1, Which running back news story is more crucial to the Bills going forward this week? The return of Fred Jackson or the loss of CJ Spiller this week? That is a tough one, but I think Jackson coming back. When Spiller went down and it looked really severe, Twitter was ablaze with "The season is over!!" rhetoric. I reminded everyone that this is why you have two running backs. I'm not sure who is better of the two, but Jackson has proven that he can be a great back on a consistent level. Jackson has actually done well against the Pats. In eight games, Jackson has rushed 93 times for 465 yards (5.0 yards per carry avg.) with thirteen of those 93 carries going for 10 yards or more.
2. With all the injuries to Buffalo at WR, who should the Patriots' fans expect to step up for the Bills' wide receivers other than Stevie Johnson? I'd say the running backs coming out of the backfield is what you guys have to look out for. Sure, Donald Jones and rookie TJ Graham may hurt you, but I think if you look at last year's win for Buffalo, Fred Jackson had 5 catches for 87 yards. Even when the Bills got crushed in the season finale against the Pats, Spiller had 4 catches for 40yards and one touchdown. You'll see that we like using screens and check downs. Between Jackson and Spiller last year, the Bills had the 3rd most catches by running backs in the league. Also, keep an eye on Scott Chandler in the red zone.
3. Is this a make-or-break year for Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback? I would say so. He's so inconsistent, it boggles my mind. In his last seven September games, Fitzpatrick has 19 touchdowns. Great, right? Yet, from week 9 of last year to week 1 of this year, he threw 19 interceptions. He's just all over the place. I wrote him off after week one against the Jets, as he was a tire fire with telegraphing his passes to the outside and being a turnover machine (3INTs in the first 33 minutes). Now he has 8tds in his last 10 quarters. I don't get it. He can look so good with the short passing game, but if you take away his underneath routes and make him go vertical, that's when he gets into trouble.
4. Mario Williams only has 1.5 sacks this year through three games. Is there a reason why he hasn't made as big of an impact yet on the Bills' defensive line? I think you have to look at how the other guys around him are playing. The Bills have nine sacks on the season and they didn't get to nine sacks until week 8 of last year. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus have been awesome the last two games. It is tough for OLs to figure out who they are going to double team. Now, Mario didn't play well against the Jets, but no one else did on the defensive line. However, he's coming off 1.5 sacks against the Browns and he's played well against the run in setting the edge on the outside. BTW, Mark Anderson has really impressed so far. He's been great the last two weeks in run support and getting after the QB. So, thanks!
5. The Bills finally released Brian Moorman at punter on Tuesday. Moorman was a long time veteran for the team. What will Buffalo miss and do you have any Moorman stories for us? A lot of fans loved Moorman because he was the only guy who was consistently good during probably the worst decade of football we've ever witnessed. He was really good in his prime and I can recall being at games or Bills bars when the crowd would erupt with "MVP" chants. He was also big in the community with his foundation. I will say, I was a bit underwhelmed with them cutting him. I wrote a piece about how sad it was that our fan base had such admiration for a punter of all players. To me, it was a detriment about how bad things have been around here.
6. How big a game is this for Buffalo fans to think they can win the AFC East after last year's second half meltdown? It is huge for me in a mental capacity. You guys are the gateway to the AFC East Title. I don't care how many refs Bill Belichick beats up or how many pornos Rob Gronkowski does, you guys will haunt my dreams until Tom Brady retires or Hoodie hangs up the hoodie. They are fricken Dracula. You may think they are dieing, but they will come back from the dead and suck your blood. This is a measuring stick game for the Bills. Their schedule looks easy, as they still have to play a bunch of 2nd and 1st year QBs. So, really, even if the Bills lose, they can still make the playoffs because their schedule is easy. However, if the Bills are expected to make a playoff run, they have to beat great teams. Beating Cassel and Weeden doesn't impress me all that much. Beat Brady, and now we are talking.
7. Who wins and why? I'm never picking against the Pats when they face the Bills. They haven't lost three straight games since 2002 and we've only beat you guys twice since 2001. The Pats are going to be pissed off. I just think Brady is too good and as much as I like our defense, they haven't proven they can beat an elite offense. I know it is only game four, but the Jets game from week 1 when Mark Sanchez passed all over the defense, still haunts me. As for the offense, I think the Bills can move the ball. Your corners are suspect and your Dline hasn't been able to get pressure on the QBs. However, I think it will come down to Fitz vs. Brady. And we know who wins that battle. 38-28, Pats.