Pre-Game Meal: Buffalo Bills

Brady Ochocinco Hernandez

Option #1 is out - Time for Option #85?

NEPD Staff Writer: Brian D

Already three weeks in and the Patriots are off to a hot start. Tied three ways for the top of the division are Buffalo, New England, and New York at 2-0.

Tom Brady has a league high 940 yards, 7 TDs, and 1 TD, completing 71.6 of his passes thus far. The New England defense had four takeaway against Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers last Sunday, defeating them 31-25.

The Patriots allowed almost 400 yards through the air again, but stood solid on a couple of goal-line stands when it mattered most. The bend-but-don’t-break strategy proved strong once again for the young secondary. All-Star tight end Antonio Gates was help to zero receptions mostly by S Pat Chung.

Another blow to the offense comes in the form of a sprained Aaron Hernandez MCL which will keep him sidelined for 2-4 weeks; even though he says he “feels fine”. This will put added pressure on TE Rob Gronkowski to produce more in his absence. I believe the kid will come through.

This weekend, the Patriots will be playing for the lead in the AFC East against their rival in Buffalo. Heading on to the road again, coach Belichick is hoping that the defense will be able to prevent a shootout against a red hot offense, coming off a last minute win against the Oakland Raiders. Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been on fire just like his divisional counterpart; throwing for 7 TDs and 1 INT with almost half the yardage (472). The Bills have also mentioned a possible move of young C.J. Spiller from RB to WR – something that will be important to keep an eye on comes Sunday afternoon.

Fitzy & Chandler vs. Pat Chung and the New England Secondary –
Again the Patriots will have to deal with a TE-happy quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick has really done a good job of distributing the ball so far. However, it is clear which receiver is his favorite target in the red zone. TE Scott Chandler has been targeted for 7 receptions and 3 TDs. WR Steve Johnson leads Buffalo in receptions with 12 for 162 yards and 2 TDs. Pat Chung did a remarkable job getting physical with Gates last week and should look to do the same against this Gronk-sized tight end ( 6’7″, 263 lbs). Chung returned to practice Firday wearing a black cast and I expect him to play.

The Patriots’ secondary is undergoing a lot of questions due to injuries. Who will be the key to containing WR Steve Johnson, who is expected to play? Rookie CB Ras-I Dowling averted a serious injury but still hurt his hip. Kyle Arrington got a concussion at the very end of the Chargers game which limited him at practice this week. Leigh Bodden has some back issues and was called for some shaky play last week. To top it all off, second-year CB Devin McCourty has had a silent role, underperforming to many fans. This is a big week for him in terms of cementing himself as a staple of this secondary. We need one guy to constantly be able to shut down opposing #1 WRs. While Johnson isn’t as big as Vincent Jackson, at 6’2″ he is still winning the size battle; McCourty only plays like he’s 6’1″. A solid performance here could build his confidence for the upcoming challenges this season.

Fred Jackson vs. Wilfork & Haynesworth –
Stopping the run is a huge part of the gameplan in playing the Bills, especially at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Jackson has rushed for over 100 yards in both games this season, scoring twice in his last outing. On a pace to shatter 1,000 yards for the season, Jackson must be stopped when he gets the ball. Allowing a 100-yard performance will probably spell a loss for New England. The Patriots allowed under 100 to Chargers’ RB Ryan Mathews and could easily do the same here against Jackson.

The solution to this problem begins at the defensive line. If NT Vince Wilfork can command double teams in the trenches, he and Albert Haynesworth need to back the pile up into Fred Jackson and keep him from escaping into the open field. Guys like LB Jerod Mayo and LB Rob Ninkovich need to wrap this strong back up the first time they see his numbers. Wilfork’s level of play has been high as of late, almost returning a Rivers pass all the way back. That scenario wouldn’t hurt us if it played out again, but I expect most of his his highlights to come out of the backfield this weekend. This will also be a coming out party for Haynesworth…oh and maybe one other guy.

OchoCinco vs. The Critics – 
The loudest of all of the wide receivers has been kept very quiet up to this point in 2011. Chad Ochocinco has been held to just 3 receptions for a measly 59 yards. His low production has been attributed to the complexity of the Patriots’ playbook but now it’s beginning to get to the point of frustration for some. By the third week, we need Chad to be on the same page as the rest of the squad, and least the same page as Brady. He needs to keep his senses heightened at the line of scrimmage, to make sure he knows the plays and make sure he’s lining up legally.

Especially now without Aaron Hernandez, The Patriots need his production for the next few weeks more than ever. Just 60 yards and a touchdown would be the difference in this game to me. Chad stands between an easy victory and struggle for New England. So what’s it going to be? Help Brady get the ball in your hands or not? Playing against Buffalo CB Leodis McKelvin is no simple task but Ocho definitely has the juice to beat out this 5’10” defensive back.

Tom Brady vs. Jaruis Byrd –
Brady has been red hot, there’s no denying that. After taking on Bob Sanders last week, he switches to focusing on the young free safety from Oregon, Jairus Byrd. With 10 INTs and 1 TD in a little over two seasons with Buffalo, the safety has proven that he can read opposing quarterbacks and make the plays to back it up. He is yet to snag one down this season and it will be key to keep the ball away from him. A turnover through the air could tilt the scales for the Bills.

It will be up to Tom Brady to continue distributing the ball evenly and intelligently. Armed with Gronkowski, Welker, and Branch, all the tools are available for success against a defense that allowed 258 through the air from Jason Campbell and the Oakland Raiders. The real test for Brady will be his time in the pocket, he needs to be protected so he can make the accurate throws and limit turnovers. Facing a rush from LB Shawne Merriman and DE Marcell Dareus, the Patriots’ tackles must play strongly on the edges to protect the possibility of a Brady fumble.

The Law Firm & Co. vs Bills Run-Defense –
Benny is averaging about 50 yards and one score per game so far, and what more could we ask for. When ever the defense gets comfortable against the pass, Green-Ellis can come in and make the remember that we can do it on the ground too. It just so happens that New England has been finding great ease in the aerial assault. A pleasant surprise has been the complementary play of RB Danny Woodhead. Even though he is a little guy, he was able to come in in Week 1 when BenJarvus wasn’t coming up with much yards and pick up 70 of his own. What happened when Benny ran for 70 and a TD? Woody only touched the ball 4 times picking up 3 yards each time; that’s great consistency to me. Hopefully these two can slip through the cracks against a spotty run defense.

The Bills gave up 200 on the ground to Oakland and Darren McFadden in a barn burner. If Danny and Benny can make the defense respect their play, Brady will be able to hit Chad on a long play-action. This is my dream for Sunday.

HOLD ON TO THE BALL! -> no fumbles, please.

Wildcards:

Buffalo: WR Donald Jones – Donald Jones can play with the Patriots’ cornerbacks. Jones poses a threat depending on which cornerback is currently tending to him. If he sees Kyle Arrington, I think he will be targeted and probably defeated. It will be somewhat important to keep an eye on Jones over the top to keep him from getting his second (or third) touchdowns.

New England: CB Ras-I Dowling – The rookie cornerback skipped out on missing the season and has a big opportunity to rebound against Buffalo. I personally like the guy a lot. I like his size and I love his work ethic. I believe he and McCourty could carry the Patriots this season if they can build their confidence early.

Patriots win in OT.

-B. DelaBarrera

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One Response to “Pre-Game Meal: Buffalo Bills”

  1. John says:

    there is no chung, haynesworth, or bills run defense

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