News & Analysis

NFL Week 13 Preview: Patriots at Bills

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Dion Lewis #33 the New England Patriots takes the handoff from Tom Brady #12 against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots visit the Buffalo Bills in Week 13 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.

PFFELO Ranking: 1

Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer

Matchup: New England Patriots offense vs. Buffalo Bills defense

  • RB Dion Lewis vs. Edge Lorenzo Alexander – Dion Lewis’ overall grade of 86.9 is the highest of his career and stands as the fourth-highest grade among qualified running backs. Out of 51 running backs with 51-plus attempts, Lewis’ 101.8 elusive rating is the second-highest. He’ll often draw the assignment of edge defender Lorenzo Alexander, which may pit his biggest strength against his opponent’s biggest weakness. Alexander does have a run stop percentage of 8.1, 15th out of 54 qualified edge defenders, but he’s also missed eight tackles, the most among all edge defenders.
  • WR Brandin Cooks vs. CB E.J. Gaines – When Tom Brady throws in Brandin Cooks’ direction, good things happen. Cooks’ 125.9 wide receiver rating is the second-highest mark among 37 qualifying wide receivers. After logging catches of 22 and 37 yards in Week 12, Cooks' 56.5 catch rate percentage on deep passes is No. 1 among 53 qualified wide receivers. Cornerback E.J. Gaines, who lines up on the right side for 95 percent of his snaps, will be the Cooks’ primary defender, as Cooks lines up to the offense’s left for 65 percent of his snaps. Gaines’ 81.5 overall grade stands at 30th out of 118 qualified cornerbacks, and he’s played 8.1 coverage snaps per reception allowed, tied for the sixth-lowest mark among qualified cornerbacks.

Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, New England Patriots

  • T Nate Solder vs. Edge Jerry Hughes – Nate Solder has had some struggles at left tackle through the first half of this season, but he’s rounded into form since the team’s bye. His overall game grades of 82.8 in Week 11 and 88.8 in Week 12 were his highest of the 2017 season. His run-blocking grade of 96.3 in last week’s game against the Dolphins was the highest grade given to any a player for any assignment in that game. He’ll be up against Hughes often this week. Hughes’ 85.2 overall grade is 18th out of 112 qualified tackles, and his 90.5 run-defense grade is tied for the third-highest mark. His 15 stops on 169 run snaps amount to an 8.9 run stop percentage, tied for seventh-highest among edge defenders.

PFFELO Ranking: 15

Coverage by: Elliott Rooney

Matchup: Buffalo Bills offense vs. New England Patriots defense

LeSean McCoy, running back, Buffalo Bills

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