(CBS Boston)- The Patriots have looked dominant to open the 2019 season, winning all three of their games by a combined score of 106-17. But those games have come against the Steelers, Dolphins and Jets, who have combined to start the season 0-9.
In Week 4, the first real test of the season presents itself, as the Pats travel to upstate New York to battle the similarly undefeated Buffalo Bills. While the Bills’ start to the season hasn’t been as dominant as the Patriots, Buffalo is proving to be one of the league’s better defenses. Through three games, the Bills defense is allowing just 15.6 points per game and ranks sixthth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA metric, which is a measure of a defense’s efficiency compared to an average NFL team.
The good news for the Patriots, however, is they rank first in that metric. It isn’t just advanced stats that like the Pats defense either. CBS Baltimore anchor and host of the Ravens postgame show Purple Connection Rick Ritter, says the Pats defense passes the eye test too.
“They might have the best defense in the league,” said Ritter. “Usually we’re not used to saying that, because we’re always talking about the offense.”
The offense, led by Tom Brady, has put up ridiculous numbers so far. Brady himself is completing over 67 percent of his passes, has thrown for over 900 yards to go with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. The running game hasn’t been quite as effective, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, but injuries along the offensive line have been a contributing factor there.
The Bills defense has been one of the league’s best against the pass, with corners Tredavious White and Levi Wallace combining with safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde to make for a stifling secondary. The matchup between Brady and his coterie of receivers and that secondary will be one to watch on Sunday for sure.
The good news is, the Bills pass rush hasn’t been overly effective thus far, ranking just 23rd in adjusted sack rate. Giving Brady time to find the holes in the secondary is a dangerous game to play, and one would think even against the Bills unit, Brady would be able to do so.
On the other side of the ball, Bills quarterback Josh Allen will be the key to the game, according to Ritter.
“If Josh Allen can minimize the mistakes, I think the Bills pull this one out. Bills Mafia, they’re fired up and ready to go,” said Ritter. “Imagine if they win this game, that division is going to be interesting, to say the least.”
Whether or not Allen can limit mistakes remains to be seen. Through three games, the second-year quarterback has thrown three interceptions and fumbled four times.
The Patriots and Bills kick off Sunday at New Era Field in Buffalo, New York at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.