When the Bills run: LeSean McCoy was able to practice on a limited basis this week and reportedly is expected to play. While Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy capably filled in after McCoy got hurt against the Colts, neither scares a defense. Just in case the Bills were interested in trading McCoy by Tuesday's deadline, it would be a big help if he could show he’s healthy enough to play. McCoy has run well against the Patriots as a member of the Bills, gaining at least 70 yards rushing in all five games. Buffalo’s average run play is going for just 3.9 yards per carry, which ranks 28th in the NFL. The Patriots aren’t particularly strong against the run, allowing 4.6 yards per carry (24th in the NFL), but they figure to load up the box to shut down McCoy (if he plays), forcing Derek Anderson to beat them. EDGE: Patriots.
When the Bills pass: Anderson did his best Nathan Peterman impression last week, turning the ball over four times. Given the historic nature of the Bills’ offensive ineptitude, it’s impossible for the team to win when he does that. The Bills are averaging a pathetic 129.4 passing yards per game, last in the NFL. They rank last or second to last in nine of 18 offensive categories tracked by the league. Old friend Stephon Gilmore is having a dominant season for the Patriots, even drawing comparisons to Darrelle Revis from some New England media members. The Patriots have 10 interceptions, one off the NFL lead this season. EDGE: Patriots.
When the Patriots run: Rookie first-round draft pick Sony Michel is developing into a workhorse for New England, but he is listed as doubtful and expected to miss Monday night's game because of a knee injury. Without Michel, the Patriots are down to James White and Kenjon Barner at running back. New England is thought to be pass happy, but the Patriots have run on 44 percent of their offensive plays this season, which puts them in the top third of the NFL. EDGE: Patriots.
When the Patriots pass: What do you get the guy who has everything? For Tom Brady, it was Josh Gordon. The former Browns receiver is getting comfortable in the New England offense, making four catches for 100 yards last week. Julian Edelman is back from suspension and is his usual pesky self. Rob Gronkowski is expected to return to the New England lineup Monday to torment his hometown team. Expect a rowdy ovation for Gronkowski after last year's cheap shot on Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White. Bills safety Jordan Poyer had a pick-six against Brady in December. EDGE: Patriots.
Special teams: The Patriots are traditionally one of the best in the NFL, and enter on a roll. They returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and scored on a blocked punt return in their 38-31 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 7. Kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson might be the best player in the NFL at his position. The same is true of kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The Bills poached Corey Bojorquez from New England before the start of the season, and he's been a solid addition, with 20 punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. EDGE: Patriots.
Coaching: It was troubling last week to hear the Bills talk about how the Colts had thrown things at them they hadn't seen before. It's also concerning the amount of lopsided losses Sean McDermott has been a part of in his two seasons. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll moved down to the sideline last week, but it didn't make a difference. Daboll doesn't have much talent to work with, but he's not getting much out of the players he does have. Bill Belichick has talked the Bills up like thy are a juggernaut. The challenge for him will be to keep his team, which is a two-touchdown favorite, properly focused. EDGE: Patriots.
Prediction: Patriots 38, Bills 13