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5 things you have to know about Bills 10.06.14 at 12:17 pm ET
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Kyle Orton won his first start with the Bills Sunday (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Kyle Orton won his first start with the Bills on Sunday. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Here are five things you have to know about the Bills, who will be hosting the Patriots this Sunday in upstate New York with first place in the AFC East on the line.

1. They’€™re feeling pretty good about themselves

Buffalo is 3-2 after five games, and off to their best start since 2011, when they won five of their first seven. There’€™s every reason for the Bills to be feeling good, from the fact that Sunday’€™s game against the Patriots will mark the first contest under new ownership, to the recent play of the defense, to the fact that they just went into Detroit and thanks in large part to a late missed field goal, shocked the Lions (and carried off former Detroit coach and new Buffalo DC Jim Schwartz). Expect them to use this contest against the Patriots as a measuring stick game, with the idea that if they are able to come out with a win, they will have truly arrived in the chase for the AFC East title.

2. They have a good defense

The Bills have allowed 89 points through their first five games of the season, and that 17.8 points per game average is fifth in the league. On Sunday against Detroit, Buffalo had six sacks in a road victory for the first time in eight years, with Marcell Dareus coming away with a career-best three sacks while dislodging a fumble. Jerry Hughes added a pair of sacks in the win. The Bills were second in the league last year with 57 sacks, and through five games, they’€™re tied for the league lead with 17.

3. They are particularly stout against the run

If the numbers hold up, don’€™t expect New England to run with the same ability it showed in Sunday’€™s thunderous win over the Bengals. The Bills have the best run defense in the league, having allowed an average of just 71 yards per game over their first five contests. No team has cracked the 100-yard barrier on the ground this season against Buffalo, with Chicago (86), Miami (80), San Diego (83), Houston (37) and Detroit (69) all trying and failing to break through the century mark against the Bills. (Buffalo held Houston’€™s running backs to 15 yards on 17 carries.) One interesting note: The versatile Matt Forte of the Bears had the best outing of the year against Buffalo with 17 carries for 82 yards. Forte added eight catches for 87 yards in his game, and his stat line makes a pretty good argument that the sort of back who might succeed best against the Bills is a multidimensional threat like Shane Vereen as opposed to a traditional between-the-tackles guy like Stevan Ridley.

4. They are good when it comes to takeaway ratio

Through the first five games of the season, the Bills are at plus-six, tied for best in the league with a handful of teams (including the Patriots) for the top spot in the NFL. Buffalo has 10 takeaways on the season (six interceptions — tied for third in the league — and four fumble recoveries) and four giveaways (four picks). They’€™re only one of four teams in the league to not have any fumbles to this point in the year. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin leads the team with a pair of picks, while Kyle Williams, Stephon Gilmore, Corey Graham and Nigel Bradham all have one each.

5. New quarterback Kyle Orton adds a bit of a wild card element to what would otherwise be a fairly familiar divisional matchup

Orton, who took over the Bills on Sunday for the beleaguered EJ Manuel, is a journeyman who came out of semi-retirement to take over the Buffalo offense. In his first start of the year against the Lions, he went an impressive 30-for-43 for 308 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. (He became only the third quarterback to throw for 300 yards in his Bills debut.) The 31-year-old Orton, a 6-foot-4, 226-pounder who has also played for the Bears, Broncos, Chiefs and Cowboys, displayed a nice knack for running the offense in his first start, connecting with 10 different pass catchers and helping the offense pile up 343 net yards in the road victory. One quick note on Orton: The Patriots could have a small measure of familiarity with the quarterback based on his previous working relationship with Josh McDaniels. The two spent the 2009 and most of the 2010 seasons together in Denver before McDaniels was fired as head coach on Dec. 6, 2010. Orton’€™s one career start against the Patriots came when he was with Denver, and he turned in one of the finest games of his career, going 35-for-48 for 330 yards, two touchdowns and one pick in a 20-17 overtime win over New England on Oct. 11, 2009. The win was the unquestioned high point of McDaniels’€™ coaching career — it took him to 5-0 on the season. He would be fired just over a year later.

Read More: Jerry Hughes, Jim Schwartz, Josh McDaniels, kyle orton
Tom Brady on D&C: Reports of issues with coaches not true, ‘I’ve always had input on what we do’ at 10:54 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday night’s 43-17 rout of the Bengals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots rebounded from last Monday’s humiliating loss to the Chiefs and tuned out all the criticism to put together a bounceback performance against the previously undefeated Bengals.

