by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Despite last week’s win over Carolina, this New England squad remains an underdog to finish up December in winning style. This week they travel to Buffalo for their final AFC East showdown.
The good news? The Bills have the lowest-ranked run defense in the league. The bad news? Well, as always, there’s plenty of that…
Oh Give Me A Home: Or, in this case, an away (victory, that is). All of the Patriots’ five losses have come outside of the comfy confines of Gillette. In a year of broken streaks, they need to overcome that one while maintaining their six-year run against the Bills.
While we’re on the topic of Buffalo…
The Answer Is Snow: The question is, what kind of funky weather will affect the game? Though this won’t equal last year’s literal whirlwind (check out the cockeyed goalposts of 2008 here), the conditions could become a factor.
Born To Run: The Bills, due to the aforementioned climate, have always tried to move the ball on the ground (they average 4.3 yards per carry). With the Patriots on their last chance power drive, injuries last week to Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren might put the onus on other defensive linemen. No one else on the Patriots’ front inspires confidence in preventing Buffalo from gaining yards.
Clearing Up A Loose End: Grrr, Randy Moss. Ehhh. Arrrgh. Okay, even as we get past the histrionics over last week’s lame performance, we still have concerns over which Moss makes the trip. Will this guy fight for passes and run through his routes, or will he mail it in this week?
Too bad we have to ask.
Ryan’s Song: We hope Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ends up singing something like, “I can’t get enough time to pass.” With New England’s lack of pressure, though, that’s not likely. The Pats’ defense hasn’t held up against accurate quarterbacks, from a scale of Drew Brees to Chad Henne. Continued miscommunication and missed tackles will provide a long day for the visitors.
Point Of No Return: Can someone – anyone – step up to return kickoffs? Someone besides Matthew Slater, who moves with the elusiveness of a flat kickball? Or besides Wes Welker, who’s the best player on the offense right now? Will Laurence Maroney be the guy, or will he have to focus on the run game? It would be nice for someone to carry the ball past the 30 once in a while.
Welcome To Our Flat: If New England comes out with the same lack of enthusiasm as they did last week (I mean, really, they had the collective spark of a bowl of borscht), then they give Buffalo a chance.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org