The Buffalo Bills, off to their first 3-0 start since 2011, don’t need to look at the NFL statistical rankings to know they face a big challenge Sunday against the New England Patriots.

They’re plenty familiar with the reputation of the defending Super Bowl champions’ defense.

“Watching them on film, they’re always sound fundamentally,” said Bills quarterback Josh Allen. “They understand what type of coverage they’re in. They’re very well disciplined by one of the greatest coaches of all time. We understand it’s no small task to go against these guys, no matter who you are.”

If the Bills want confirmation of how well the Patriots (3-0) are playing, the NFL statistics provide some answers. The New England defense:

Is the first in the Super Bowl era to not allow a touchdown in the first three games of the season.

Ranks No. 1 against both the run (36 yards a game) and the pass (162).

Has allowed just 13 percent conversions on third down. The NFL best for a full season in the last 30 years is 25 percent.

Has forced three-and-outs on 13 of 37 possessions (35 percent).

Some perspective, however, is required before declaring these Patriots the equal of the 1985 Chicago Bears.

New England’s first three opponents rank 32nd (the New York Jets), 31st (Miami) and 30th (Pittsburgh) on offense. Miami is averaging 45 rushing yards a game, the Jets 65 and Pittsburgh 64, each in the bottom five in the league.

Miami is undertaking what arguably is the most overt tanking experiment in NFL history. The Jets played quarterback Luke Falk against the Patriots and went 0 for 12 on third down. Eight of those were third-and-9 or worse situations.

The Patriots’ performance against Pittsburgh came before the injury to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and is hard to dismiss.

Nevertheless, a better indication of how dominant Coach Bill Belichick’s defense is will come Sunday against an improved Bills offense that ranks eighth in total yards, and fifth in rushing at 151 yards per game.

New England boasts one of the best secondaries in the NFL, an improved cast of linebackers and a deep, if not acclaimed, group of defensive linemen.

Each of the Patriots’ top four cornerbacks and top three safeties are back from last year.

“Coach Belichick and their defensive staff do a really good job with adjustments, with taking your best things away,” Bills Coach Sean McDermott said.

“Playing you in a unique way. Confusing quarterbacks, and so that’s, again the continuity where you know they’ve been around, they can do that.”

New England led the NFL last year in man-to-man coverage, playing a version of it on 57 percent of defensive snaps, according to the data analysis firm Sports Info Solutions.

The Bills’ receivers know they will need to win against tight coverage.

“They do certain things where they have hole players in there, and they kind of use that to help them out at times,” said receiver Cole Beasley, referring to a safety helping a cornerback on underneath coverage. “So my guy will have outside leverage and not let me win on anything outside. They kind of make the field shorter.

“You’ve got to beat that first guy before you can even worry about the hole player,” Beasley said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. But as a receiver, you look forward to it, it’s kind of a me vs. you mentality, a little bit.”

The Patriots’ defensive line likes to clog gaps in the run game, and their defensive ends and outside linebackers always have been stout in setting the edge, restricting teams’ ability to run outside.

Bills tight end Lee Smith, who spent the 2011 summer with the Patriots, said it’s all about assignment football.

“I’ve been in that locker room,” Smith said. “I understand how Coach Belichick reacts when you don’t do your job. That’s something that no one wants, believe me. He’s not worried about anybody’s feelings.”

“The standard doesn’t change. We’re all brothers in this league, regardless of the team we play for. We all talk. Everybody knows what goes on in other buildings. The standard is the standard there. Their defensive ends are going to do their job, whatever the defense calls for.”

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