Vince Wilfork and the Pats are hungry for a win...
After last week’s chaotic game with the Baltimore Ravens and the replacement officials, the New England Patriots will look to avoid their first three game losing streak in a decade on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding this Patriots’ team, particularly after blowing a 13-0 lead and a 30-21 lead late in the 4th quarter to Baltimore. This game Sunday is also a revenge game for New England after they blew a 21-0 lead to the Bills in a 34-31 loss at Orchard Park last September.
The Buffalo Bills are a team that a lot of prognosticators picked to be one of the Wild Cards in the AFC. They got off to a bad start to the year when they gave up 48 points to Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets in Week 1. However, they have improved in their last two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. This game will be a tough task for the Bills to show they are for real in the AFC East, especially with both of their running backs less than 100%.
With that, here are my keys for Sunday’s Game:
1. He’s Definitely Worth Jack: The key as always in this rivalry is the success of the Buffalo Bills’ rushing attack. The number one back is Fred Jackson, who is 50-50 for the game on Sunday after he suffered a knee injury in the game against the New York Jets. His health could become very important after CJ Spiller suffered a sprained left shoulder against the Browns. He is iffy for Sunday as well.
Jackson had 12 carries for 74 yards and a TD in the win last year vs. New England. However, his main asset could be catching the ball out of the backfield. With no number two receiver for Buffalo, Jackson could see some valuable receptions from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. In that game, he also had five catches for 87 yards. Another big game by the running back could lead to the upset!
2. Super Mario Pass Rusher: The Bills paid big money to sign former Houston Texan Mario Williams in the offseason to become their number one pass rusher for games like this. Williams had a breakout game against the Browns with 1.5 sacks in the 24-14 win last week. His impact has helped Buffalo in more ways than one because it has improved the entire defensive line. Former Patriot Mark Anderson also had one sack against the Browns last week. If Anderson and Williams can get to Tom Brady, Buffalo will neutralize the Pats’ attack, especially if Logan Mankins is not healthy for New England.
3. Turning Over the Fitz: From talking with some Bills’ insiders this week, this seems to be a make-or-break year for their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has the ability to move the ball downfield, but other than Stevie Johnson, he does not have many weapons at the wide receiver position. The key to disrupting his rhythm is forcing some turnovers. He has been turnover-free over the last two games after throwing three interceptions against the Jets. Last year, Fitz had six interceptions in two games vs. the Patriots. If New England wants to send a message early, they have to turn their turnovers into touchdowns instead of field goals.
PREDICTION: The regular officials are back, with the lead official being the same man who officiated the Super Bowl 46 loss to the New York Giants. The officials will not determine who win this game, but the players would. The Patriots NEED this game to avoid a 1-3 start and a lot of major questions. They have some key injuries themselves with Logan Mankins being limited in practice this week. Buffalo has a chance to pull the upset, but the Patriots have the upper hand, in my opinion, because I think Tom Brady looks for Rob Gronkowski early and often. Plus, when Buffalo only intercepts Brady one time or fewer, they are 0-17. Look for that trend to continue Sunday.
PATRIOTS 31 BILLS 21