The Patriots are in a unique situation this week, facing a divisional rival for the second time in just three games, with a bye week mixed in between. Usually, the Patriots would have plenty to carry over from the first matchup, but after that game took place in a gusty stadium that largely grounded both teams' passing attack, in many ways this will be like the first time the two teams have faced each other.
"Whenever you play a division opponent this close together there's always a bit of a tug of war," said McDaniels on Tuesday. "You may have had success with something and then you say, 'We've got to do this again, right?' But the other team knows you had success with it so they try to stop it, they may do some things differently, play it differently.
"In this case, there's definitely a starting point where you can go back and say, 'OK these are the ideas we had in this area of the game plan, let's go back and see if we feel comfortable with these... one, personnel, two, scheme against what they're doing now as opposed to three weeks ago. If it's a really good fit and you feel like it's good then you leave it in."
With New England and Buffalo meeting twice a year and both teams having long-tenured staffs some might lean into the experience of the previous matchups, but even having just seen the Bills, McDaniels is starting anew.
"I think the biggest mistake people can make is relaxing and not going through the preparation as if this is the first time we played them," said McDaniel. "So I try to get myself into a mindset of, I don't care what happened three weeks ago. I'm going back through and studying the players, I'm studying the scheme, I'm studying the game plan and I'm going to try to make each decision based on what we feel this week, not three or four weeks ago."
With the division and playoff seeds still very much up in the air, this is a huge game. After the Patriots dominated the AFC East for two decades the Bills finally took the title in 2020 and now the Patriots will look to reclaim the throne on their own homefield against a team that will be fired up for the rematch.
"They're a great challenge this defense since Sean [McDermott]'s been there with Leslie [Frazier]," said McDaniels. "It's been a tremendous challenge for us every time we played them. They do a great job of not giving exactly the same thing every time you play them. When you look at the two-game series that we've played against them, there's tweaks and subtle changes that stop things that you want to do well and then force you to do something else and I think that's just a sign of a great coach. They certainly have great coaching a great staff and their players are still well-connected that they can make those subtle changes and stop something and then it forces you to make an adjustment as well.
"We'll go in with a plan we feel good about it but I'm sure as I'm sitting here there's going to be some things we're going to have to do on Sunday to adjust to something they're doing as well."