It doesn't seem to matter which quarterback is under center, the New England Patriots just keep on winning. They'll put their 3-0 record on the line against a familiar foe in Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
With Tom Brady still suspended and Jimmy Garoppolo out injured, Bill Belichick turned to third-round rookie Jacoby Brissett under center on Thursday during Week 3. Although Brissett's stats don't pop out, Belichick devised a masterful game plan to take advantage of his strengths and hide his weaknesses. The Patriots were in control the whole time in a 27-0 win over the Houston Texans.
Unfortunately, Brissett suffered a thumb injury in that game, leaving the quarterback situation wide open once again. Both he and Garoppolo practiced this week, but as usual, Belichick didn't reveal who is starting on Sunday until right before the game. For the second straight week, Brissett will start and Garoppolo will be inactive, meaning wide receiver Julian Edelman will serve as the backup QB.
The Patriots are more than capable of humming along until Brady comes back next week. LeGarrette Blount is producing as the workhorse running back, leading the league with 298 rushing yards in the first three games. Rob Gronkowski should be closer to full health after missing two games and being on a strict snap count last week. And the defense has been exceptional, with linebacker Jamie Collins emerging as an early Defensive Player of the Year contender.
After two games, the Bills looked dead in the water. They started 0-2 and fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and things were looking like a slow death march for Rex Ryan. However, the Bills rebounded to pull off the biggest surprise of Week 3, stomping the Arizona Cardinals, 33-18.
It was a vintage Rex Ryan performance in pretty much every way. The defense picked off Carson Palmer four times, LeSean McCoy chewed up the running game with 110 yards, and Tyrod Taylor did just enough at quarterback to not lose the game. Taylor threw for just 119 yards on 25 attempts and had no touchdowns, but the Bills likely won't mind as long as they're winning the game. Taylor also added 76 rushing yards on nine attempts.
Buffalo isn't totally out of the woods yet. Sammy Watkins was placed on injured reserve after his surgically repaired foot just couldn't get right, ruling him out for at least the next eight weeks. The Bills need Watkins because he's the one receiver on this team who adds a real field-stretching element to the passing game. The deep ball is Taylor's biggest strength, but he's not nearly as effective without Watkins on the field. His absence leaves a massive hole in the offense.
Rex Ryan is always at his most entertaining when he's preparing for a divisional rival and this week has been no different, with him impersonating a reporter to try getting some answers out of Edelman. However, his on-field results haven't been as rewarding -- the Patriots swept the Bills last year en route to yet another AFC East title. A Bills win here would get them to 2-2 and completely change the narrative of their season, but the Patriots won't be letting their foot off the gas pedal at home. Whatever the result, this game should be must-see television.
How to watch
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn
Online: Sunday Ticket