Pre Game Meal: Buffalo Bills vs Patriots

Bring on the rivalry!

NEPD Staff Writer B. Delaberra

I hope everyone has had a very good holiday season so far… next up on the list are the Bills, New Years, and the Dolphins.

Can you feel it?

After 14 straight losses to Coach Belichick’s team, the New England Patriots (12-2) will head into upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Bills (4-10). This Buffalo team has stepped their game up prior to a lousy 0-8 start to the season and with four out of their last six games resulting in wins, Buffalo would love to play keep away with the AFC East crown and snap their losing streak against the Pats.

New England are favorites by at least a touchdown so for this Pre Game Meal I decided to take this one on in a different manner. Instead of listing key matchups and players to look out for on both teams, this PGM will follow the theme of “How On Earth Can The Bills Avoid Losing Another Game?” OUT for NE: Hernandez, Wright, Deaderick, Connoly, Cunningham, + Pryor

Buffalo quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, has been playing some pretty solid football as of late and the Bills offense has been able to score even without his top receiving threats: Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish. Fred Jackson is a hard-nosed running back that is capable of a big play or two on the ground or out of the backfield, especially with the aid of rookie RB C.J. Spiller.

The young Bills secondary has been involved in a couple high-scoring shootouts and come out on the losing end more times than not. This afternoon they will test the will of Tom Brady as he tries to lead his offense to yet another AFC East title and possibly the No. 1 seed in the entire conference.

So how might the Bills be able to pull this one off?

Ryan Fitzpatrick… really? – Yes sirs and madams this guy has proven to be the guy for the Bills. He may even  be able to keep his job next year if he can finish this season strongly enough to keep Buffalo from QB-hunting this off-season.  His 2,749 passing yards this season have been accompanied by a TD pass (23) in every game and 12 INTs and against worthy opponents the Harvard grad usually performs better (+250 yd games).

While the New England secondary has been playing pretty well over the last couple weeks, I can see mass dump passes and quick passes frustrating the Patriots’ defense; a consistent running attack could also place the Patriots off balance in play-action situations. Hopefully Brandon Merriweather can stay away from my boy McCourty long enough to let him do his thing this weekend… but the rookie CB may find a disadvantage or two when lining up against Buffalo’s star wideout, Steve Johnson.

But watch out… this quarterback can scramble when he needs to too. He’s actually the team’s second leading rusher.

Wait, what?

Yeah, I know.

Expect A Big Game – Steve Johnson, the 6-foot-2-inch, 3rd-year WR out of Kentucky has stolen the spotlight up in the middle of nowhere (Buffalo, NY). He has broken the plane 10 times this season and serves as the Bills’ lone deep threat. Johnson is also a handful of catches away from his first 1,000-yard season.

His speed is evident and could pose a real challenge to the young Patriot, Devin McCourty if he uses his size to his advantage. McCourty won’t screw up a whole lot so it will a true test of Johnson’s character to see if he can come out against this rival New England team and entertain his always-about-to-go-face-to-palm-fanbase. Steve Johnson hasn’t posted a 100-yard game in a couple of weeks and I presume that it isn’t too far fetched to predict one in Week 15 considering his talent and Fitzpatrick’s other options.

Let’s forget Fred Jackson for a second because my money says that Jerod Mayo’s league leading 163 tackles > Jackson’s 4.1 yard rushing average. Even though he’s tough to defend in the passing game sometimes, the only way Buffalo beats New England with a running back is if that running back has no vowels in his first name.

(not good)

To Unleash or Not To Unleash… – Rookie RB C.J. Spiller has not made the splash that many had expected him to in 2010. His agility has been an asset returning kickoffs and punts, which could end up being the way that the Bills avoid losing their 15th straight game to Belichick and Brady if the Patriots manage to slip up on their special teams coverage.

It’s somewhat of a shame to see how under-utilized Spiller has been in Chan Gailey’s weekly game plan and an even bigger shame that Fitzpatrick has more rushing yards than him. If there were ever a chance for his team to really give him a good opportunity to help them win this game, this is it for C.J. He will need to see at least 40% of the carries. Sorry, I just can’t believe that that will happen.

Without the play of Aaron Hernandez, I still predict the Patriots to soar. Gronkowski and Welker pass the pylons and win big in Buffalo: 38-17.


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