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PFF’s Best and Worst Patriots Performances in Buffalo



Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, left, is sacked by New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. (91) during the first half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. Wise was the highest ranked PFF player for the Patriots in the game. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes )

The New England Patriots got out to a quick lead in Buffalo when Jalen Reagor returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. After that incredible start, four New England turnovers resulted in 20 straight points for the Bills. It was a hole the Patriots were never able to climb out of, losing 27-21.

Pro Football Focus grades every player in all NFL games. This is a look at the highest and lowest graded New England Patriots players against the Buffalo Bills.

PFF Grading System

Before getting into the best and worst Patriots performances from Sunday, a quick review of what the numbers represent. Their are five possible tiers a grade places a player in:

  • 100-90 = Elite
  • 89-85 = Pro Bowler
  • 84-70 = Starter
  • 69-60 = Backup
  • 59-0 = Replaceable

Best of Week 17

DE – Deatrich Wise, Jr. (86.2). Wise posted his highest PFF grade of the season (80.0) in Week 16 vs. Denver. The following week against Buffalo he surpassed it. Wise only played 21 snaps. On his nine passing downs, he registered New England’s only sack, and added two hurries. He also caused Josh Allen to fumble on his sack, though Buffalo recovered. This led to a pass rush grade of 91.1 for Wise. Clearly the captain has not thrown in the towel as he is playing his best football of the season.

DE – Keion White (83.6). White received his highest PFF grade since Week 3. He had five tackles (four solo), three stops, and two pressures. It has been a disappointing season for the rookie at times (24 tackles, 1.0 sack) but he is showing glimpses of why the future still looks bright for White.

RG – Sidy Sow (82.6). The rookie followed up two of his lowest-graded games of the season with two of his highest. It seems safe to pencil in Sow as New England Patriots starter at right guard in 2024 at this point. He had the highest pass blocking grade and second-highest run blocking grade against Buffalo. He allowed just one hurry (no QB hits or sacks) in 31 pass blocking opportunities against the Bills.

QB – Bailey Zappe (82.2). Surprised to see Zappe with such a high grade? Honestly, me too. Zappe completed 16-of-26 passes vs Buffalo, for 209 yards. He had no touchdowns and three interceptions. He did rush five times for 37 yards and a touchdown, which aided his overall grade. Based on the emphasis of ball security in New England, it is safe to assume Bill Belichick didn’t give his QB quite so high of a mark on Sunday.

ST – Matthew Slater (80.0). The captain played all 25 special teams downs. He finished with two tackles (one solo) and no missed tackles. He was also part of the crew that sprang Jalen Reagor for his kickoff return touchdown to open the game. It was easily Matthew Slater’s highest graded game of the season.

Honorable Mention: DT Christian Barmore, RT Mike Onwenu, ST Cody Davis, WR DeMario Douglas, CB Jonathan Jones, TE Mike Gesicki, LG Atonio Mafi

Worst of Week 16

TE – Pharaoh Brown (37.7). Brown was only targeted once, gaining five yards. He was solid on run blocking, but his pass blocking grade struggled. He allowed two pressures on just five snaps staying in to help with pass blocking. With Hunter Henry out again, Brown was forced to take on a bigger role in the New England Patriots offense. It appears PFF thought Brown struggled with added responsibility.

LB – Josh Uche (42.1). New England’s linebackers struggled against Buffalo, with Uche receiving the lowest grade among the group. He assisted on two tackles. Uche did not provide help with the pass rush against Josh Allen. He registered only one hurry on the afternoon.

LB – Ja’Whaun Bentley (47.7). Bentley has been solid this season for New England. However, two of his three lowest grades for the season have come in the past two games. He had five tackles (three solo) and one hurry. Buffalo completed all three passes with Bentley has the primary defender in coverage. They picked up 38 yards on the completions.

LB – Anfernee Jennings (49.1). Another linebacker who struggled to make a difference against Buffalo. After a run of impressive play by Jennings, this is is second straight game on the bottom of the PFF grades. He recorded five tackles (four solo) but also had three missed tackles. He added just one hurry in pass rush. His grade is clearly negatively affected by the missed tackles.

ST – Adrian Phillips (51.7). Phillips played in 21 of 25 special teams snaps. He didn’t show up at all in the boxscore, for better or worse. Phillips had no tackles, no missed tackles, and no penalties. It is tough to say why his grade was so low, but that is where PFF placed the special teamer this week.

Dishonorable Mention: ST Chris Board, ST Mack Wilson Sr., LB Mack Wilson St., DB Kyle Dugger