New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills – 3 Up, 3 Down

Brett Carlsen / Getty Images North America
Brett Carlsen / Getty Images North America

Here are the three top and three bottom performers from the Patriots game against the Bills.

UP

Tom Brady – No. 12 had his second great game in as many weeks as he finished with 27/37 for 361 yards and 4 touchdowns, including couple impressive long completions.

Darrelle Revis – Cornerback did an excellent job of taking away the Bills’ most dangerous wide receiver, limiting Sammy Watkins to two receptions.

Josh McDaniels – After often being criticized, especially for the lack of halftime adjustments, the Patriots came out for the second half and their offense absolutely dominated the Bills defense with nicely called drives.

DOWN

Nate Solder – Left tackle had his hands full with Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes and allowed several hurries in the first half, even leading to him being benched for a few plays in the first half.

Tight end coverage – The Patriots allowed six catches and 105 receiving yards to tight end Scott Chandler, many of them in crucial situations.

Injuries – Patriots suffered several injuries that could loom big with the team having a short week before hosting the Jets on Thursday night.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills – Second Half Patriots Notes

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images North America
Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images North America

Here are my observations from the second half of the Patriots’ game against the Buffalo Bills.

Deep threat in New England? – The Patriots drafted wide receiver Aaron Dobson in 2013 to add a vertical element to the passing game. However, through 22 games, Dobson has failed to emerge as a deep threat. Brian Tyms on the other hand may have achieved that in his first game. Despite not catching passes from Brady in the preseason, Tyms was targeted deep twice against the Bills and one of them resulted in a long touchdown. Tyms can bring a long needed element to the team if the Patriots can get him involved in the offense.

Pat Chung shows up in run defense – The Oregon alum continued his impressive season with a couple tackles for loss. Although, he is still not reliable in pass coverage, Chung can be a key element of the Patriots’ run defense with his solid tackling skills and good anticipation.

Ninkovich re-emerges – Outside linebacker/defensive end Rob Ninkovich had failed to make his presence felt over the first five games of the 2014 season. However, he registered three sacks against the Bills today. It is necessary to note that two of those occasions seemed to be rather coverage sacks, than him getting to the quarterback early. Nevertheless, it is a promising sign from the long-time Patriot.

Tough injuries – The Patriots seemed to have lost as many as three key starters against the Bills as running back Stevan Ridley, offensive lineman Dan Connolly and linebacker Jerod Mayo all left the game due to injuries. Additionally, starters Bryan Stork and Donta’ Hightower also had to miss the game. The Patriots will have to hope for extra fast recovery or need to work on their replacement on the flight home as they face the Jets after a short week on Thursday night.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills – First Half Notes

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images North America
Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images North America

Here are my observations from the first half of the Patriots’ second divisional game of the 2014 season.

Musical chairs at offensive line – With rookie center Bryan Stork out, the Patriots had to re-shuffle their offensive line once again. Dan Connolly’s head injury during the game forced the Patriots to make changes within the unit yet again. However, the line held its ground in pass protection for the most part of the first half despite struggling to create running lanes for the running backs.

Revis Island in full effect – Just like he did against A.J. Green last week, Darrelle Revis has keyed in on the Bills’ most dangerous receiver and has been following Sammy Watkins all over the field. On most plays this led to quarterback Kyle Orton not even looking towards the rookie wide receiver. After one half, Revis has kept Watkins without a single catch. The usage of Revis over the past two weeks has to be encouraging for Patriots fans as he has been playing more man-to-man than in the previous four games. This is the best utilization of the cornerback and should be the strategy going forward as well.

Danny Aiken struggles – At the end of the Patriots’ second drive, Aiken first committed a false start that forced the Patriots to move back five yards. Just a couple seconds later he delivered an inaccurate long snap to holder Ryan Allen that led to Stephen Gostkowski missing a short field goal try. It will be worth monitoring whether there will be a long snapper tryout in Foxborough tomorrow.

Dennard comes up big on third downs –  Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was in coverage on two third down targets in the first half. The first one ended up to be an incomplete pass and while the second was completed, Dennard made a crucial tackle before the receiver could reach the first-down marker. However, later in the half he was in coverage when wide receiver Robert Woods scored the lone touchdown of Buffalo. The cornerback has to make a final push for the starting job and playing time before Brandon Browner gets involved in the defense. He has mixed results so far.

Linebacker depth tested again – Due to Donta’ Hightower being out, the Patriots were already thin at the linebacker position. However, with Jerod Mayo’s seemingly serious injury the situation just went from bad to worse. The Patriots already used their one Injured Reserve with designation to return; therefore, it will be necessary to monitor how serious Mayo’s injury is. Also, you can add linebacker to long snapper on the list of potential tryouts next week in New England.