“There’s a lot of people outside of our locker room that never want to really see the Patriots win or do well. Certainly our opponents in the AFC East,” Brady said. “The more you eliminate distractions and eliminate listening to what people may say or think about you, the more you can focus on what you’re able to do. It was a really tough loss for us last week, we understand that it was one game and we didn’t play well and we can perform a lot better than we did, and we went out there and did it last night, which was really great to see, ’cause we’re a team that has a lot of mental toughness and a lot of heart. I’m glad that we went out and played our best game of the year so far.

“It’s a great step, it’s just a building block, it’s one game in a long season. We’ve got a huge one this week against Buffalo. So we’ve got to bring the same attitude, like we do every week, really an urgency to get better, make improvements, and then go out there and let it rip next Sunday.”

There was an ESPN report that there was “tension” between Brady and the coaches, and the quarterback’s input in game plans had been “significantly diminished.” Brady said that’s not the case.

“I’ve always had input on what we do,” he said. “I think that’s what’s been so great for me being here, is I’ve always had the opportunity to say how I feel and what I think. Those are very personal discussions I have with my coaches. They have so much respect for me, I have so much respect for them. I don’t feel that way, I would never say that way. It’s nice to for me to have an opportunity when you hear from my voice how I really feel. I feel there’s no place I’d rather play. Certainly there’s no coach I’d ever want to play for than coach [Bill] Belichick. My relationship with the offensive coaches is great. I respect them way more than they even know for the work that they put in to try to get us players ready to play.

“I think we’ve had a good thing going for a long time. I can see why people could try to be divisive when things aren’t going well. That’s not what our team’s always been about.The problems we’ve experienced this year have nothing to do with anything that’s been written or said. I try to tell you guys it’s about our execution and what us players need to do.

“Our coaches put us in a great position to win every week. And the way that they prepare, there’s nobody that has more respect for them than me. And certainly, if I ever had an issue with anybody in our organization, then how we deal with it as men is we go talk to each other about it. It’s unfortunate when things get said because I said after the game there’s very personal relationships that I have that you have years and years of trust and support with. And then someone other than myself says something and it gets reported as if it’s a fact. But there’s certainly no truth to it, to the way that I feel. And they know the way that I feel about them. It’s actually a great opportunity for me to say that from my own voice of how much I respect and love the job that they do for us players, because I don’t think there’s a better staff in the league that puts us into to position to win each week as players.”

Added Brady: “Absolutely not [true]. I’ve always had input. There’s not one play that’s ever been called in a game that I’ve said, ‘Look, I don’t want to run that play.’ That’s not the way it works. I think there’s always a great working relationship that I’ve had certainly when Charlie [Weis] was here, when Josh [McDaniels] was here the first time, when Billy [O'Brien] was calling plays, when Josh was calling plays this time. And we talk all the time. I’ve always had the ability to do those things. That’s what makes going to work every day challenging ’cause there’s always so much to learn and to work with people that you trust and respect — and they’re a hell of a lot smarter than me — that usually brings out the best in me. As I said, I’m very lucky to have those guys.”

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Read More: Josh McDaniels, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady
Aaron Dobson grateful that Bill Belichick has his back: ‘It wasn’t awkward at all’ 10.03.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Just an hour after Bill Belichick released his statement Friday that reports of a rift between receiver Aaron Dobson and offensive coordinator were “completely false,” Dobson came out and went even further.

“We actually have a great relationship, to tell you the truth,” Dobson said of his work with McDaniels. “It’s always frustrating but I’m just doing what I can do and control what I can control and take advantage of the opportunities I’m getting.”

Dobson says his frustration stems from not being able to get on the field and stay healthy to help the team as opposed to a reported flare-up between he and his coach.

“I’m feeling like I’m doing better,” said Dobson, who has been active just once in the first four games of the season, including inactive in the last two. “I’m just trying to control what I can control and just do what I can during practice, and when I get an opportunity, do what I can do.”

“It wasn’t awkward for me at all. It was a rumor. So, I mean I have no reason to feel awkward with my coaches anyway. I really didn’t realize the story got so big until after practice [Thursday]. I was at work all day so, I didn’t really realize. But I’m good, not awkward at all.”

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Josh McDaniels
Bill Belichick issues statement clearing Aaron Dobson: The report is ‘completely false’ at 12:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is clearing Aaron Dobson completely of any wrongdoing with his offensive coordinator.

“In my year and a half with Aaron Dobson, he has always been respectful to me and to the rest of the coaching staff. He has never once been argumentative or confrontational. The suggestion and reporting that his playing time was in any way the result of a ‘€˜loud disagreement’€™ with a coach is completely false.”

Belichick issued the statement Friday afternoon after promising to make a comment during his Friday morning press conference when asked about the reported flare-up between Dobson and Josh McDaniels.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots
Report: Aaron Dobson inactive last 2 games for ‘mouthing off’ to Josh McDaniels 10.01.14 at 9:23 pm ET
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There was some question as to why the Patriots only dressed three wide receivers (Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell) in Monday’s 41-14 loss to the Chiefs, but now we may know why.

According to Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, Aaron Dobson was inactive for the last two games because he “mouthed off” to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Dobson was a healthy inactive for Week 1 against the Dolphins, but he did miss much of the preseason recovering from foot surgery. The 2013 second-round pick played Week 2 in Minnesota catching one pass for 13 yards on two targets and then was a healthy inactive each of the last two weeks.

As a rookie the 6-foot-3 receiver caught 37 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns, playing in 12 games.

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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Josh McDaniels,
Stuck in the mud: Patriots not getting off to fast starts at 11:40 am ET
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Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions of games this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions of games this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — These Patriots are slow starters – and so far this season — they have had a lot of trouble getting up to speed.

Through the first four games, the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions and have allowed their opponent to score first in each of the four games.

Offensively on first drives the Patriots have ran three running plays totaling four yards and quarterback Tom Brady is 3-for-8 with 12 yards passing. Defensively, it has allowed 152 yards and two touchdowns on first drives — an average of 38 yards per drive, compared to just four yards per drive on offense.

“We have a high standard here, and we should,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “It’s a very competitive league, obviously, and we need to do a better job on offense regardless of the situation or circumstances. [Whoever] is out there we have faith and confidence in. Like I said, we can coach better and certainly need to. And we can play better. I think every year is a process that you go through, and I don’t think you’re really ever where you’re going to be when you start the year, but I think the key thing for us is we’ve got to improve each week.”

Fast starts are something the Patriots have been notorious for over the years, especially defensively. On opening drives last season the Patriots allowed just one touchdown — they’ve allowed two in the first four weeks of this season. Offensively they had just five three-and-outs on opening drives — one shy of that through four games this season.

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Read More: Josh McDaniels, Patriots offense, Tom Brady,
Bill Belichick ramping up for another pressure-packed attack from Mike Zimmer 09.09.14 at 6:48 pm ET
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Mike ZImmer (left) will again have his eyes on Tom Brady this weekend. (John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Mike ZImmer (left) will again have his eyes on Tom Brady this weekend. (John Grieshop/Getty Images)

If there’s one silver lining of Sunday’s blitzkrieg of the Patriots offensive line, especially in the second half, it’s that the Patriots will likely see more of the same this week in Minnesota and have another chance to prove that they can handle the pressure.

As Bill Belichick pointed out Tuesday, new Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle worked together for Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati for four seasons (2008-11) when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and Coyle was the defensive backs coach.

There, Zimmer and Coyle came up with a defensive scheme that was considered one of the most aggressive in the NFL, using heavy pressure packages, including blitzes, along with building a bruising defensive front that could bring pressure on its own.

Move the quarterback off the spot in the pocket and make him uncomfortable. In 2009, it produced a division championship. In 2011, the Bengals with a new quarterback in Andy Dalton, but the Zimmer-Coyle defense still in place, went back to the playoffs as a wild card.

Now, Zimmer is in charge of the entire Vikings program and he brings with him another aggressive approach, and a defensive that generated an NFL-leading five sacks in Week 1, led by two from defensive end Everson Griffen.

“I’€™d say their defense looks quite a bit like the Cincinnati defense,” Belichick said. “I think there’€™s quite a bit of carryover from what they did in Cincinnati, especially when you get to their sub third-down packages. Yeah, I think there’€™s quite a bit of carryover.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Josh McDaniels, Mike Zimmer
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