NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady makes a point with official Danny Short during the Jets game on Sunday.

THE GOOD NEWS for the Buffalo Bills is that they are 3-0 on the young season.

Tempering that good news is that the three teams they’ve beaten — the Jets, Giants and Bengals — are a combined 1-8 and have a combined minus-97 points differential.

In other words, this 3-0 start is a bit hollow, right?

Now, for some really bad news for the Buffalo Bills: They have to host the Patriots Sunday.

New England has won seven straight games up there and Tom Brady’s 15 wins there since 2001 are the most by ANY quarterback. Yes, including Buffalo Bills quarterbacks.

Brady is 30-3 lifetime against the Bills.

Asked on WEEI if that’s his favorite place to play (we assume excluding Gillette), Brady said, “No, I love playing up there. It’s one of the great environments in NFL football.

“It’s an old stadium, but they get incredible support. We’ve played up there early (kickoff time), we’ve played up there late, we’ve played up there when they’ve not had great records, when they’ve had great records, and their fans are into it. They cheer. They love football.”

He then added: “It’s going to be a hell of a game.”

Is it?

The Pats are seven-point road favorites to make it 4-0 on this soft opening schedule. They haven’t allowed an offensive touchdown in four straight games, dating back to last season’s Super Bowl.

“(Josh Allen is) definitely improved and developed and he’ll be a very challenging player for us to defend this week,” said Bill Belichick.

The Bills are confident, with tackle Dion Dawkins saying, “We don’t care what they’ve done; they haven’t played us yet.”

Young gunslinger

Like most young quarterbacks, Allen grew up admiring and rooting for Brady.

Now, he’s trying to beat the old guy and the Patriots in what would be a huge statement game for the Bills.

“We understand what this game means to the fans and people around the league but in house we’re just trying to go 1-0 every week,” Allen said. “We know they prepare well and they’re 3-0 for a reason. They have one of the greatest to ever do it at their quarterback position and head coach. We have to be fundamentally sound. We gotta understand what we’re trying to do and key in on ways to get the job done Sunday.”

Despite his muff that gave the Jets a touchdown last week, Gunner Olszewski still has the confidence of his coach. “I think Gunner has good hands, and he’s handled the ball well for us,” Belichick said.

Like last year, Brady admires the work ethic of Josh Gordon. “He’s done a great job,” Brady said Wednesday. “He just puts his head down and comes to work. I think what he did last game was pretty spectacular in his own right to that number of plays that he ran. You know, other guys were going down. He was getting the ball on the reverse, he got the ball on the go routes, he got the ball, and he just kept coming back to the huddle. I kept going, “You good?” And he’s like, “I’m good,” and he just kept answering the bell.”

In the bad math department: Belichick on two players missing a game in the first three games for childbirth: “Must have been some post-Super Bowl celebrations ... we’re really pumping ‘em out.” The Super Bowl was in February. You do the math.

As far as going forward without fullback James Develin, at least until Game 12, Belichick says, “There’s nobody to replace James Develin, so we have to do a combination of other people or schemes.”

Not his job

Brady, talking to Jim Gray on Westwood One, addressed reports he was against the Patriots releasing Antonio Brown.

“I think there’s always reports and speculation about a lot of things that I have said or have not said or have been a part of,” Brady said. “The reality is I don’t make any personnel decisions. I don’t decide to sign players, I don’t decide to trade them, I don’t decide to release them, I don’t decide to draft them. I don’t get asked. I show up and I do my job. I’m an employee like everyone else.

“I’m gonna show up this week and do the best I can do as quarterback. Maybe one day I will be an owner and I can make all the decisions that I want, but I would probably have to play another 20 years in the NFL to be able to afford that.”

More Brown? Loved this line seen on Facebook the other day: “Pittsburgh, Oakland and New England have the same blood type: AB Negative.”

NFL owners, getting no traction on their 18-game season plan, are now proposing 17 games and reducing the number of preseason games.

“We’re looking at the overall structure of the season,” said Packers president Mark Murphy, a former defensive back now on the Labor Committee. “And quite honestly, our preseason is not very good … I would be very concerned about the health and safety aspects of adding two regular-season games. And so I think there’s a number of things we’re looking at. I think also … (is) the possibility of expanding the playoffs.”

Fond farewell?

The Red Sox’ Rick Porcello posted a win in his final 2019 start, finishing 13-12 with a 5.56 ERA. Not a very good year. Now, the future for the right-hander?

“From the bottom of my heart it’s been an absolute pleasure to wear this uniform and pitch for the Red Sox the last five years for Mr. (John) Henry and Mr. (Tom) Werner and all these guys,” Porcello said. “The coaching staff, all these players, it’s as good a group as you’re going to find.”

In his five years with the Red Sox, he is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in the regular season, 1-1 in five postseason outings. He has alternated bad years and good years but has always answered the bell, to the tune of 31.8 starts per season. That’s very durable, especially in the current game.

It’s uncertain what happens to him as he enters potential free agency. As I’ve said here before, I would give him the qualifying offer, which would mean one more year and then no draft pick attached to his signing with another team.

Hey, it’s not like there’s a load of young talent ready to take his place, right?

Positive work

David Backes, who spent the summer working with a skating instructor, gave the Bruins more to think about as the season approaches.

“It was a rude awakening Day One, and then Night One and Day Two of how sore I was when I was back to using muscles that I had either neglected or were stiffened up. It was necessary,” he said.

Wednesday night, Backes scored a goal while skating on an impressive line with Par Lindholm and Anders Bjork.

“I thought he was good, he was banging, he was physical,” Bruce Cassidy said. “Got to the net, created some loose puck situations with a good forecheck, so he had his legs. They seem to complement one another, that line. Sometimes it just happens.”

Cassidy said the Bruins will carry one extra forward and an extra defenseman when the Bruins open the regular season next week.

Finally, congratulations to my friend Jonny Miller of WBZ, who enters the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame at a Friday luncheon. I’m more than proud to be able to be there!


Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.