Patriots vs Bills: Roundtable

Patriots vs Bills Roundtable

The frisky Bills look to provide the Patriots with some stiff competition.

During the days leading up to the suddenly invigorating Patriots vs Bills game, NEPD Staff Writer Doug Kyed and Matthew Elder of BuffaloBillsDraft.com will be jawing back and forth on what may prove to be a heck of a matchup.

Join the conversation after the jump.



Doug:

Big game this week for your Bills. I think this game presents some pretty interesting match ups for both teams. We’ve also each got some interesting injuries to sift through on both teams before 1pm on Sunday. Aaron Hernandez is almost certainly out, while Steve Johnson is battling his groin injury. I expect Johnson to play, but I’m not gonna lie, I did just trade him in a fantasy league I’m in (Henne and Johnson for Fitzpatrick and Santonio). After covering Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson in weeks 1 and 2, and injured Stevie might be a walk in the part for Devin McCourty. I also like the idea of Leigh Bodden covering David Nelson in the slot. For once the bigger corner will be covering the bigger receiver.

One thing I’ve very worried about is the combination of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Pats have had trouble against speedy running backs ever since the switch over to 4-3. Granted, our linebackers are getting healthier, but Jackson always seems to come up big against New England. If the Patriots stay with four down lineman when they’re playing in a nickel or dime, I could see a big game for the NFL’s leading rusher. After Patrick Chung came down and locked in on Antonio Gates last week, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Patriots use the three safety set some more this weekend with Chung locking down the run game as a rover.

What do you think? Think the Bills WRs will be able to get open against the Pats secondary? Will the Bills secondary be able to stop any of the Patriots weapons in the passing game? Will the Pats be able to pressure the QB better than they did against the Chargers rushing only four?

Matt:

I think the injury to Steve Johnson is a legitimate concern for Bills nation heading into this weekend but over the past few weeks we have had a couple of other WR’s step up who can’t be overlooked in Donald Jones, David Nelson (who you mention), and TE Scott Chandler. While I think Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson are two of the league’s best WR’s, I don’t think that guarding Steve Johnson will be a walk in the park for Devin McCourty, what Johnson lacks in size compares to Jackson and Marshall he makes up for in quickness and toughness. Johnson plays WR as if he is 6’4, 225, he’s strong off the line, explodes in and out of his routes and is not afraid to mix it up if McCourty wants to try and press. He’s a fiery player and if McCourty wants to play physical he needs to be prepared to get popped right back from Johnson. If McCourty overlooks Johnson then he could be in for a long day. That being said I think it will be a fantastic matchup of two young and emerging stars in the league.

I think Bodden v. Nelson is another intriguing matchup because the of the size you mention. Bodden is a very good cover corner and with Nelson not being the most athletic receiver it may be tough for him to shake Bodden. The one thing I can say about Nelson is that he is such an effective and aware route runner. He runs very precise routes and if New England goes into a zone coverage scheme he is very adept at finding soft spots in the zone and sitting down.

I think another place to talk about is what Buffalo is going to do in the slot now that Roscoe Parrish is out for the year and I know that they plan to use RB CJ Spiller some in that position, which will create matchup problems for Pats DB’s and may force them to use more dime looks if the Bills go four wide with Spiller as one of the wideouts. This will allow Buffalo to put Fred Jackson in the backfield at the same as CJ Spiller is on the field and give Chan Gailey a dangerous variety of running and passing plays that the Pats D hasn’t seen yet and will have to try and account for.

The Pats passing game as a whole should be able to light up a Bills secondary that is far below average. The Bills failed to contain rookie Denarius Moore last weekend despite using bracket coverage, so I can’t even begin to imagine what WR’s the caliber of Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Chad Ochocinco will be able to do. The issue for the Bills though is that their pass coverage is not the only issue, they have also really struggled to generate any kind of pressure on the QB and if you give Brady time he will destroy you. If the Bills can’t rely on players like Shawne Merriman to get pressure it could be a long day in Orchard Park.

As far as stopping the pass rush of the Patriots, the Bills have actually done a very good job stopping two accomplished pass rushers in Richard Seymour and Tamba Hali in consecutive weeks so I’m not as worried as I once was about the Patriots defensive line. I expect our young line to continue to get better on a weekly basis though the loss of starting RG Kraig Urbik does provide some worry. I expect the Pats will be able to get some heat on Fitzpatrick but I don’t feel like it’s going to be a consistent all day occurrence.

