1. Brady should have had a fifth touchdown pass, but a wide open James White dropped a pass on the doorstep of the end zone in the middle of the fourth quarter. Even with four games lost to suspension, Brady is going force his way into the MVP discussion by outplaying every other quarterback in the league — with room to spare. He’s on pace for the greatest age-39 season in NFL history, leading Bills coach Rex Ryan to concede at midweek, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him better.”
His pass protection hasn’t been great, but Brady is compensating with excellent pocket movement while spreading the ball around to a half-dozen receivers until an unstoppable Rob Gronkowski inevitably blows the game wide open with a flurry of big plays. Through four games, Brady is completing 73.1 percent of his passes at 9.84 yards per attempt for a cool 133.9 passer rating — career-best marks across the board.
2. LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins are Buffalo’s franchise players. When they are both missing from the lineup, Tyrod Taylor simply doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with Brady’s full arsenal. It didn’t help that Taylor was off target most of the afternoon, turning in his worst passing performance of the season. With McCoy and NFL sack leader Lorenzo Alexander each nursing hamstring injuries leading up to next week’s tough matchup at Seattle, the Bills are in danger of falling below .500 in a tight AFC wild-card race.
3. Gronkowski scored his 69th career touchdown on a perfectly-placed Brady pass, breaking Stanley Morgan’s long-standing franchise record. Six and a half seasons into a mould-breaking Hall of Fame career, Gronkowski already ranks third behind only Tony Gonzalez (111) and Antonio Gates (106) for touchdowns among tight ends. Leading the NFL in yards per reception this season, the perennial All Pro is playing better than ever. He’s averaging 118.3 yards over the past four weeks — the most productive month-long stretch of his career.
4. If the Patriots have a weakness, it’s a lack of pass rush. They have managed just four sacks over the last three games. After impressing in September, the edge rushing duo of Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long have slowed to a crawl in October.
5. Former Buffalo wideout Chris Hogan has been a major upgrade on Brandon LaFell outside the numbers and down the field. He has outplayed nominal No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman, who hasn’t been as elusive with the ball in his hands coming off of offseason foot surgery. Entering the bye week, though, Edelman provided reason to believe he’s recapturing early 2015 form with an athletic, tackle-breaking 12-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.
6. LeGarrette Blount is on pace for 18 touchdowns this season. His previous single-season career high was seven, back in 2013.