 

 

New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs – 3 Up, 3 Down

Jim Rogash / Getty Images North America
Jim Rogash / Getty Images North America

UP

Bryan Stork – Center held his ground well in tough environment, making errors only when he might have been asked to do too much.

Brandon LaFell – Former Carolina wide receiver finally got involved in the Patriots offense and registered 119 yards and a touchdown.

Matt Slater – Special teamer was by far the best Patriots player on the field. He made couple great plays as a gunner on punts and showed up on kickoff coverage as well.

DOWN

Logan Ryan – Second-year cornerback was pulled at halftime after having a poor first half with allowing several passes and committing a key penalty.

Tom Brady – Quarterback finished with 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in one of the worst games in his career.

Defensive line – The unit was pushed around all game long and could not do anything against the Chiefs’ running game.

New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs – Second Half Patriots Notes

Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images North America
Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images North America

Here are my observations from the second half of the Patriots’ game at Arrowhead Stadium.

Brady struggles – Quarterback Tom Brady just had one of the worst games of his career. He failed to find open receivers or when he did he could not always connect with them. In addition, he tried to force passes into really tight spots, which resulted in an interception return touchdown as well. Patriots fans will wonder all week long if this might be the beginning of the end.

LaFell gets involved – One of the bright spots tonight has been the play of Brandon LaFell. In the previous three games Brady had struggled to connect with the former Panthers wide receiver; however, today he found him 5 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. If there is anything to be optimistic about, LaFell’s involvement in this offense might just be it.

Equipment issues – The Patriots seemed to be slipping on the field all night long, which leads to some questions whether they had too short cleats on. Among others, Malcolm Butler, Tavon Wilson and Rob Ninkovich all slipped in key situations.

New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs – First Half Notes

Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images North America
Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images North America

Here are my observations from the first half of the Patriots’ Monday night game against Kansas City.

Inactive receivers – The absence of wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson meant that the Patriots only had three receivers on Monday night, excluding special teamer Matt Slater. This combined with the fact that rookie running back James White was active for the first time in his career foreshadowed Bill Belichick’s game plan.

Roster move coming? – The Patriots could not get big productions from either Aaron Dobson or Kenbrell Thompins so far this season and it got to a point on Monday night where none of the second-year receivers play. With suspended wide receiver Brian Tyms coming back this week, it will be interesting to monitor if this will represent a roster move for Dobson or Thompkins.

Running at Jones – Despite Chandler Jones’ success when rushing the passer, his work against the run hurt the team in the first half. The Chiefs used Jones’ aggressiveness against him a couple occasions and let him take himself out of position to stop the run with a pass rushing move.

Siliga’s absence felt – Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga was placed on IR with return designation this past weekend and the team already misses him as the Chiefs can easily run up the middle for large gains. Joe Vellano is clearly not an option against the run as he is easily pushed around by offensive linemen, while Chris Jones is more also more efficient rushing the passer than playing the run. The Patriots need to be careful not to ask Vince Wilfork too much from Vince Wilfork.

Stork provides a spark for the offensive line – Rookie center Bryan Stork had to make his first NFL start in a very difficult environment – Arrowhead Stadium just made a Guinness World Record for being the loudest open stadium. However, he stood his ground well against a solid Chiefs defensive line. The line overall does a better job in protecting quarterback Tom Brady; although, are still ineffective opening running lanes for running backs Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen.

Denver Broncos @ Seattle Seahawks – 3 Up, 3 Down

Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images North America
Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images North America

Here are the top and bottom performers from the overtime thriller Broncos-Seahawks game.

UP

Russell Wilson – The third-year quarterback finishes with 258 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a perfect 39-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Lockette. The Wisconsin alum wins the game for the Seahawks with an impressive drive in overtime. Wilson showed up on a stat sheet with a 17-yard catch as well.

Earl Thomas – The Texas alum forced a fumble on Denver’s first play and was around the ball for the remainder of the game. It seemed that he had another forced fumble; however, it was called back and ruled an incomplete pass.

DeMarcus Ware – The veteran player’s sack on Russell Wilson brings life to Denver. He followed it up with helping in on the next play that resulted in a safety.

DOWN

Byron Maxwell – Maxwell was targeted on nearly every second Manning pass and was rarely able to force incompletions.

Seahawks pass protection – The unit was dominated all game long by DeMarcus Ware and company. Their breakdown on Ware’s sack resulted in a safety that brought Denver back into the game.

Aqib Talib – Despite his tipped pass that led to an interception, Talib finds himself on this list as he allowed several completions in the first half including a touchdown to Ricardo Lockette. In addition, Talib was penalized for an unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter.