For about three quarters and change, the Buffalo Bills decided to make things kind of interesting at home against the Patriots. And then reality set in, with New England snuffing out the hope for a primetime divisional upset, waltzing away from the Bills 25-6 on Monday night. 

The Patriots were massive favorites (the line closed at New England -14) but a raucous Buffalo crowd inspired Derek Anderson and the Bills defense to a pretty impressive performance. The game was somehow both less close and closer than the final score indicated: New England was in control for almost the entire game and Buffalo had the ball late with a chance to do some damage before a pick six wrapped things up and gave the Pats a 19-point lead. 

New England only had one drive that was longer than 75 yards, which required a Chris Hogan push off to set up a James White punch in from the 1 for a short touchdown. 

The bottom line of this game? It was a have and have-not matchup. The Patriots are the cream of the crop and they're about to hit the cruise control portion of the season, having overcome a slow start, stacked some wins and moved to 6-2 with a large division lead. Buffalo is a team starting a 35-year-old Anderson under center because Josh Allen is injured and Nathan Peterman is addicted to throwing interceptions. Anderson was signed on Oct. 9. 

The Patriots move to 32-5 against the Bills since Belichick took over in New England, with an even more impressive 17-2 record in Buffalo.

Patriots running concerns

Playing a team like Buffalo, you can kind of lose sight of the Patriots problems. And they have one in terms of their backfield setup. With Sony Michel injured, the brunt of the carries fell to White and ... Cordarrelle Patterson? Patterson led the team in rushing attempts (10) and rushing yards (38) on a night when no one saw his involvement in the offense coming that way. Anyone who started Kenjon Barner in fantasy was treated to a two-carry, four-yard performance, just another in a long line of gut punches from the running back position from Bill Belichick. 

But the Michel thing is real: the Patriots are having to manufacture points with special teams and defense and haven't been able to really get the rushing attack revved up after Michel looked so dangerous for three weeks in a row as he began to emerge in his rookie season. 

Don't be surprised if the Patriots take their time getting Michel back. They can still win plenty of games without him, but the offense doesn't look the same when he's not out there. 

Brady blocks a dude

It's not often you see Tom Brady heavily involved in the run-blocking game, but he found himself on the wrong end of an end-around situation Monday night when a pitch play back to Julian Edelman led to Brady getting tossed in the air by Lorenzo Alexander as he "blocked" the Bills defensive player.

The Bills will HAPPILY trade first downs for free shots in the open field on the 41-year old Patriots quarterback, regardless of how pliable he might be.

Gordon starts for Pats anyway

We were under the impression Josh Gordon would not start for New England on Monday night over a discipline issue relating to him being late for a meeting. But when the game began, Gordon was out there with the starters. What happened? It's hard to say, honestly, because there was only one report about the situation and it's at least worth debating whether Belichick was up to some media shenanigans.

Gronk is good/two tough breaks

You can probably make the case that this catch should have been overturned -- Gronk didn't appear to get both feet in by the time he had control from what I saw. But the refs decided he did in fact have control. Either way, it was an incredible catch.

Again, you can easily argue it was a catch.

There was a more concerning situation from the refs against the Bills on this drive. Right before a Stephen Gostkowski field goal made it 12-9, Brady rolled out under pressure and threw the ball away. The Patriots were flagged for holding and the penalty was declined, but it was shocking they weren't also flagged for intentional grounding. That would have been a yardage penalty and a loss of down and put the Patriots in a bad spot to make a field goal. 

What's next?

The Patriots needed a slow-paced grinder in this game to get ready for next week: they're hosting the 3-3-1 Packers, who are getting a little desperate, on Sunday night in New England. That game should be FUN. Expect more points than we got in Buffalo. 

Buffalo doesn't catch a break here, having to play the Bears at home, which could see a matchup of the top two teams by DVOA from a defensive standpoint. Avert your eyes and take the under. 

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