What has been the one thing you’re still waiting to see as Pats fan this season? Do the Pats have enough secondary depth to cover all the Bills WR’s when they go 5 wide? Who or what scares you the most about this game?

Doug:

I agree that the match up between Stevie Johnson and Devin McCourty will be a fun one to watch. I definitely wasn’t trying to diminish Johnson’s skills by any means by saying it would be a walk in the park for McCourty, I just think Johnson is a fairer match up for McCourty one on one than Marshall or VJax were.

Scott Chandler will be an interesting match up for the Patriots. I’ve seen a lot of Pats writers say they see Dane Fletcher shadowing Fred Jackson with Chung covering Chandler. I’d say it’s far more likely that a linebacker covers Chandler while Chung shadows Jackson. Chung was extremely effective in containing Reggie Bush in week 1 and I think if it’s a more concentrated effort, he could do the same to Jackson. I’m not too afraid of Chandler outside the red zone to be honest. He’s a big target, but he doesn’t have great speed and he hasn’t been getting enough snaps to worry about shadowing him with one player.

The thought of CJ Spiller running routes in the slot is a little scary to me. I think at that point, Bodden would be covering Spiller. Bodden could get physical with Spiller at the line, but Spiller’s speed and quickness is a little intimidating. In that scenario, Ras-I Dowling would probably cover Nelson (I like that matchup) but if they went four wide that would leave Kyle Arrington or a safety on Donald Jones, which would be a mismatch.

We saw three safety sets about half of all defensive snaps against the Chargers. In my scenario with Chung concentrating on Jackson, plus the Bills size at wide receiver that might be a good look again this week. If the Bills go five wide though, I’ve got to hope that Ras-I(sland) is healthy. I think there’s a reason we haven’t seen much of Antwaun Molden yet. He might be necessary against the Bills though. I don’t remember Dowling getting thrown to a single time before he left with the groin injury and he was extremely impressive against the Dolphins. There’s a reason Belichick started him in week 1, but there are those nagging injuries that keep sticking with him. If he stays healthy this season, it could be the difference between an above average defense and a great defense.

As a Pats fan, I’m still waiting for the defensive line to show their depth and skill. They showed up huge in the first two preseason games, but they haven’t been nearly as impressive since. Belichick was showing some very interesting looks on defense in those games, most notably with Mayo blitzing up the middle. Maybe BB hasn’t felt the need to go to those looks yet, but I think this defense on paper is a lot better than they’ve been showing in games. Haynesworth was getting beat badly by the San Diego offensive line and with his talent, he shouldn’t be. Belichick is doing a nice job of rotating guys in and out, so there’s no reason for Haynesworth to be getting fatigued or cramping like he was on Sunday.

What worries me the most is Fred Jackson. The Patriots have had such a hard time stopping running backs that can cut to the outside. Unless we have a guy like Chung, Spikes or Fletcher specifically containing him, it could be a very long day. Spiller’s another guy I worry about, more out of the backfield than in the slot. If the Dolphins had been smart and stopped trying to run Bush up the middle, I really believe he could have kept running to the outside for 5-9 yard runs. If the Patriots can’t get pressure on Fitzpatrick and can’t stop Jackson and Spiller, we could lose this game.

As a Bills fan, you’ve got to be pretty psyched about the start the team has had, how important do you think this game is to keep that momentum going? Which player or unit would you like to see have a breakout game? If the Pats decide to test their rush attack and ram the ball down the Bills throats, will the Bills d-line and linebackers be able to stop a fresh Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Ridley and Vereen?

Matt:

Bills Nation and myself included are beyond psyched with how this season has started out. We went into Week 1 into a game that we knew would be a great barometer for us, and came away with a statement style victory on the road. Last week we felt good about ourselves and maybe came out a little over confident, but at halftime our coaching staff got the focus back in our players and we had probably the greatest comeback of this young season so far. Let’s be clear though Bills nation is still not yet in full ‘Billeive” mode quite yet. We all remember starting 4-0 a few years ago just to have the season completely crumble in front of us. When you have a fanbase that has suffered through more than a decade of losing its going to take more than just two wins to get them fully buying into a team that quite honestly hasn’t earned anybody’s trust.

