This is a game of two teams going in different directions. The New England Patriots are a surprising 4-4 when many people predicted they would wallow in the cellar of the AFC East. That place belongs to the Bills who took a major step backwards in their loss to the Colts last week at home. The Patriots have had a resurgence behind backup QB Tom Brady who continues to play very well winning four of six games since starter Drew Bledsoe went down after taking a vicious hit against the Jets. Last week former Bill Antowain Smith ran for 117 yards in leading the Patriots to a win over the Falcons.
Facts and Figures
We've been saying it for a few weeks now but it seems the Bills are finally getting healthy. The much maligned, and injured offensive line may have three starters back this week including Jerry Ostroski for the first time this year. If John Fina and Jonas Jennings also return than there will be some roster shuffling on the line for the better. Other injuries of note include Leif Larsen, Tony Driver, and Jeremy McDaniel. Larsen has missed a few games with a dislocated elbow and McDaniel was supposed to return last week from a high ankle sprain but he was inactive. There is a chance all non-injured reserve players will be healthy enough to dress this week.
The Patriots will be without starting QB Drew Bledsoe once again as he remains out with a chest injury suffered week 3 of the season. Problem child Terry Glenn is closer to returning from a hamstring injury but we may not know about his availability until gameday. Bill hater Bryan Cox missed last week's game with a leg injury.
For complete injury news throughout the week and the Official NFL Injury Report go to our Injury Page.
MLB Brandon Spoon vs. RB Antowain Smith: Smith's career is enjoying a resurgence in New England and he would like nothing better than to stick it to the Bills who he felt never gave him a chance last year or this off season. Spoon is in the game for his run support and he needs to know where Smith is at all times.
WR Eric Moulds vs. CB Otis Smith: This matchup is a big advantage for the Bills. He will see some double teams but Moulds needs to become the playmaker that he was last year and this would be a good week to start.
TE Jay Riemersma vs. SS Lawyer Milloy: Riemersma will have to beat one of the best strong safeties in the game when he goes out in pass patterns. When he stays in, he may have to block Milloy on the safety blitzes.
RT Jonas Jennings or Marques Sullivan vs. LE Bobby Hamilton: Hamilton has five sacks on the year for the Patriots and he is probably licking his chops for the much maligned Bills offensive line. If Jennings returns and is healthy he will need to slow down Hamilton.
DT Pat Williams vs. C Damien Woody: Williams needs to get a good push in the middle of the line for the Bills to have success defensively. Woody is a former first round pick and is a developing star at center for the Patriots so it will be a tough task.
When The Bills Have The Ball: The players are crying out for the running game so expect the head coach to give it to them this week. They will use a healthy dose of Travis Henry to keep the defense honest and open up the passing game for Rob Johnson. Defenses have success against the Bills by blitzing and the Patriots did just that effectively last week against the Falcons for nine sacks. Expect the Bills to have a gameplan of short passes and draw plays to beat the blitz.
When The Patriots Have The Ball: Brady has played very well and expect him to go to the air often. They will recognize however that Smith wants revenge and they have settled on him as the feature back. They will try to keep the momentum going that they gained last week by running the ball well. Expect the Bills defense to play a bit more aggressive this week than they have in the past few weeks since the Patriots have less offensive weapons than the Bills have seen recently.
Bills Daily Prediction
If history is any indication this will be a close game since the last three meetings between these two teams went to overtime. The Patriots are much improved and the crowd will be pumped as will their starting running back who wants revenge in the worst way. The Bills are a better team on the road as Johnson seems to play better away from the pressure of the home fans. The Expect the Bills to play well this week after last week's debacle but the Patriots are just flat out better: Patriots 20, Bills 16
Season Prediction Record: (3-4)
Season Record Against The Spread: (3-4)
Complete Statistical Matchup
Game Analysis and Review - Coming Monday!
Positional Breakdown and Grades - Coming Monday!
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