On the offensive side of the ball, the element that has been most consistent for the New England Patriots has been the passing game. Last weekend, with Julian Edelman, injured in the second half, it was Josh Gordon who carried much of the load.
Gordon caught five passes for 66 yards in the second half of Sunday’s win over the New York Jets, making a pair of incredible grabs in tight coverage. It was the second such game in which Gordon was heavily involved along with the season-opener.
In the one game Antonio Brown played for the Patriots, Gordon was held to just two catches for 21 yards, a product of having a second outside receiver taking away targets. How much of a factor will Gordon be this weekend against Buffalo?
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Josh Gordon Matchup vs Buffalo
Gordon has lined up against Buffalo more times than any other AFC East team in his career (four), recording 18 catches for 243 yards. That’s good for an average of 60 yards per game and 13.5 yards per catch.
Last weekend, Buffalo took down the Cincinnati Bengals but struggled to contain outside threat Auden Tate, who reeled in six catches for 88 yards. Gordon is of similar size and stature to Tate and has shown his ability to make catches in tight coverage and while withstanding contact.
Last season, in his one game against the Bills, Gordon made four catches for 42 yards. That game also featured big plays from Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan, two pass-catchers no longer with the team. Edelman went for 104 yards through the air as well. Even if he’s active, it’s unlikely he’ll be peppered given the nature of his injury.
Brady has traditionally been good against Buffalo in his career, going 30-3 and averaging 250 yards per game. Although Buffalo’s defense has sharpened up this year, expect much of the same from Brady who will be distributing the ball to his most trusted target downfield in Gordon.
Should You Start Gordon in Week 4 vs Buffalo?
The Patriots need to find some creative ways to move the ball without much of a power running game anymore. Last year, that was how New England finished off the season. But this year, with a lack of a steady presence at tight end and their Pro Bowl fullback injured, passing will be how New England lives and dies offensively.
Circling back to the lack of steady presence at tight end, Gordon has helped fill that void with his deep routes down the middle of the field. He showed he could make those tough catches against Pittsburgh and again versus the Jets.
In red-zone passing packages, however, Gordon hasn’t been much of a threat though there haven’t really been many opportunities to use him in that role. He has also never scored a touchdown on the road with the Patriots.
All things considered, starting Gordon this weekend could be an asset. While the Bills have managed to contain running backs and slot receivers, they have struggled against outside targets meaning Gordon could be heavily involved.