In terms of what this game means it’s simple, if the Bills win this will sell the city and sell the fanbase on this season. Beating the Patriots has become bigger to some fans then beating the Dolphins (though I always prefer to beat the fish), so this victory would be huge in that regard. On the other hand a loss doesn’t do much to hurt the momentum of this team. This isn’t a game we are supposed to win, I think they only thing that will hurt the teams momentum is if they fail to show up and get the doors blown off of them at home. If they keep it competitive then the fan base will be happy win or lose.

There are two places I know Im waiting to see step up this year, the first is with a man we’ve already mentioned a few times in CJ Spiller. I was a huge fan of drafting him last year and actually predicted he would be the pick over a week out from the draft. So far his career has been kept on a tight leash but with his good performance last week and Parrish’s injury it may be finally time to let him run free. He gave the Patriots fits last year and I hope it happens again.

Secondly Im looking at our front 7 to step it up. They’ve been pretty good so far but far from stellar. They have been much better in run defense thus far and have struggled to generate any kind of a pass rush. Surprisingly enough even with the addition of Marcel Dareus, NT Kyle Williams has not had anywhere near the same early season success that he had last year. In our 34 base set, Williams absolutely must do more. Behind them are a veteran crew of LB’s who are still working out some chemistry kinks but are all very reliable players. Even Chris Kelsay seems to have stepped up his game and almost any Bills fan would of told you that Kelsay was a bum coming into this season.

The Bills run D has actually been pretty stout so far this season, the DL has done a good job of holding up the point of attack and occupying blockers which has allowed our LB’s to stay clean and make plays. The improvement at ILB has been very noticeable as Nick Barnett is playing with his typical downhill style and really attacking the line of scrimmage. The Bills only allowed 98 rushing yards to Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster in Week 1, and then gave up only 95 yards last week to Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. The one place I think the Bills are susceptible though is to outside runs, they don’t have the necessary athleticism and speed at LB to cover the whole field v. speedier backs and we have struggled in preventing teams from turning the corner on us so far.

The Pats are on quite an impressive streak of scoring 30+ points per game, do you expect that to continue this weekend? Tom Brady has been rather incredible this season what is he doing differently, if anything, and would you say these early season results are indicative of him putting together a “special” season? How big was last week’s win over the Chargers?

Doug:

Despite being division rivals, I’m happy for your fan base. The Bills deserve to make the playoffs… and then lose to the Patriots. I’m being kind, but not that kind.

I’m actually surprised that you supported the Spiller pick. I thought Jackson still had a couple good years left in him, and third down/change of pace backs typically don’t merit a first round pick. Not because they’re not important, but more so because you can typically find those types of players in later rounds. Of course, if Spiller does become a special every down type back, the pick will look fine. That being said, it was a head-scratcher for me at the time.

On to the Patriots, I do expect the 30+ point streak to continue. That’s nothing against the Bills and in fact, might be more of a compliment to Buffalo than anything. I think the game will be a shoot out and I think the Bills will be able to put some points up against the Pats. All defenses seem to be struggling early in the season, so with points up everywhere, they’re certainly going to be up in New England. As selfish and possibly naive as this sounds, I expect the Patriots to win in the regular season at this point. That doesn’t make the losses any less painful or the wins any more joyous, but I know what we have here. As long as Tom Brady is on top of his game, this team will win some games.

Speaking of Brady, I’ll move onto the next question. If Aaron Hernandez misses two weeks or less, I think Brady has a very good shot of breaking Dan Marino’s passing yards record. The no-huddle seems downright unstoppable early in the season. Against Buffalo and Oakland Brady should continue to put up crazy numbers, but after that when the teams get tougher and the defenses get stronger he’ll need that core no-huddle offense to keep it up. I feel about Brady the same way I feel about my dog. My dog is 12 years old and as he gets older, I learn to appreciate him more. I know that unfortunately he won’t be around forever, so while he’s still active and energetic I’ll take advantage of that, go out and play with him, buy him treats and appreciate him. I realized that Brady was getting old when Marc Bulger retired actually. Bulger came in with the same draft class as Brady and it didn’t faze me when he retired. I thought of Bulger as an old player. Obviously Brady’s makeup and talent level is more sustainable than most players, but I’ve got to appreciate him while I still can. That being said, every Brady season is a special season.

