3 Takeaways from Bills' Week 13 Loss

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2021

3 Takeaways from Bills' Week 13 Loss

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    Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

    On Monday night, the Buffalo Bills were outplayed by the New England Patriots and undone by some brutal weather. Strong winds were a major factor, and Buffalo failed to adapt as well as its bitter division rival.

    The result was a throwback performance from the Patriots and a 14-10 loss for the Bills.

    The loss drops Buffalo to 7-5 and in second place in the AFC East. The Bills are also currently the No. 7 seed in a crowded AFC field, which places a lot of pressure on these final five weeks. Losing at home hurts, and things won't get much easier next week on the road against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Bills' Week 13 loss.

Buffalo Needs More from Its Backfield

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    The vaunted Bills offense has been very inconsistent as of late. Buffalo put up 30-plus points against both the New York Jets and the New Orleans Saints in the last month, but it also scored 15 or fewer against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and now the Patriots.

    Turnovers have been part of the problem. Quarterback Josh Allen didn't throw an interception on Monday, but he tossed seven over the previous four games (he has 10 on the season). Another issue has been Allen's lack of backfield support.

    The Bills rank 13th in rushing and ninth in yards per carry, but Allen has contributed heavily on the ground. He's rushed for 422 yards for 30 percent of the team's total. Devin Singletary and Matt Breida are averaging 4.6 and 5.1 yards per carry, respectively, but they haven't always been effective.

    On Monday, Singletary, Breida and Zack Moss combined for only 60 yards on 19 carries. That was not enough on a night when passing was difficult and the Patriots rushed for 222 yards.

    Buffalo could use another influx of talent in the backfield, but play-calling has also been an issue. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has relied heavily, perhaps too heavily, on Allen—the Bills rank just 18th in rushing attempts. In bad winter weather, that might not be the best recipe for success.

    It was the wrong game plan on Monday night, as Allen was just 15-of-30 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Run Defense Is a Major Liability

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    Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

    The ground game has been a bit of an issue for Buffalo. Run defense has been an even bigger problem recently. For the season, Buffalo ranks a respectable 12th against the run and a strong seventh in yards per carry allowed (4.0). In two of the last three games, though, the defense has been steamrolled on the ground.

    The Colts rushed for 264 yards in Week 11 before the Patriots had 222. The discouraging part of this latest performance is that the Patriots didn't hide the fact that they were going to run early, often and almost exclusively.

    New England quarterback Mac Jones attempted just three passes and threw for a mere 19 yards.

    Allen blamed poor execution for the loss on Monday, and that was an issue. The Bills made it to the red zone on their final three possessions and came away with only three points. A failed fourth-down conversion attempt ended the final drive.

    "We've got to play better," Allen told reporters after the game.

    The Bills do need to play better moving forward if they hope to make the postseason. Reaching the playoffs won't mean much, though, if Buffalo cannot stop the run in January.

The Bills Are No Longer Kings of the AFC East

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Buffalo's time at the top was brief. The Bills won the AFC East in 2020 and advanced to the AFC title game. It appeared then that they would be poised to control the division for the foreseeable future. Tom Brady was no longer in New England, and the door to dominance appeared wide-open.

    The Patriots may have slammed that door shut Monday, though. By outcoaching and outplaying Buffalo, New England proved that it is back on top of the proverbial mountain. Not only are the Patriots in first place in the AFC, but they hold the No. 1 seed in the conference.

    This is a huge problem for Buffalo in 2021. At 7-5, Buffalo still controls its playoff destiny, but one loss could change that. A road rematch with New England awaits in Week 16, and the playoffs very well may run through Foxborough, Massachusetts.

    On top of facing a difficult path to the Super Bowl, the Bills are also saddled with the psychological hurdle of again being a second-tier team in their own division. On top of that, Buffalo hasn't beaten a team that currently has a winning record since knocking off the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5.

    Momentum can be a deciding factor heading into the playoffs, and Buffalo has none after Monday night's loss.

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