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) /
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New England Patriots
Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots key No. 2: Limit Josh Allen

It wasn’t clear in the first meeting when extreme winds forced both sides to keep the ball on the ground for the majority of the game, but Josh Allen is going to be the best player on the field for either team. He torched the Pats in their second meeting for 314 yards and three touchdowns. New England didn’t cover all their bases (specifically, unheralded slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie), and Allen made them pay.

The third time around, the Pats cannot allow Allen to get in the same sort of rhythm that he did in their previous matchup. Buffalo’s rushing attack has been a bit better in recent weeks, but there have been many instances where Allen has been his team’s top rusher this season. He’s a dynamic dual threat player, and if he gets going for Buffalo, it’s going to spell trouble for the Pats.

Based on their last matchup, the Patriots are going to have to add a couple of wrinkles to their gameplan in order to throw Allen off. They may not have to worry about a repeat performance from McKenzie considering Buffalo’s top slot receiver, Cole Beasley, should be on the field this time around. But even then, this team is still full of pass catching talent.

Considering the amount of talent the Bills have, it would seem to make sense for the team to throw more zone looks at Allen, rather than matching up in man coverage for the majority of the time. Guys like Myles Bryant and J.C. Jackson got beaten pretty badly the last time around, and considering how that game went, I don’t think the coaching staff is going to be in a rush to go back to what they did there.

Playing zone allows you to really differentiate your coverages on a play-by-play basis, and you can bet head coach Bill Belichick is crafting up some looks that will hopefully get Allen out of rhythm. The Patriots typically like to play in man for the majority of the time, but to slow down Allen, they may have to take a risk and switch things up. Pressuring Allen will help, but it will ultimately fall on the secondary to slow down the talented young gunslinger.