Once again, it's time for our weekly Q&A session with a blogger who covers the Patriots' upcoming opponent. Up this week is Joe Pinzone from Buffalo Wins, Bloguin's Buffalo Bills blog. Here's what Joe had to say about the Bills and Pats leading up to Sunday's game.
1. On a scale of 1-10, how surprised are you with the Bills' 2-0 start? Is it sustainable throughout the final 14 games?
I'm not surprised at them starting 2-0 to be quite frankly. Before the season, I thought the Bills would beat the Chiefs and Raiders. However, I'm shocked at how they have scored 81 points in two games. It's the most points the Bills have scored in the first two games of the season since 1991. As far as keeping the 40-point a game up? I doubt they will be able to do that. The Bills played against a Raiders team that has a brutally bad secondary and a Chiefs team that is borderline pathetic.
2. The major question surrounding the Bills has been the protection of Ryan Fitzpatrick. So far, Fitz has not been sacked once. How have they been able to do so well in the pass protection?
Fitzpatrick has only been sacked 24 times in his last 15 starts. However, when Trent Edwards and Brian Brohm started three games collectively last year, the Bills gave up 10 sacks. I think a lot of the credit has to do with Fitz and the way the offense is designed. The Bills rely on quick passes and routes that run anywhere between 8-10 yards. They love using comeback routes. The Bills have only had two pass plays of 20 yards or more this year, which tells me Belichick will probably play tight coverage to try and take away the underneath routes. You will see the Bills use a lot of empty backfield formations, but because the Bills love getting rid of the ball fast, it is really hard to get to Fitz. The Raiders tried blitzing Fitz last week, but they couldn't get to him.
3. With Stevie Johnson not being 100% and Roscoe Parrish being carted off Sunday, how big an issue is the Bills' depth at WR for Sunday's game?
It's a concern.The Parrish loss stinks, but the Bills offense still put up 5 touchdowns without him in the line-up. If we lose Johnson, then yes, the sh#t would hit the fan. After Johnson, the rest of the Bills wideouts are all 2nd year undrafted guys. I will say this, you guys gotta keep an eye out for David Nelson. He has 14 catches on the season and he may be the best route runner we have on the team. He plays in the slot, which is pretty unique because the guy is listed at 6'5, and normally, you don't have slot receivers that tall. Anyways, he's been money this season. The thing about the Bills offense is that they love to spread the ball around. There was a big question mark as to who would be the 2nd option for the Bills since Lee Evans left, but I think people made too much of it because the Bills love playing 4-5 wide sets. In other words, if you are open, you are getting the ball.
4. We have to talk about Scott Chandler. He looks to be Buffalo's target in the red zone right now. How has he been so good in this offense that has put up 39 points per game?
He's looked good. I wouldn't say he's a huge factor. I think it goes back to the Bills love for spreading the ball around. If Chandler is open, he will get the ball like all the other guys. It is still to early for me to really take Chandler seriously, because Gailey normally doesn't use the tight end position all that much. Not to mention, the Bills have always ignored the position. Chandler scored two touchdowns in week 1 and the last time a Bills tight end accomplished that in a game was in 2007.
5. If the Bills are going to win this game, who will be a bigger thorn in New England's side? Ryan Fitzpatrick or Fred Jackson?
Hmmm. I'm going to go with Fred Jackson. He's actually had the Patriots number over the years.In seven games, he's averaged almost 5 yards a carry against the Pats and has had over 100-yards in total offense in four of those games. It may not sound like a lot, but up until last year, he was pretty much splitting time with Marshawn Lynch. Now, he's the unquestioned featured back for the Bills. As for Fitzpatrick, I'm still not sure he can overcome a Bill Belichick coached team. Last year, he played well the first time around when he passed for almost 300 yards and guided the Bills to 30 points. However, he really regressed in his final meeting against them in Buffalo when he turned the ball over five times in a 34-3 loss. So, because Jackson has the better track record against the Pats, I will go with him as being the bigger thorn.
6. Give me a key to this game.
Tom Brady needs to get kidnapped. OK, that's a crime. I think the Bills need to control the game clock. The Pats are too good offensively to try and get into a shootout. So, I'd love a full dose of Fred Jackson. I also think the Bills have to get pressure on Brady. Just watch the film for Pats vs Giants Super Bowl. If you can get in Brady's face, you can slow him down. However, the Bills pass rush has been anemic this year. Last week, Jason Campbell lit them up for over 300-yards. Yeah, THAT Jason Campbell! So, ball control and pressure are the keys. However, kidnapping Brady works for me as well.
7. Will the Bills pull the upset? Why or Why not?
No. I'm so tapped out by this streak. The Pats are in my head. They are just so good. Brady doesn't make mistakes and the Bills defense is a mess. I think the Bills can put up points on you guys, but I think it boils down to whose offense is better, and that goes to Brady and company.
Yup, not a typo.