The Bills (3-5) and Patriots (5-3) will clash in another huge AFC East divisional matchup in Foxboro at 1:00 p.m. The Bills are still clinging to hope of their first playoff appearance since 1999. The Patriots, on the other hand, look to strengthen their hold over the AFC East. The last time these two teams met in Week 4 at the Ralph, the Patriots scored six straight touchdowns on a seemingly non-existent defense in the second half, erasing a 21-7 deficit. Hopefully, the only memory the Bills have from that game is the dominant first half.
What it Means
The Patriots can pretty much destroy any chances or hopes the Bills have about making the playoffs this year, making them drop to 3-6. With a win, the Patriots can strengthen their lead on the AFC East. With a Dolphins loss, the Patriots can take a two game lead over second place.
For the Bills, a win can be a huge momentum shifter for the start of the second half of the second season. A win over a division rival, and the Patriots at that, can greatly increase the confidence in the locker room, and most importantly, in Chan Gailey. To me, it seems as if Chan Gailey needs some confidence in his team to play to win games, not to play to lose them.
It may seem like a daunting task for the Bills to go into Foxboro and come out with a win, but it is a necessity if the Bills plan on making the post-season.
Matchups to Watch
Running Backs vs. Defense
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson constitute one of the most dynamic running back duos in the NFL. In order for the Bills to have offensive success, both of these running backs must touch the football. Last game, Spiller and Jackson combined to touch the football only 19 times. Spiller, the best offensive player on the team only touched the ball 6 TIMES! What kind of play calling is that? Look for Spiller and Jackson to get the ball more and make big plays.
In week 4, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden both rushed for over 100 yards and totaled for 247 yards on the ground. The Bills defense, who improved last week, only allowing 111 yards for Arian Foster, is still extremely vulnerable. They are ranked 31st overall, allowing 140.8 yards on the ground per game. If Ridley and Bolden can find holes in the Buffalo defense, we will be in for a long afternoon.
Rob Gronkowski vs. Bills Secondary
Rob Gronkowski, a Buffalo native, consistently gashes the Bills defense each time these teams play. The Bills pass defense, which allows 202.6 yards per game, struggles when it comes time to cover the 6-6 265 pound monster. In week 4 against the Bills, Gronkowski did struggle in the first half, but exploded in the second half after a Buffalo defensive collapse. In total, Gronkowski had 5 receptions for 104 yards and 1 touchdown.
The Bills Will Win If…
The defense steps up. The Bills have to get pressure on Tom Brady, but also have to be wary of the run game. The Bills also have to keep up with the Patriots no huddle offense, which ultimately lead to the demise of the defense in the first matchup. Another factor is Spiller must have the football in his hands MORE THAN 6 TIMES! The Bills can not allow the Patriots to have good field position, putting the defense into a difficult situation. Lastly, the Bills must win the possession game. If the Patriots offense is on the field for too long, the defense will not be able to hold up, resulting in Patriots points.
The Patriots Will Win If…
They consistently run the football. They exploited the Bills run defense in their first meeting, and they will certainly go after them again. Tom Brady always seems to find favorable matchups against the Bills, especially with Rob Gronkowski. If Brady is able to identify these mismatches, then the Patriots will win.
Realistically speaking, this game does not favor the Bills yet again. The Patriots are better both offensively and defensively. Overall, the Patriots do have more talent than the Bills do. Therefore, I believe that it will be difficult for the Bills to come away with a win.
I believe that the Bills will give Spiller the ball more, resulting in more offensive production. The Bills defense did a lot better last week against the Texans, but are going up against a totally different Patriots offense. I think the Bills can keep it close up to halftime, but look for a tired Buffalo defense towards the end of the second half.
The Patriots will most likely keep rolling. Look for them to exploit the Bills run defense and run a number of play action fakes as a result of their offensive success.
All in all, this game will come down to which defense plays better. Whoever can take the defensive edge and give their offense more opportunities will be the team to win the game. However, the offense must be able to capitalize on their opportunities.
Because this game is against the Patriots, and in Foxboro, I give the game to the Patriots.
Patriots win 45-21. I hope I’m wrong. Go Bills!!!