by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Well, we hate to say it, but we told you so.
Actually, that’s not true: we love to say it. Especially when a rolling Patriots team delivering a lackluster performance against a young quarterback ends up not in a loss, but in an exciting victory. Too exciting. (We do tend to worry, after all.)
So this week, does New England wrap up the AFC East title and a first-round bye with a win, or does Buffalo play the rude host?
We figured we’d share our thoughts on that…
Ryan The Crimson Reigned Here: Buffalo has a lousy (4-10) record, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has done everything short of make up his own rules to keep them competitive (he’s from Harvard; he can do that). With 23 touchdown passes vs. 12 interceptions, Fitzpatrick has shown solid ability in leading the Bills’ offense. Considering the Patriots made Green Bay’s Matt Flynn look like the star of his own Disney movie (From Sidelines To Stardom, with, let’s say, Zac Effron?), they need to prepare for their trip up North.
Put One Foot In Front Of The Other: Bills running back Fred Jackson has averaged over four yards a carry in a league determined to stop him every week. Last Sunday night, the Patriots defense looked about as difficult to run through as a gentle spring rain, so expect Jackson and C. J. Spiller to do more carrying than Santa this week.
I’ll Have A Blue(print) Christmas: The fret with Foxboro fans is that Green Bay showed the rest of the league how to stop the Patriots. Keep QB/spokesmodel/guy-I’d-love-to-hang-out-with Tom Brady off the field, blitz him up the middle, cover his two main receivers with your shutdown corners. (Not really a new plan, by the way.) While the Bills lack the type of personnel the Packers have, New England has to ready their offensive game plan for “the blueprint.”
Seven Years A-Streaking: What were you doing on September 7, 2003? (Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were Marilu Henner or one of those other people with a Super Autobiographical Memory.) If you guessed, “watching the Pats get their butts handed to them by the Bills,” you’re correct. Drew Bledsoe and Lawyer Milloy gained revenge on their old team in that season’s opener; Buffalo hasn’t beaten New England since.
Not that we care much about streaks (the whole “Brady undefeated at home” thing seems dumb when we remember last year’s playoff debacle), but at this point you have to believe Buffalo has gotten tired of it.
Silver Bills: As the song goes, “Above all this bustle, you’ll hear” the Buffalo crowd, desperate for a win against the Pats and ready for blood if the visitors show any hint of weakness. Those people are nuts. Seriously, run a search for “Bills-fan-drunk” and see how many videos you come up with. We find it both hilarious and off-putting – much like the people of Buffalo themselves.
Under The Missile – D’oh! It seems this season that safety Brandon Meriweather has done his fair share of knocking teammates out of the way for opponents’ scores, the latest example happening at the 40-yard line at Foxboro to give Flynn his first career TD. We’re sure Meriweather has heard this advice, but Brandon? Stop trying to cut under the coverage.
God Bless Ye Merry Edelman: While receiver Julian Edelman proved better than his seventh-round status as a rookie (37 catches), he’s had a tough go of it this year (four). Two games ago, he had a punt return TD called back at Chicago. This past week, he missed a pass from our good friend Tom Brady that would have set up the Pats first-and-goal at the 10. The home team had to settle for a field goal and a 27-24 deficit.
Our Christmas wish? That Edelman gets more chances, and takes advantage of every single one. Not a bad thought for all our readers, either.
Have a very Merry Christmas.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org