Going back to what I said earlier about expecting wins, that plays into how I felt about the Chargers game. I almost felt like we squeaked by as much as you can while still winning by 14 points. The difference this year seems to be that the Patriots aren’t slowing down in the fourth quarter. It seems like in past years, after one of the Vincent Jackson TDs the Patriots would have slowed down a little bit and made it close at the end. It’s the depth of this particular team (so far) that allows the Patriots to keep the engine churning. To have a guy like Green-Ellis who was as fresh as he was in the fourth quarter to eat the clock is a major plus. Obviously he was around last year as well, but with our depth at RB, he won’t be gassed by the fourth quarter this year. Overall, you’ve got to appreciate when your team can double the line that was set by Vegas and still come away feeling like they didn’t play their best.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Is it possible that he just has Rich Gannon syndrome and it took him five years to put it all together? If the Bills finish this year in the 10-20 range, would you take a quarterback first round? You said you were a supporter of the CJ Spiller pick, where do you see his ceiling? Is there one Bills player that Patriots fans haven’t heard of that we should be looking out for on Sunday?

Matt:

Well Im sure Bills Nation appreciate your kindness, however nothing would mean more to us than to send your boys home in the playoffs.

Our thoughts on the Spiller pick were that first this is no longer a single RB league, we had a RB who was already 28 (he’ll be 30 this year) and while he doesn’t have a ton of NFL wear on his tires he’s still getting older and he’s not the homerun threat we thought Spiller could be. If reports are true and we will see CJ Spiller split out wide more this weekend (which we talked about earlier) than what we thought Spiller could one day become is closer to reality. A good friend of mine and also a Bills fan texted me on Draft Day that year and asked “Why a RB?” and I responded to him and said you can’t see or use Spiller just as a RB he’s too explosive to be stuck in that role. He’s more of an athlete that you see get ranked coming out of HS than he is a traditional RB.

Its funny you mention Fitzpatrick because two years ago when we brought him in, my friend Tom and I had actually said to each other that we though he was the perfect backup QB for this team. Fast forward two years and Tom and I may have been a bit off on how he fit, but we were right that he was a perfect fit! I don’t want to say Fitzy has the Gannon syndrome because I don’t think that’s fair however he clearly needed to be given a true shot somewhere. We all know about how smart he is being an Ivy League grad but his Football IQ may be just as high as his regular IQ. He sees the field so well and really is starting to show how much he understands about opposing defenses this year. He is learning how to attack weaknesses and exploit mismatches that he sees pre-snap. His growth and development under Gailey has been a joy to watch and a relief to worried Bills fans. I don’t know that he’s ever going to become a Tom Brady type but he’s what we need right now out of the QB position, so no if Im drafting in the 10-20 range I do not pull the trigger on a QB, unless Andrew Luck falls (fingers crossed!).

The player that Pats fans may want to know that they don’t is WR Donald Jones he’s quietly put together a solid first two weeks to start the year. He is third on the team in receptions (6) and has already caught one TD pass from Fitzy. We spoke earlier in this discussion about matchups and how the Pats will put McCourty on Stevie and use a combination of Chung and Bodden to deal with Nelson and Chandler but they better not sleep on Donald Jones. He showed during camp that he can make big plays happen and he’s one of our better down field blockers as well. He’ll be starting opposite Stevie this weekend and he could be in for a big game if the Patriots overlook him.

One of the places I think this game may hinge on is in regards to field position, could you breakdown the Patriots Special Teams plays thus far this season and what the Bills can expect come Sunday? Ive been told that Wes Welker is now 100% healthy and that he is running deeper routes this year, is that true and what kind of impact has he had so far this year for the Pats? Finally the Patriots added a number of defensive line veterans to their team this year with guys like Albert Haynesworth, Mark Anderson, and others how are they fitting in and what kind of impact are they having?

Doug:

I’d definitely a little worried about Donald Jones. The injuries to our secondary have gotten pretty worrisome since we started this back and forth. Between Arrington’s concussion, Chung’s thumb, Bodden’s back and Dowling’s groin, we could be seeing a lot of Antwaun Molden this weekend. If Molden plays, I’m assuming he’d be on Jones. So that’s definitely a match up to watch.

