Bill Belichick noticed how often the Buffalo Bills used odd-looking defensive fronts in their opener.
Rex Ryan's defense figures to only get stronger this weekend with star defensive tackle Marcell Dareus ready for his season debut, and looking to make life miserable for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
These coaches renew their rivalry and meet for the 14th time Sunday in Buffalo, where Ryan's new team has made its disdain for the Patriots crystal clear in the buildup to this contest.
Ryan's debut as Bills coach was a success as his defense limited Indianapolis' Andrew Luck to the fourth-worst Week 1 passer rating of 63.6 in a 27-14 home victory last Sunday. Buffalo sacked Luck twice, using a variety of schemes in which different pre-snap alignments were employed, and Bills defensive backs Aaron Williams and Ronald Darby notched interceptions.
Belichick went 9-4 against Ryan during the latter's time with the New York Jets. Ryan used similar defensive schemes then, but not to the extent he showed last week.
"He's done it in the past, but he's done quite a bit of it this year, particularly in the Indianapolis game where he has defensive linemen kind of on a chalkboard lined up at weak safety if you will," Belichick said. "There are some unusual looks there."
Ryan now has another weapon to employ in Dareus, who is back after serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. The two-time Pro Bowler had a career-best 10 sacks last year and will play for the first time since signing a six-year, $108 million contract extension.
''Happy to be back, of course, and knowing that Brady's going to be out there just gives it a little bit more fire,'' Dareus said.
Dareus and the Bills haven't been shy about voicing their dislike of a club that has beaten Buffalo in 21 of the last 23 meetings. One of the Bills' victories was a meaningless 17-9 road win Dec. 28 in which the Patriots rested numerous players, having clinched the top seed in the AFC. Brady saw limited action and Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman sat out.
"I don't like New England so it's definitely personal for me," Williams said. "Me saying that may run a lot of stories but that's just the way I feel personally. They're a great football team, don't get that twisted at all."
Dareus echoed that thought.
"Don't nobody like the Patriots," he said. "Let's just be honest about it now. Put it out there."
Brady went 25 of 32 for 288 yards and four touchdowns - three to Gronkowski - in last Thursday's 28-21 home win over Pittsburgh. Former Bills tight end Scott Chandler had the other TD reception as he returns to face Buffalo for the first time.
The Patriots will get running back LeGarrette Blount back from a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Dion Lewis carried 15 times for 69 yards last week.
Buffalo will look to attack a New England offensive line that used three rookies at times last week in center David Andrews and guards Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason. Jackson and Mason were fourth-round picks while the undrafted Andrews was solid in his debut in place of Bryan Stork, who has been placed on injured reserve.
Ryan's Jets teams were known for their emphasis on running the ball. The Bills rushed for 147 yards last weekend, though LeSean McCoy was bottled up and managed 41 on 17 carries in his Buffalo debut.
McCoy practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day Friday due to tightness in the left hamstring. The running back is listed as questionable and Ryan remains ''cautiously optimistic'' about McCoy's chances of playing.
Tyrod Taylor went 14 of 19 for 195 yards and a TD in his first career start. His passer rating of 123.8 was the NFL's fourth-best mark in Week 1; Brady was second at 143.8.
Taylor threw a 51-yard touchdown to Percy Harvin, who had five catches for 79 yards.
"They do a great job with the running game and then the play action and some of their deep passes set up off of that, where if you start creeping up and you try to be over aggressive to stop the run they can get behind you like they did against Indianapolis with Harvin," Belichick said.
The status of Corey Graham in uncertain after the veteran safety left the opener with a possible concussion on the first play from scrimmage.
Ryan credited the home crowd for creating a difficult environment for Luck last week. He expects an even feistier atmosphere for Brady, who is 23-3 against Buffalo.
''I can't wait to see what our fans are going to be like when you have the hated Patriots, I mean, this kind of rival coming in,'' Ryan said.