Patriots Will Be Without Key Starter Vs. Bills

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The New England Patriots are already likely fighting an uphill battle when they travel to Orchard Park on Saturday to take on the Buffalo Bills.

Chances are the absence of their starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn will make things tougher. According to the Patriots’ official Twitter account, Wynn has been ruled out for the Wildcard Weekend matchup with the Bills.

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A troublesome ankle is the injury that is keeping Wynn out of the game. Unless the Patriots pull off the upset, he will have played his final game of the season.

Who Starts in Place of Wynn?

Justin Herron is likely to get the start in Wynn’s place. The 26-year-old who is in his second season in the NFL started 6 games in 2020 and he has started 4 this season.

Because of his experience and natural fit for the tackle position, he was more likely to have his name called in this situation than fellow second-year offensive lineman Mike Onwenu. There is a chance Yodny Cajuste or even Yasir Durant could see some time on the field if Herron struggles.

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If that happens it will be a major bad sign for the Patriots as they attempt to take the rubber match against the Bills.

Patriots’ Keys to Defeating the Bills

While the strong winds set the pace for the first meeting between the Patriots and Bills back in Week 13, there are some principles from that game that New England must repeat if they hope to defeat Buffalo and advance.

In the Week 16 rematch, the Bills evened the score with a 33-21 victory in Foxborough.

In the first meeting, the wind squashed the passing game and rather than try to fight against it, New England chose to go with the rushing attack almost exclusively. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw the ball just three times as New England won 14-10.

There is no way the Patriots will beat the Bills on Saturday with Jones throwing the ball just three times. However, the Patriots must still lean heavily on their run game. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson likely need to have at least 15 rushing attempts apiece as the Patriots establish things on the ground.

They must win the battle upfront to help remove some pressure from Jones. If they can move the ball on the ground, the Bills will be forced to move an extra defender into the box to slow down the run game. When and if New England is able to establish that, Jones is going to need to make a few throws that lead to chunk plays or scores to balance out his team’s attack.

If he can do that, he’ll put some pressure on Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense. At that point, New England’s defense–especially its edge defenders–are going to have to contain Allen and keep him from making plays outside the pocket.

Buffalo’s offense is downright scary when Allen has time or creates it with his mobility. The Patriots must pressure him to force mistakes. According to Pro Football Focus Allen makes 3.4% turnover-worthy plays per game.

The Patriots need to apply the pressure increase that already inflated percentage.

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