I’ve been pleased with our special teams so far, but two things are concerning me so far. First is Zoltan Mesko’s injury. I was perturbed to say the least when the Patriots spent a 5th round pick on a punter, but I can admit when I’m wrong. Mesko was a great addition. He pinned the Dolphins and Chargers one time apiece inside their own 10 and he made a great punt on the play he got injured on booting the ball 54 yards out of the Pats end zone. I’m a little concerned about Julian Edelman so far too. That’s not to say it’s warranted at all, but seeing Welker back fielding a punt against San Diego was a bit odd since Edelman was so great in that role last season. Obviously I’m not in the locker room, but if I had to guess that might have been a reaction to Edelman’s aggressiveness in returns thus far in the season. Overall, out of 19 punts and kickoffs, the Pats have 6 touch backs (1 punt), 7 inside the 20 (2 punts) and 6 past the 20 (3 punts). I’d say the stars on special teams have been Stephen Gostkowski and Matthew Slater.

Wes Welker does seem to be faster and quicker than he was last year for the Patriots. It was impressive how fast he rushed back from his knee injury last year and it’s crazy to think he’ll be even better this year. He is definitely running deeper routes this year, more so against the Dolphins. As far as when he was thrown to, against the Dolphins he was thrown to ten times on short routes and four times on deep routes. Against the Chargers he was thrown to ten times on short routes and once on a deep route. He’s obviously still more consistent running and catching shorter routes, but to have that as an option is huge. When the Pats are in the no-huddle, he’s been out of his familiar slot position a lot of the time, which should obviously force him to run different routes. With Hernandez likely out, I’d expect Welker to find himself in the slot more often against the Bills. Ochocinco, Price and Slater will likely be split out opposite Branch. With Welker sliding out more, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some formations with Edelman in the slot though.

I’d say the biggest work in progress so far is the Patriots defensive line. They looked great against the Dolphins, constantly getting pressure on Henne, but against the Chargers they couldn’t get any pressure and it wasn’t helping that they barley blitzed. Haynesworth looked better against the Dolphins than he did against the Chargers, but I’d say the Chargers also have better interior linemen to block him. Haynesworth was getting pushed around in his home debut though. Shaun Ellis has played a lot of snaps (40 of 76, 46 of 72) so Belichick must have confidence in him (or our depth at DE is lacking), but he’s come up pretty empty so far. He’s not passing the eye test or on the stat sheet. I was really impressed with both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson in the preseason. Carter played a ton against San Diego, but had a better game in Miami recording half a sack and three QB hits. Anderson has been successful in his sub rush role recording two sacks so far for the Pats. All four of those vest will have to step it up with Mike Wright out with a concussion and Myron Pryor out for the season. Pryor was hell for Miami with half a sack, three QB hits and a tackle for a loss.

I know some Bills fans were heated about losing Paul Poluszny this off-season, how have Kirk Morrison and Nick Barnett looked so far as off-season acquisitions? How have the Bills rookies been so far? Anyone you’ve been particularly impressed by? This isn’t so much a question on the Bills, but more AFC East related. I think we all know how Pats fans feel about Rex Ryan, but how is he viewed in the Bills fan community?

Matt

Bills fans were pretty split on losing Poz to the Jaguars but I think the overwhelming majority felt like the Jags overpaid for his services. So while we were all a little worried about who would replace them, nobody wanted him at that price level. As for Nick Barnett he has been a huge addition to this team and has really helped us improve our run defense which as we all saw was horrible last year. Barnett’s aggressive downhill style of attacking the LOS has really work well in this defense. He fills holes exceptionally well and with our improved DL (mainly adding Marcel Dareus) his job is much easier than what Poz dealt with last year. Kirk Morrison remains the key backup to starter Andra Davis and is pushing him every day for the starting job. Morrison will also be key in helping provide veteran guidance to young players such as Arthur Moats, Kelvin Sheppard, and Chris White. I expect Morrison to see even more time v. the Patriots and to have a bigger impact on this defense as the season progresses.

