Three Bills vs. Patriots Storylines

With the Bills on a cusp of a new NFL season, a Week 1 matchup against the New England Patriots seems like an uphill battle from the start. It’s a well-known fact that the Bills are 3-23 against the Patriots since the start of the decade and in order to be respected, the new regime must even things out. Opening the season against a perennial power like the Patriots will be a benchmark test for a fledgling Bills squad looking to verify themselves. If the Bills plan on upsetting the Patriots at the Ralph, here is how it must be done.

EJ Manuel:

This should serve as a surprise to absolutely no one. In order for the Bills to dethrone the Patriots on Sunday, EJ Manuel is going to have to play well. With a veteran coach like Belichick organizing New England’s defense, Manuel is going to have to limit his mistakes on Sunday afternoon. Being 100% healthy is exactly what the Bills offense is going to need for Nathaniel Hackett to open the playbook.

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

C.J. Spiller:

If the Bills are going to beat anyone this season, let alone the Patriots, Spiller is going to have to be productive. The last four times the Bills have played the Patriots, Buffalo averaged 28 points, 111 rush yards, 331 pass yards, and 442 total yards per game. It’s clear that the Patriots defense hasn’t exactly stifled the Bills. The offense will have to utilize a heavy dosage of Spiller in all phases of the play calling to keep the Patriots off rhythm.

Mike Pettine:

This may come across as odd considering Pettine is the defensive coordinator and not a player. Nonetheless, Pettine will have to orchestrate a top-notch game plan to slow the Brady Bunch down without the Bills number one cornerback and the possibility that Jairus Byrd might be out as well. The Patriots offense will be of no surprise to Pettine considering he served as the Jets defensive coordinator from 2009-2012. In that era, the Jets did witness some success going 3-6 against the Patriots including an AFC Divisional playoff victory. The defense will need to slow Brady down and force some turnovers if this is going to be a competitive match, but Pettine is capable of organizing the attack.

All in all, the Bills will be in a battle as 10-point underdogs in their own stadium on Sunday. Ralph Wilson Stadium will be rocking and the fans will create an electric atmosphere for the team to feed off of, but the question remains whether or not the Bills can hang with the Patriots for all four quarters and pull off the upset at home. On offense, Buffalo possesses the necessary weapons to attack the Patriots’ defense and continue to apply pressure via a no-huddle approach. Things become more complicated for the Bills on the defensive side of the ball considering they have to line up against Brady. Although there will be no Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, or Wes Welker, Brady is still Brady and he will be effective. If the Bills prevail on Sunday with a win, look for the defense to step up and force Brady into making errors. With a new coaching staff, front office, and quarterback, the excitement of the unknown will be on hand Sunday at the Ralph.