Very hard to get a handle on this game....emotionally. On the logical side the Bills are a worthy opponent and needs to be respected, but as a fan, its hard to get up for a team you've seen beaten 15 times in a row. Besides, over time, the Bills have become the try hard, lovable losers of the division. A working class team, from a working class town, with a QB from Harvard, the owners of the Stevie Johnson legend, and BB's favorite RB. So while every rational thread in your body is telling you that this is a team that can beat the Pats for all the reasons we will discuss below, somehow its hard to get past the mindset of the last eight years. So while we know it CAN happen, we will all be very surprised IF it does. And btw, if it does happen, and we are honest with ourselves, there will be a small part of us, the part that grew up loving the try hard, underdog ethos of so many Pats teams of the first 3 decades of its history, which will smile, if only for a second, at the Bills accomplishment. Concerns: 1. Injuries - While it won't be much of a story for the national media (and that's what BB wants) the Pats are likely to be down several starters for this game.on both sides of the ball. a. Volmer's injury is the one that bothers me the most. Not for just tomorrow, but long term. The back is a tricky thing to have hurt. While Solder's faster than expected development makes the RT position as solid as if Volmer was playing, it hurts our depth in 2 ways. One we will be in big trouble if Light or Solder go down. Secondly, I would have thought that if Volmer had played, Solder would have had a BIG role as the Blocking TE against a teams whose major weakness this year has been setting the edge. Now I have no idea who will play that role....or how well they will play it. b. Chung's likelihood of playing dimmed a bit with Ventrone's promotion., but even if he'd played his productivity would have been severely diminished by the cast on his hand. Especially for a guy who tends to use a lot of "hands on" techniques when he's in pass coverage. The same goes for Barrett c. If that's not enough, its clear to us that Arrington, Boddin, and Dowling, will all be playing with assorted Dings...if they play. I don't know how to say it, but our already thin secondary has been decimated. d. I don't know too many teams, if any, who could lose their starting C AND RT and not skip a beat. Our depth may be painfully thin at this moment, but is anyone worried at ALL about the 2 guys who are replacing Koppen and Volmer. I truly believe that if neither gets hurt, the OL will show NO drop in productivity. e. Its kind of gone under the radar that we are also getting hit up on the DL. We have lost Pryor for the year, and its not looking good for Wright. Not a lot of team would be able to recover from losing 2 key guys in their DL rotation and have it hardly be noticed I also worry about what we will get from Albert on Sunday....IF he plays. IIRC he didn't practice much this week. f. That's lot of holes to fill and question marks to answer, if we were playing at home, or playing a team that DIDN'T lead the league in scoring OR, had the QB with the highest QBR 3. The most successful formation, as well as the one that was used the most in the first 2 games was the 2 and 3 TE formations. Well, with Solder playing RT, can someone tell me who the 2nd TE is going to be. OR are we going to revert to the old days of the Pats of the Pats using more 3 and 4 WR sets. This concerns me because this would seem to be the game where you would want to see more of a concerted effort to run the ball and take time off the clock. Crowd nose is less of a factor when you run the ball. 2. The Bills- a. Perhaps the of all the positive stats I've heard this week, the one that both impresses me AND scares me the most, is the one that pointed out that the Bills OL has allowed only ONE sack of Fitzpatrick thus far in the first 2 games (IIRC the Pats have allowed 4 ...at least) Now 4 sacks is a pretty good number for a team that has thrown the ball close to a 100 times already this season, but to have only ONE in over 70 attempts is better still. b. BTW - while KC and Oakland may be questionable opponents, overall, they both, on paper at least. have the talent on the front seven that should have presented more of a pass rush threat than the Pats will have (on paper) Sunday. c. I'm comforted somewhat that the key to the game will be if the Pats will be able to stop the run, from the best RB in the league (at this point) If the Pats can hold the Bills to under 100 yds it will be good effort. The Pats have been pretty good at controlling the opponents run game to reasonable levels. Keys to a Pats win - nothing earth shattering here. Its the usual 1. Win the TO battle by +2. The Pats have been very good at NOT laying the ball on the ground, but have been inconsistent in creating TOs 2. No YAC. The Bill like to run a spread offense and throw relatively short passes that allow for a lot of YAC, much like the Pats. Good tackling will be very important. 3. Play the Bills special teams to a stand off. The bright spot of every Bill team has consistently been their special teams. We have to either shut them down, or rise to their level. Which will be tough since we don]t even know if we will have a punter. 4,Control the clock. This should be a no brainer, especially on the road, but we haven't done it much thus far. Most of our scoring drives run in the 3-5 minute range, rather than the 7-10 minute variety that makes life easy for the defense. What we should look for. On offense: With only one TE available, we should see OCHO be targeted over 5 times. and a lot more 3 and 4 WR sets On Defense - We will start with rushing 4 and playing a 5 under tight zone to force Fitzgerald to throw the ball deep into the 2 deep safeties. The key to the success of that will be to keep the TE from splitting the coverage in the seam. One way to do this is to make Fitzgerald think he has 2 deep, and after the snap wind up in cover 3 That way he will be throwing right into coverage (a LB underneath and a S over the top) I think we will blitz a little more (up from only about 10%) disguising Defenses and coming off the corners and late stems up the middle- It will depend on how successful the CBs are being physical with the Bill WRs Results- We have played from ahead so often the last few years, I'd almost like to see us overcome some early adversity and win this thing in comeback fashion. Time to test our Mental Toughness. The all the injuries affords us the chance to see if we can be tougher than that 2009 team we saw in the BB documentary This will be a very good test.