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The Patriots' Shocker Over Buffalo Wasn't A Fluke

Foxborough, MA - Life for Patriots fans hasn't been easy in the last three weeks. Sunday was a reprieve with that. With a 29-25 win over the Bills, the Patriots won their first over Buffalo in four meetings, set a new season-high point total of 29 and Mac Jones engineered just his second game-winning drive of his career. It's easy to dismiss this win for the now 2-5 Patriots, but here's why that's not the case.


QB Change? Not So Fast.

Every QB is bound to have his ups and downs, but this game showed a lot more than just some fluctuation. It showed what Mac can do with support around him. The tight ends stepped up, Demario Douglas and Kendrick Bourne stood out within the receivers, and the running game was starting to hum as well. Perhaps it was Dante Scarnecchia's presence in the building, but the offensive line was also playing at a high level. Jones took full advantage in a 25-30, 272 yard, 2 TD day.


More than the stats, he just looked different. This was a lot like watching 2021 Mac, except with more presence and more of his own style. His strengths when he's playing well - finding the highest-percentage play, using all of his weapons, and completing the ball at a high percentage - all showed themselves on Sunday.


Jones was spiraling, both in terms of his play and his mentality. He needed a signature win, one that he was the reason for, and an upset over the team that handed him his first truly humiliating defeat in the 2021 Wild Card game will do it. He led his first game-winning drive since October 2021, and was an integral part of the win, outdueling Josh Allen in the process.


Wins like this can change careers, and if Mac can sustain this level - a level he was able to create at times in the first two games of this season - the Patriots all of a sudden can become choosers over beggars in the draft, and get a star OL or WR in the draft. There's more work to do, and keeping up this level for each position group won't be easy, but the young signal caller's bid for a fifth-year option is very much alive.


The Patriots Need Better Offensive Playmakers, But The Current Group Has Hope

In a season where the necessary level isn't being reached by the expected commodities, others are stepping up. After a tough 2022, Kendrick Bourne is not only being used more, he's also playing better, perhaps better than ever. After just 7 games, he already has 34 receptions for 370 yards and 3 TDs, and his reception and yards figures lead the team. His clean route running, reliable hands, and ability to get yards after the catch are having positive effects on the entire team.


Demario Douglas, or D-Pop, as I prefer to call him, is having an incredible rookie season. His athleticism, raw speed, and ability to change direction both with and without the ball is proving incredibly difficult to deal with for defenses. Both Bourne and Douglas are fundamental pieces of the future of the offense and need to be prioritized in the offseason.


The tight ends aren't quite being used to the extent that they can, but they're having fairly solid seasons, and if the offense can keep improving, Gesicki and Henry can become a fearsome duo, and Brown is a surprising revelation at the TE3 spot. While the issues with Devante Parker, JuJu Smith Schuster, and the still unknown threat of Thornton can't be ignored, and the team still needs a true WR1 - there's more to their current group than meets the eye.



The Defense Is Making Big Plays

The Patriots defense has been solid all season. The misleading allowed point counts, full of points off turnovers, short fields, and defensive TDs, don't tell the full picture of a well-rounded, well-coached group. Even with the injuries of Judon and Gonzalez, they've held up with a great balance of pass rush, coverage, and stopping the run.


With Marcus Jones hopefully coming back soon, the corner depth issue is taking care of itself, and the safety group is arguably the deepest and best in the entire league, rounding out a good secondary. Keion White and Deatrich Wise still make a great DE group and the interior line, led by Godchaux and Barmore, is really starting to make an imprint.


Jabrill Peppers made yet another early game-changing play, this time coming up with the ball with an opening-drive interception of Josh Allen - resulting in a Patriots TD. JaWhaun Bentley made a great play on Dawson Knox in the third quarter to force a turnover on downs, also setting up a Patriots touchdown.


The Patriots forced the Bills seven times on third downs, and got them off the field more than they have at any point since the 2021 wind game. All in all, they were not just solid, they were clutch and made the right plays in the right moments. On Sunday, they finally got an offense that rewarded them for that. The defense will continue to be something to build on, and with Judon and Gonzalez back into the fray next year, it could be an unreal unit.

 

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