Game 3: Bills vs. Patriots
The Bills and Patriots renew their rivalry after both teams had a bye in week 3. The Patriots are looking for an NFL record tying 18th straight victory. The Bills are looking to right the ship after falling to 0-2 in Oakland. It is a must win for the Bills if they want to salvage their season but it will be a tall order against the world champs.
FACTS AND FIGURES
||Buffalo (0-2) vs. New England (2-0)
||Ralph Wilson Stadium
||Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, & Seth Davis
||Pats by 5 1/2
||Patriots lead 47-40-1 (0-1 Postseason)
||Patriots 31-0 in New England (2003)
||Rush (8th); Pass (6th); overall (5th)
||Rush (23rd); Pass (9th); overall (14th)
||Rush (29th); Pass (26th); overall (29th)
||Rush (4th); Pass (t-6th); overall (4th)
The Bills continue to be a healthy team. Lawyer Milloy remains out with a broken forearm although he will try to be ready to play his former team it appears he will be out again. J.P. Losman remains out until at least mid season with a broken leg. Shaud Williams hurt his knee in practice last week and is out. Two offensive linemen are questionable with injuries, Chris Villarial and Mike Pucillo. If Villarial can't start, Ross Tucker will but he is expected to be ok.
The Patriots lost WR Deion Branch to a leg injury in their week 2 victory against Arizona. He will likely be miss the game, David Givens would take his place and Troy Brown would see more time in three receiver sets if Branch can't go. 1st round pick TE Ben Watson missed the Arizona game with a knee injury and has been placed on injured reserve. He is the third string TE and is not a big loss at this point in his career. RB Kevin Faulk missed the first two games with a knee injury and the death of his mother. He is now back with the team but is questionable. Dana Stubblefield is on injured reserve with an ankle injury and is out for the season.
Bills Daily Injury Page
RT Mike Williams vs. OLB Willie McGinest:
Williams continues to struggle and will have to watch out for the blitzing McGinest. He leads the Patriots with three sacks and will surely blitz from the outside to take advantage of the slow footed Williams.
LB Takeo Spikes vs. TE Daniel Graham:
Graham has had a nose for the end zone with three scores in two games. Spikes is likely the guy that will cover Graham in the red zone and will need to use all his coverage skills to keep him from scoring.
QB Drew Bledsoe vs. MLB Tedy Bruschi:
Bruschi is always around the ball and always seems to make the big play and the right time. Bledsoe will have to account for him on every play to avoid potential turnovers.
WR Eric Moulds vs. CB Ty Law:
Moulds always says that Law is the toughest corner in the league and the two have had some classic battles over the years. Look for the Bills to move Moulds around to get a matchup advantage against the other corner, Tyrone Pool.
RE Aaron Schobel vs. LT Matt Light:
Schobel is off to a slow start this year after signing the big contract just before opening day. He has no sacks and needs to get it going to give the Bills a chance. He is going against one of the better tackles in the league in Light this week.
K Rian Lindell vs. K Adam Vinatieri:
These two do not face off against each other obviously but it is a matchup to watch. If the game is close down the stretch the Patriots have one of the game's best clutch kickers. Lindell has struggled since coming to Buffalo giving New England a huge edge here.
When The Bills Have The Ball: The big battle for the much maligned offense will be keeping Bledsoe upright. The Patriots are sure to come at them with some well designed and disguised blitz packages. Bledsoe needs to react quickly and beat the blitz early to get the Patriots to back off a bit. The best way to do this is to establish a running game early to get them in good second and third down situations. This is possible since the Patriots run defense struggled in their first two outings.
When The Patriots Have The Ball: Look for the Patriots to mix up the run and the pass. If they can establish Corey Dillon early that will open up play action. Tom Brady is excellent at that and the Bills safeties are known to bite on them so that will most likely be their gameplan.
BILLS DAILY PREDICTION
All conventional wisdom leads you to believe the Patriots will tie the NFL record with their 18th consecutive win. Both teams have had two weeks to get ready so they should both be well prepared. Bill Belichik is arguably the best coach in the game and giving him two weeks to prepare could be bad news for the Bills. The Bills are desperate for a victory and the Patriots are due to lose. The Bills will need to play a near perfect game to win this week. They stressed the mistakes they made in the first two weeks over the bye, I think that they were listening and will stop shooting themselves in the foot. In the NFL on any given Sunday anybody can win. So even though it makes no sense whatsoever I'm picking the Bills to pull off a monumental upset to save their season:
Bills 17, Patriots 14
Season Prediction Record: (1-1)
Season Record Against The Spread: (0-2)
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