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Play to Watch: Patriots' run fronts

Given the Buffalo Bills’ inability to pass, it will be interesting to see how the New England Patriots decide to stack up against the run. Against Houston, the Pats ran a traditional 3-4 for a bunch of plays, with a big nose tackle (Danny Shelton or Malcolm Brown) head up over the center and a nickel safety at linebacker. This could be a good matchup for the Pats vs. Buffalo's Russell Bodine.

 

They also have run a bunch of under fronts, with the strong-side linebacker as the fifth man on the line of scrimmage and the nose tackle on the shoulder of the center to the strong side. This creates more one-on-one opportunities for the D-line. The Pats like to clog run gaps. Many teams (like Detroit this year) respond by trying to spread them out and run. That may be Brian Daboll’s best option Monday night.

 

Another thing the Pats will do is line up five men on the line of scrimmage with one linebacker behind, as on this play vs. Detroit. The key here is the wide defensive linemen must set the edge well (the Pats are good at it), because if the back gets to the perimeter, there's only one linebacker to chase the play. Detroit has a veteran quarterback. The Pats didn't run 5-1 looks last week against Chicago, which isn't as dangerous throwing the ball as Detroit. It's questionable whether the Pats would feel the need to play this way against the Bills.

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