.

An outside the box possibility though could be to put Jackson on Sanders and double Diggs every play with Jalen Mills and Devin McCourty. We have seen this strategy work before, namely when head coach Bill Belichick would stick Jonathan Jones on Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs, and have McCourty lurk over the top every play. Maybe that’s the call here, but if Jackson can hang with Diggs, there’s no reason to take him off him.

Next. Toughness is the deciding factor between the Pats & Bills. dark

Either way, locking up Diggs has to be the Patriots top concern defensively. The Bills are hurting a bit offensively, and depending on whether any of the players on the COVID list can return, it could be a long day in the office for Allen. Locking up Diggs would be a huge piece of the puzzle, and if that ends up falling on Jackson, he’s going to have to be up for the challenge.