Patriots-Bills matchup of the day: Tuesday

Posted Dec. 21, 2010 @ 6:44 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 16 game between New England and Buffalo:

Bills NT Kyle Williams vs. Patriots C Dan Koppen

For the most part this season, the Patriots have done a great job of keeping QB Tom Brady on his feet and not on the turf. That includes a string of five games in which the O-line allowed just three sacks (Weeks 8-12). But the veteran front has looked vulnerable of late, allowing three sacks in each of the last three games.

Now, the Patriots won all three of those games and have won six in a row. In fact, in their two losses, the Patriots allowed just one sack in each, so teams are not taking advantage when they get after Brady.

A weak spot seems to be up the middle, where 4-3 defensive tackles and 3-4 tackles are finding their way into the backfield past veteran C Dan Koppen and OGs Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly. The Pats' backs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, can also take some blame if a DT gets to Brady.

Of the 24 sacks Brady has incurred, nine have come from defensive tackles, most recently being taken down twice by Packers NT B.J. Raji. One of those nine sacks came from the Bills' top D-lineman: Kyle Williams in Week Three.

Williams has five sacks this season, including two against the Steelers in Week 12. He got some high praise from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: "Every time we play against him, every time I see him play, he's strong, he's quick (and) he's making plays in the backfield." On Sunday in Buffalo, Williams will be called upon to get after Brady in the Bills' attempt to slow down the Patriots' attack.

Koppen needs to win the point of attack with Williams and keep him in check from the snap. If Koppen needs to pick up a blitzer, it will be on the Patriots' backs to stop Williams. While teams have failed to translate sacks into empty drives for New England, the Bills could gain an advantage if they can force long downs by getting Brady down, and Williams is their best option to do so.