After quickly turning the page from a tough loss on Thanksgiving night to the Vikings, Patriots coaches met virtually with the media on Saturday, which was technically the team's Tuesday of game week with a renewed focus on their divisional rivals from Western New York.
New England should need little help refocusing on the Buffalo Bills, a team that handled them easily in two matchups late last season, first winning 33-21 at Gillette Stadium, followed by a 47-17 dusting in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. A common refrain this offseason has been mentioning the Patriots defense didn't force a punt in either lopsided contest and now, in Week 13 they'll get their first crack at solving Josh Allen this season.
Jerod Mayo said the team hadn't forgotten their performances in those last two matchups, but that they already needed no added motivation coming off the loss to the Vikings.
"It wasn't our best showing last time we played these guys but I'll be honest with you, coming off a loss [to Minnesota], I think the guys are tuned in and ready to go get back on the field to perform a lot better than we did last time we stepped foot on the field, said Mayo."
"Yeah, I'm sure some of that stuff will be relevant for them," said Steve Belichick of the Bills using a similar methodology to attack them. "But last year was last year. Last week was last week. So I'm not going to put all the eggs in one basket and saying like, 'This is what it's gonna be.' You got to take it all into account. They have so many weapons over there that they can attack in a bunch of different ways. So you gotta respect all that."
Belichick said the gameplan nature of the Bills attack makes it difficult to predict what will be coming, other than knowing it would go through Allen, a multidimensional threat who can change the game in an instant.
"They're using their personnel and tweaking things up a little bit relative to the scheme of their opponents," said Belichick. "You kind of see that every week but they're doing a really good job. They've been very, very productive, basically more than anybody else or top two, three, whatever it is. They're doing a really good job as they have for a couple years now."
Allen's unique size and ability have continued to come together this season, despite a recent rash of late-game mistakes that have cost the Bills in the standings. Still seeking their first AFC East divisional win of the season, there's plenty at stake for Buffalo as well as the Patriots, whose playoff chances are sitting at around 50-50 by most model simulations.
In the last two games vs. New England, Allen has thrown for 622 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions, while adding 130 rushing yards. By now the Patriots know the key to the game plan starts with containing Allen but they've had few answers against a quarterback who can burn you with his arm or legs.
"Allen has the ability to extend plays and turn it into street ball at any given point," said Mayo. "So definitely a challenge not only for the front but also for the back end."
"You kind of seeing that more and more in the NFL with these quarterbacks, the ability to extend plays, continue to run and pass the ball downfield and create more plays around with their feet, just their playmaking ability with their arms," said defensive line coach Demarcus Covington.
Covington summed up the key for the defense this week.
"I think it all just comes down to discipline. Just like every week, you need discipline in the run game, discipline in the pass game, discipline in the pass rush. Display pass rush fundamentals, display run game fundamentals. So it's just a game of being disciplined, disciplined overall, respect him as a runner and as a passer."