The rookies have thus far been a mixed bag. Our first round pick was DE Marcel Dareus and he has been as advertised, which is to say he’s a complete beast out there. He almost never gives up any ground at the POA and he able to generate pressure by pushing his man into the backfield. With more time and development he should learn some more pass rush moves to disengage and get after the QB, but right now he’s doing very well. After that its kind of hit of miss, Aaron Williams is an emerging CB who got beat for a TD earlier this year despite taking a pretty good angle on the play. After him it kind tapers off as not many of the other rookies are seeing much time. Da’Norris Searcy did come up with the somewhat controversial INT to end the Raiders game last week but I think all Bills fans would agree that next time he should just bat the ball down. We did end up cutting monster DT Michael Jasper at the end of camp but he was resigned to our PS and that’s a guy many Bills fans are keeping an eye out for in years to come.

Good ol’ Sexy Rexy…what can you say about this guy? You don’t like him because he runs his mouth non-stop, but you love him because you never know what he’s going to say next. I think that most Bills fans generally dislike him and relish when his Jets blow up in the playoffs annually because he is always talking about winning super bowls first. Personally I don’t really get that invested in any of the coaches because what they say in the media is all fluff and pointless, I care far more about what happens on Sunday. So I have respect for Rex Ryan, he’s a solid coach, he does a great job with that defense and as much as Jets fans hate their offensive coordinator I think they are doing a good job to make Mark Sanchez look better than he is.

Rank this game in terms of how much Patriots fans care about this AFC East rivalry? I actually had a fan want me to ask you this but what was up with Bill Belichick’s love affair for Josh Reed? Every year he seemed to gush about him as if he a HOF caliber player. What do you think will be Goal #1 for the Patriots in trying to win this game?

Doug:

I was actually thinking about how I’d rank the AFC East rivalries recently. Obviously the Jets are our number one in division rivals. It’s been that way for years and the Rex Ryan hire has only escalated things. I think I’d put Miami second and Buffalo third, but to be completely honest, neither of those rivalries mean THAT much to me. That might be because I moved to New England in 1997, so while I had been a fan of the team, I wasn’t around Patriots fans until both of those teams’ success had tailed off a little bit. I certainly disliked Dan Marino back in the day, but it’s been twelve years since he’s been there. The Miami game are usually fun because the climates are so different in New England and South Florida. As for Buffalo, it was fun for a while while Bledsoe and Milloy were there, but it probably means a lot more to Bills fans to beat the Patriots at this point than vice versa. I’d rank Pittsburgh, San Diego, Indianapolis and Baltimore above both the Bills and Dolphins as far as rivalries go.

I think the Josh Reed love came about because of Bill’s relationship with Nick Saban. Reed obviously had his best years at LSU and I know that Bill loves players that can play a number of roles on the team. He probably looked at Reed as an Edelman/Woodhead type of player. Obviously Reed’s skill set never translated very well to the NFL, but he did have a couple decent games against us.

I’ve been saying this all along, but I think the number one goal is to stop Fred Jackson. The Patriots need to have someone key in on him all game. I wanted it to be my personal favorite Pats defensive player Patrick Chung, but now that he’s been ruled out with the thumb injury, it’s looking more likely that it will be a linebacker. Dane Fletcher seems to make the most sense. The Pats need to prepare for Jackson because they’ve been poor against speedier outside rushers all season. Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis really get bottled up at the line and can’t seem to find the agility or endurance to bounce out and stop the outside runs. Spiller might be even more dangerous in that regard. Another thing that Buffalo and Ryan Fitzpatrick do well that the Patriots have had trouble stopping is scrambling QBs. We allowed Chad Henne (CHAD HENNE?!) to rush for 59 yards, Josh Johnson to run for 24 yards on three carries, Drew Stanton to run for 18 yards on two carries and David Carr to run for 13 yards on three carries. If no one’s open and Fitzpatrick can find a lane, he might have a pretty decent game on the ground.

With all the Patriots injuries in the secondary, which Bills offensive player do you think has the most potential for a breakout game? Other than Tom Brady, who do you think is the most important player for the Bills defense to key in on and stop? I know you said the Dolphins are above them, but where do you personally rank the Patriots among AFC rivals?

