New England Patriots: 3 keys to beating the Bills in the Wild Card round

Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
New England Patriots
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (37) Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

New England Patriots key No. 3: Establish the run game

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. In the first two games against Buffalo, the Patriots ran the ball 73 times for 371 yards and four touchdowns. It’s clear that they are going to need a similar type of production in their third meeting if they want to walk away with a victory.

The key to making this happen is going to be Damien Harris. Harris has accounted for most of the production on the ground against Buffalo (28 CAR, 214 YDS, 4 TD) and he really only played the first half of the first game. Harris is going to be leaned on heavily to find some gaps in Buffalo’s front seven, just like he did in the first two games.

Related Story. Have the Patriots reverted back to their old ways?. light

The problem is Harris has been used rather sparingly in the past two games. He’s only gotten 20 carries over the past two games, and has rarely found much usage outside of the red zone. He has admittedly been battling a hamstring injury, so maybe the coaching staff thought it would be in their best interest to try to get him healthy for the playoffs, but it’s time for Harris to reestablish himself as the best running back on this team.

The good news is that Harris won’t have to do all the work himself, and he should be relieved by Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden from time to time as well. I’ve been a proponent of using double running back sets out of the shotgun for awhile now, and maybe this is the game to pull it out to help open up some more running lanes against a Bills defense that has to know what New England is going to try to do.

There aren’t many secrets left between these two teams, and it’s certainly no secret that the ground game is going to have to come through if the Patriots want any shot of winning this game. If Harris can continue to find holes against Buffalo’s front seven, with Stevenson and Bolden chipping in too, New England will stand a much better shot of winning as a result.