The 2-0 Patriots travel to the 2-0 Bills up in Orchard Park, New York for a division game that features two prolific offenses. This is going to be one of the better Bills teams the Patriots have seen in years. And we homers here at Patriots Daily have a surprising prediction for this usually one-sided matchup. The Bills are good. The Patriots are good. In the end, the Patriots are probably better and should have a better season. But this Sunday, it just may well be the timing is perfect for the Bills pulling off a win against division bully New England for the first time since 2003.
One-Sided Rivalry: Last week the Patriots honored their former Quarterback Drew Bledsoe as he was elected to the team Hall of Fame. Its amazing to think Bledsoe has been retired now from the NFL for 5 seasons. And he is 8 seasons removed from beating the Patriots 31-0 as the starting Bills quarterback in a game that opened the 2003 NFL season. Its really is crazy to consider that the last QB for the Bills to beat the Patriots was last week standing on the field retired in a red blazer and has been out of the league for half a decade. But its true. Since that time, the Patriots have gone 15-0 against their division rivals to the north. Of those 15 wins, eleven have been by double digits or more. Nearly half, seven games, have been by three touchdowns or more. Only twice have the Bills even cracked twenty points in any of the 15 games. The aggregate points for the last 15 matchups favors the Patriots 435 to 163, which means the average game has been 29 to 10.8. That is as dominant a stretch you’ll ever see in the NFL by one team over another, particularly a division rival.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, #14, Quarterback: The Harvard grad has played so well most of last year and early this year (Throwing 7 Touchdowns to only 1 Interception) the Bills are in serious talks with him about a high paying contract extension.. Fitzpatrick is a wicked smahhhhht, as we say here in Boston allegedly, quarterback with a very strong arm and his accuracy has improved. He seems to work well in Head Coach Chan Gailey’s offense. Gailey himself is an excellent offensive mind and that has no doubt helped Fitzpatrick improve greatly. One thing Fitzpatrick can do is scramble a bit and can even throw on the run, so that is something the Patriots will have to look out for. The Patriots have usually contained Fitzpatrick pretty well. He had a big game early last year, but in the rematch in Buffalo, the Bills’ offense was held to 3 points and Fitzpatrick committed some of his worst turnovers of the year. We’ll see if the Pats had figured something out or it was just a bad game Sunday.
Fred Jackson, #22, Running Back: Jackson bounced around for years playing in the United Indoor Football League and NFL Europe before finally establishing himself with the Bills a few years back. He’s become one of the more respected players on the Bills. The Patriots players and coaches in particular have always been complimentary of Jackson, who obviously gives a good, tough, physical effort when he is in the game. This year Jackson merely leads the NFL in rushing thru two weeks, putting up 100 yard games both outings. He as much as anything makes the Bills offense, and Fitzpatrick, better by creating a difficult to defend balance. The Patriots seem more committed to a pressure attack and less about stopping the run when they really want to. That could be the formula the Bills need to try to score with the Patriots and beat them for the first time since 2003.
Injuries: The Patriots are coping with a lot of injuries, but the Bills have some of their own. Wide receiver and kick returner Roscoe Parrish was placed on injured reserve this week and will miss the rest of the year. He was one of the few Bills whose played well at times in recent years versus the Patriots. They’ve also lost for the season other guys that figured in their plans such as wide receiver Marcus Easley and linebacker Reggie Torbor. Another important player Stevie Johnson, their best receiver, is questionable and did not practice on Wednesday with a groin injury. He insisted he’d play, however. Cornerback Terrence McGee and linebacker Kirk Morrison also sat out practice on Wednesday. Both teams could have their depth tested as they’ve been dealing with a run of injuries recently.
Bills Fans: Bills fans haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years in this series, or in general for that matter. I suppose they’re lucky they even still have a team, though it remains to be seen how long that will be true. Nevertheless, they seem enthusiastic, even confident, about their 2-0 Bills chances. Lets take a look at the popular Bills message board “Two Bills Drive”
DrDareustein says: “If we sack Brady and they call a weak Roughing the Passer call, then I hope on the next play Merriman/Dareus purposely knock him out of the game and take another 15 yards.
If we’re going to get penalized for hitting him, make it count. Take him out.”
Sage football minds like The Big Cat question how good Tom Brady really is:
“I’m with you Clippers. Brady walks around the field like he owns the place, but he’s the classic little guy chirping while the big, scary army stands behind him.
I’ve said it once, I’ve said 1,000 times since, without that line in front of him, he’s a worthless, ineffective garbage quarterback.”
Intriguing insights, TBC. So, should the Bills reconsider that “take him out” thing then?
There are a few Bills fans, however, who seems a bit shell-shocked and lacking in confidence after fifteen straight beatings at the hands of the Patriots:
Clippers of NFL says the way for Buffalo to win is simple:
“pay them under the table to throw the game”
Prediction: It has to end sometime. It just does. Fifteen games of one team winning against another is like a millennium in the NFL. And this year, the Bills have a good offense, good schemes, good coaches and are playing at home. With the Patriots missing big weapon Aaron Hernandez and banged up in the secondary, this is the weekend the Bills end eight years of frustration. Bills 30 Patriots 27