Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:
Business Trips and Super Bowls: Make no mistake, the game today between the Patriots and the Bills is a big one. It is a divisional game and both teams have designs on the postseason in 2015. So every win counts, but also remember it is only Week 2. Bill Belichick and the Patriots are treating this game like any other, a business trip on the road against a tough team.
The Bills on the other hand are treating this like Super Bowl week. We’ve seen everything from billboards on the highway and carwashes with anti-New England rhetoric promoting the game as a “must win” contest. Even the Bills Pro-shop is buying in, selling air-pumps in a lame attempt at a Deflategate jab at Tom Brady.
Behind it all is Rex Ryan, whipping up the masses in upstate New York, calling for the loudest stadium ever, and bringing in the people from Guinness World Records to see if the Orchard Park fans can break some record. The problem is now all this hoopla has spilled over to their players.
The Bills players have begun chirping to the media about New England and that’s all fine and dandy, but their talking rings hollow for a team that is 3-23 against Brady. Last season the game in Buffalo was played up huge for the team and the fans and with much the same roster that will suit up on defense for the Bills, Brady hung 37 points on them.
There’s a reason the Super Bowl is played on the last game of the year and Ryan should remember all too well what happens when you play yours in mid-season.
What happens when you win your Super Bowl in September?
The last time Ryan beat New England was in 2013 an overtime 30-27 victory in the infamous “pushing penalty” game. Remember the pushing penalty? The last obscure rule the NFL decided to test on the Patriots and was promptly never heard from again.
But back to the game; after their win over Belichick and the Patriots, Ryan and his players hooped it up all week, still yapping about the game late into the week. But the regular season still was on-going and the Jets had Cincinnati on the schedule the next week. The result ? …a 40-point loss, 49-9 against the Bengals.
Miami last year, thumped the Patriots in Week 1 when the team wilted in the second half 33-20. The Dolphins were still taking victory laps late in the week and went to Buffalo on the road and got thumped in return 29-10.
This week is a contrast in styles between the coaches in Belichick and Ryan. One has been there and taken his team to the pinnacle four times, the latter is all about the hype but has never won even a division title. Here’s a question, what happens if you lose your Super Bowl in Week 2? What then? A trip to Miami awaits in Week 3…be watching that one closely.
Injury Report – Blount Back, Wendell Still Out: Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount returns from his one-game suspension and will suit up today for the Patriots. But veteran offensive lineman Ryan Wendell is out again, this time with what is being reported as an illness.
That means that the Pats offensive line will be populated with three rookies in the interior and facing one of the better defensive lines in football. The onus will be on Brady to get rid of the ball very quickly today.
Dominique Easley returned to practice on Friday after leaving the Pittsburgh game early in the first quarter with what is being reported as a hip pointer. But he’s also doubtful to play against the Bills.
Look for Gronk to Get Plenty of Attention: While he certainly won’t be facing King Kong this week, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski won’t be feeling lonely when he’s on the field today. Look for the Bills and Ryan to give Gronkowski lots of attention no matter where he goes on the field.
Gronkowski has had unparalleled success against the Bills in the past and they…and Ryan know that he’s a big, big part, literally and figuratively of the Patriots offense. How they matchup, and they’ll probably switch things up quite a bit, will be one of the keys to watch in the game.
The “X”-Factor in this game is former Bills tight end Scott Chandler. With a lot of the focus on Gronkowski, Chandler is a big target in his own right and could be in line for a big game today.
Martin Set to Be A Key KR: The Patriots traded with the Houston Texans this week for KR/WR Keshawn Martin. The Patriots gave up a 5th round pick and besides Martin also got a 6th round draft pick in return.
With only three healthy receivers …plus Martin on the active roster, it will make sense for Martin to take over the key return duties normally held by Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
Martin could find his way into the offense; the Texans run a similar scheme under Bill O’Brien. The Texans head coach is the former Pats offensive coordinator. But for now, he’ll play behind Edelman, Amendola and Aaron Dobson.
East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:
Miami Looks to Open Up Offense Against Jax: The Dolphins (1-0), were lackluster of offensive last week in their opener against the Washington Redskins. They scored only 17 points with the winning margin coming on a Jarvis Landry 69-yard punt return. The Fins could only manage 256 yards on offense last week.
This week they’re playing the Jaguars who were equally unimpressive last week in Carolina and are beat up especially on defense. Blake Bortles was sacked five times and Jags defense gave up three drives to the Panthers of 12 plays or more.
This one is setting up to be a blowout for a Miami team looking to go 2-0.
Jets Dealing With Two Big Injuries Before MNF Matchup With Indy: The Jets (1-0), have a tough matchup this week facing the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. The Colts were embarrassed last week in Buffalo and were totally dominated in all phases of the game.
Now the team many picked to go to the Super Bowl this season doesn’t want to fall into a 0-2 hole and will look to right the ship against the Jets. The Jets leading rusher last week Chris Ivory was injured in practice this week and is questionable. So is starting right cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
Both would be significant losses if they can’t go this week. If Cromartie is out, he’ll be replaced by either Buster Skrine or Marcus Williams and they’ll see plenty of action as Andrew Luck will try to stay away from Darrelle Revis on the left side.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Jabaal Sheard Julian Edelman LeSean McCoy Malcolm Butler Marcell Dareus New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Patriots Training Camp Photos Rex Ryan Rob Gronkowski Rob Ninkovich Scott Chandler Tom Brady Trey Flowers Tyrod Taylor