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Bills could exploit Patriots at least two ways

12/26/2010

In previewing what appears to be a lopsided mismatch to some, ESPN Stats & Information focuses on a couple ways the Buffalo Bills can take advantage of the New England Patriots.

No, seriously.

The Bills did score 30 points at Gillette Stadium in Week 3, and they've gotten much better in the meantime, taking the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers into overtime.

Two matchup trends that stood out to ESPN researchers Katie Sharp and Ryan Cleary were the Patriots' defensive vulnerabilities on play-action passes and third-down conversions.

The Patriots have the NFL's worst defense against play-action passes, allowing a league-high 77.1 completion percentage and a 109.1 passer rating. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't a frequent play-action passer, but he has been effective when he has tried it.

The Patriots' third-down defense is worst in the NFL. They're allowing opponents to move the chains on 49.2 percent of their third downs. That would be one of the most ineffective third-down defenses since the NFL-AFL merger.

Furthermore, as ESPN Stats & Information points out, the Patriots send four pass-rushers on third-and-long 72.7 percent of the time. Fitzpatrick happens to be efficient there. When he throws in that situation, the Bills convert an amazing 41.9 percent for first downs.

Fitzpatrick has completed 62.8 percent of his passes on third-and-long against four pass rushers for 362 yards and three touchdowns with one interception for a 103.1 passer rating.