Matt:

I hate to feel like Im beating a dead horse on this but I really think that with the expanded role CJ Spiller will see he has huge potential this week. He will be a match-up nightmare with his speed and he’s gotten stronger since entering the league so I’m not sure how effective jamming him will be either.

The Bill have to do whatever they can to take away the Pats outside WR’s. It’d be easy to say we need to stop Welker or Gronkowski but I honestly don’t think we have the ability to match-up with them very well. Since both of those players will see plenty of passes we have to be sure that Ochocinco and Deion Branch don’t beat us on the outside. That’s asking a lot of our CB’s, particularly Leodis McKelvin who I expect the Pats to target early and often.

Id have the Pats just behind the Dolphins for me. I grew up on Marino v. Kelly and just hating the Dolphins. That will never go away so no matter what I don’t think the Pats will ever overtake them. The Jets fall far below both of the teams, its not that I don’t want to beat them its just that I don’t get as pumped up for those games.

Alright I think we’ve covered this game from almost every angle. Its time for our predictions. Tell me what has to happen for the Pats to win this game and give me your score prediction.

Doug:

With my two favorite young Patriots out of this game, I’m a little worried. Not worried enough to predict a Bills victory though, don’t worry.

As much of a big deal has been made about the Pats pass rush against the Chargers, I wouldn’t make that a priority against the Bills. The Pats need to contain Jackson and Spiller outside and our healthy defensive backs need to limit the Bills receivers. Losing Chung for this game is huge for our defense. Mayo, McCourty, Wilfork and Chung are the biggest contributors on this rebuilt Patriots defense.

The Patriots are going to have to have big games from Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher as part of that containment. I’m not expecting to shut down the Bills offense, that will be saved for next week against Oakland. I know the Pats can put up points on the Bills defense, but Ochocinco will definitely be expected to step up to continue Brady’s dominance this season.

Score prediction? The Patriots will continue the 30+ score streak, 38-21.

This has been a lot of fun so now, same question for you, what has to happen for the Bills to win and what’s the score prediction?

Matt:

For the Bills to win on Sunday they must execute at all facets of the game. There is no question that the Patriots are the more talented team as of now, so the Bills must outwork them in order to beat them. The key to that will be establishing a ground attack centering around Fred Jackson, if the Bills can get him to consistently churn out yards and suck the LB’s in the Bills have a shot in this game. I expect them to utilize a lot of play action pass, trying to open up the intermediate zone. I also expect a lot of WR combo routes where they will use a decoy WR to clear out a zone so they can run another WR into it for an easy pitch and catch. They are going to try and throw as much as they can at a depleted Patriots secondary and see if they can’t find some matchups to exploit.

In the end I just don’t think we have enough defensively to stop the Patriots, I think the 30+ point streak lives on sadly but I think Buffalo keeps it within a score. New England 35 Buffalo 31.

I want to thank you for doing this with me, and for giving such great insight into this game.

Tags: Game Preview, Roundtable

6 Responses to “Patriots vs Bills: Roundtable”

  1. CC says:

    I don’t forsee that the Pats will penalize themselves out of a win.
    As long as we don’t suffer an unecessary injury somehow….this should be basically an irrelivent week with a “W” attached.

    Backup’s for Bills? A/. Easley, Roosevelt, Rinhart are a cpl of slim picking’s,
    and B/. Who Cares? : )

    • Easley is out for the year with a heart condition. I do hope though that the Pats take the same “irrelevant” view point coming into this game. That will work out well.

      • TD says:

        Not as long as Belichick is the coach!

        I would imagine he is scheming to take out the Bills most dangerous player to us – Jackson. With so many DB’s dinged up he may go back to a lot of zone coverages.

        • Matt Elder says:

          Going zone coverage would be a mistake. One of Gailey’s strong points is using decoy WR’s to clear out zones and leave big gaps. You’re young DB’s aren’t experience enough to read and understand that as its happening.

  2. TD says:

    What does Buffalo have in the way of quality backups with injuries to Parrish, Ubick, Johnson and any others?

    This is the area of strength and advantage that NE has over most teams, especially the rebuilding teams ala Bills.

    • Urbik is the only real loss of the guys you mention, Johnson is fine and he’s going to play and CJ Spiller will replace Parrish who has always been injury prone.

      The loss of Urbik is a big loss that cannot be overlooked.






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