Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Take the Bills Too Lightly

The Bills didn't roll over for the Pats' last year, will that change in 2010?

Following a devastating loss to the upstart rival New York Jets, a home game against the feeble Buffalo Bills seems like the perfect opportunity for the Pats to bounce back. The Bills have been somewhat of a punching bag for New England over the past decade. The Patriots have won 13 straight against Buffalo and it looks like Brady and co. have a very good chance to make it 14 this Sunday.

Buffalo has big issues. They didn't go 6-10 last year for lack of effort. One of their top players from over the years, Aaron Schobel, is gone. C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch are three great running backs who could each be a starter on different teams, but their offensive line is a complete mess. It doesn't matter how gifted you are running the ball if no one can block for you. In addition to that, the Bills alternate between two quarterbacks, Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who probably wouldn't even start for any other team.

Good Job, Guys.
Despite the plethora of problems with the Bills organization, I'd caution anyone to write this week's match-up off as a cakewalk for the Patriots. Yes, I know how horrible the Bills are. I mean, their last win was against the Colts' the snow. But, Buffalo has given some good teams some trouble before. As evidenced in both this season and last.

The 0-2 Bills have a new look this year. Under new coach Chan Gailey, Buffalo's defense is amidst a transformation to the 3-4. A process which, as evidenced by the Packers dropping 34 points on them last Sunday, is sure to have it's growing pains. Yet, as Belichick noted Wednesday, the Bills' defense kept their two games close, atleast for a while.

"I look at the players that are there and I see a good defense. They're big, they're physical, they play hard and they're tough to move the ball against", praised Belichick. "[They] had a couple tough losses against Miami and Green Bay. I thought they really played both teams very well and things got away from them a little bit there in the end of the third quarter against Green Bay".

It's true. Buffalo put up a good fight in both their losses. They kept it close against the Dolphins losing only 15-10 and they were at least within striking distance against a very good Packers team at half-time, trailing only 13-7.

The Bills clear strength is their secondary. Led by last year's pro-bowler and ball hawk, Jairus Byrd, who is now in his second year, the Bills can be disruptive to opposing wide receivers. Though they were beat in so many different ways last Sunday, they were able to keep the Packers' main threat, Greg Jennings, from putting up big numbers.

The Bills gave New England plenty of trouble last year as well.

Both times the Patriots faced the Bills in 2009, the Patriots won but it was close. And that was a bad Bills team that had to struggle its way to win six games. Everyone remembers the first game, the Bills had the game wrapped up before a vintage-Brady and Leodis McKelvin fumble gave the Pats a miracle come from behind win.

The second game in Week 15 was not so memorable. It was the 2009 Patriots' lone road win and it wasn't pretty. The Patriots held a 17-3 lead through the first three quarters, which was largely helped by 11 Buffalo penalties for 127 yards. Yet, the Bills were able to make it a one score game with a late touchdown drive. The Patriots held on to win but it was less than spectacular. It turned out to be Tom Brady's worst game of the year. Yes, even worse than how he fared in the abysmal game against the Saints or even the Jets in week 2. Brady finished that Buffalo game with 115 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

The Bills didn't roll over for other AFC east rivals either, they split their series with both the Jets and Dolphins - even blowing out Miami 31-14 in Week 12.

They may not be the best team in the league, but they shouldn't be taken lightly either.

Like the Jets last year, (whom - tired of being subordinates to the Patriots - called their week 2 match-up their super bowl) the Bills are fed up with New England's dominance. After losing the 13th straight game to the Patriots last year, Bills' safety Donte Whitner said, "Very sick of losing to the Patriots...They have a little swagger about themselves because they know they've beaten us so many times".

Though the Patriots will be looking to take out some frustration from last week's loss, expect the Bills to give their best effort. This one may be a little harder than you think. Then again, it is the Bills.

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