By: Russ Goldman
Before each Patriots game this season, as a preview I will be providing my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory. So be sure to check back each week, as the plan will be to release this every Saturday morning. Here’s this week’s edition.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on CBS. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
GAME NOTES: The Bills are coming off of a bad 34-7 loss at Green Bay last weekend, and after having lost both of their games this season and are 0-2. This is a team in transition. Unfortunately for Bills fans this season could be a difficult one to watch. However, the Bills tend to give the Patriots a tough game whether it is home or on the road, and I still think New England is going to have to play well to win.
On defense, the Bills still have a very good group of defensive backs. Donte Whitner and Terrence McGee should be taken seriously, and Tom Brady needs to be aware of them on the field. Up front they still have Marcus Stroud who can be a force, and cause problems for the offense. Their defense despite the loss of Aaron Schobel is also still solid.
On offense, the Bills have their issues. They certainly will be able to run the ball. They have three real good backs in Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and CJ Spiller. The problem they will have on offense will be in the passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting in the place of Trent Edwards. He is an average quarterback at best.
The running game is where the Bills offense will need to concentrate on if they want to win. I don’t think it will be with their passing game.
This game is really a “must win” for the Patriots. They can’t afford to lose to this team in the division. New England should win this one, but I don’t think it will be as easy as many think.
Here are my “five keys” for this week that I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots need to stop the run. With the Bills going with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback I have a feeling they will be running the ball a good amount. All three of their backs have the potential to give the Pats problems.
However, I am confident that the Pats can shut down their running game. The majority of the yards the Jets got against the Pats were in the second half when the Patriots were in their sub packages. As long as the Pats are in their base 3-4 defense I think they can stop them on the ground.
2. The Pats need to put serious pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick. I really think the Pats should throw the kitchen sink at the Bills quarterback. They need to make him as uncomfortable as possible. I would blitz him from somewhere on every passing down. The Pats over the years have rattled average quarterbacks with different looks and increased pressure.
3. The Pats need to get the tight ends involved in the game. This is a game where I think the Pats should really involve Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. The strength of the Bills defense has to be the defensive backs. The tight ends could have a field day in the middle of the field as they will probably be covered by their linebackers. If you get the tight ends involved it could also make it easier to get the ball to the wide receivers. This is a perfect game to show how diverse the Pats passing game could be.
4. The Pats need to make an effort to run the ball. I think the Patriots can run the ball on the Bills. If the Pats can make an effort in the running game, it could really open up their entire offense against the Bills. The Pats don’t need a completely balanced attack, but they need to show the Bills a commitment to the running game.
5. The Pats need to score touchdowns in the redzone. With an opponent that is offensively challenged you don’t want to be kicking field goals. You want to put them away early. It is imperative that the Pats take advantage of their redzone opportunities.
If the Pats score touchdowns early and often the game could be over at halftime. That is why redzone efficiency is vital against the Bills. You don’t want let them stay in the game.
I really think this is a game the Patriots should take care of by halftime. The Pats have too much offense, and the Bill do not have enough scoring power. I am predicting a 31-14 victory for the Pats against the Bills.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section and I look forward to reading them.