First and Five- Against the Patriots

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Buffalo Bills First and Five against Patriots

Buffalo Bills
Mark Konezny- US Presswire

The New England Patriots head to Buffalo to take on the Buffalo Bills this week. Who would have thought going into week four that the Bills would be holding a better record at 2-1 than the Patriots at 1-2. While I still think that we have not seen the last of Tom Brady and the Patriots reign of terror, this may be a year that the Bills can take advantage of some personnel issues that seem to be causing the Patriots slide so far this season. This week we will take a look at the five things that Buffalo must do in order to stand up to the big man on campus and go two games ahead in a short NFL season.

1- Must win a division match-up Last year, the Bills pulled off a huge upset by beating the Patriots at home in a 21 point comeback but then lost the rest of their division match-ups. The Bills have had tough luck against the division. Prior to last year’s win, Buffalo had lost 15 straight games to the Patriots, which was the third longest streak in NFL history. To make matters worse, their division record during the last 11 seasons is 18-36. They also have not had a division winning record since 2007 but finished up the season with a 7-9 record and then the following season they then went on to finish 0-6 in the division. If the Bills are for real, like many people are saying, they need to start winning division games or they will not be able to earn a playoff berth this season either.

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Buffalo Bills First and Five against Patriots

Buffalo Bills
Rick Osentoski- US Presswire

2- Offensive Line needs a stand out performance The offensive line is quietly standing in the background as a strong and solid line. Most of the focus has been on the defensive line, but so far, the offensive line has been a bright spot. This season, Ryan Fitzpatrick has only been sacked once (best in the NFL) and that sack is even questionable. The only sack listed is a ball that slipped out of Fitzpatrick’s hands in the rain against the Cleveland Browns. Fitzpatrick was untouched but credited with a sack. The Bills also have the third highest rushing yards per game, averaging 178 yards per game. With the running back situation still in the air, one thing is for sure, if it is not third string Tashard Choice leading the charge, it will be one of two injured running backs in Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller. The offensive line needs to create holes and allow the hurting backs to find a way to run the ball against the Patriots.

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Buffalo Bills First and Five against Patriots

Buffalo Bills
Kevin Hoffman-US Presswire

3- The defense needs to be physical We have seen many times that Brady struggles when he gets hit. Luckily for Mario Williams, he has had a lot of time to prepare for Brady as he has spent his last six seasons going up against Peyton Manning. Williams is no stranger to playing against elite quarterbacks. The Baltimore Ravens played a tough game against the Patriots but eventually went on to win with a strong, physical defense that made a stop at the end to help lead the offense down the field to kick the game winning field goal. In three games, Brady has been sacked 7 times. He has only thrown one interception, but last season in Buffalo, Brady threw four interceptions in their loss to the Bills. The anticipation is building as the Bills defense has improved greatly in the offseason. Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix spent a lot of money to try and get to Brady and the Patriots. Let’s see if it has paid off.

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Buffalo Bills First and Five against Patriots

Buffalo Bills
Kevin Hoffman-US Presswire

4- Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to make no mistakes As long as Fitzpatrick isn’t throwing interceptions, the Bills will stay competitive in this game. The Patriots defense has struggled so far and if Fitzpatrick can limit the mistakes it may be enough to rattle the defense. Against the Patriots, Ravens running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce averaged a combine almost 5 yards per carry. There were many missed tackles and wrong coverage by the linebackers along with no sacks and the secondary let Joe Flacco throw all over the field, allowing 382 yards and 3 touchdowns. In their last two consecutive wins, Fitzpatrick has not thrown an interception and has thrown a combined 5 touchdowns. An early lead would help calm down Fitzpatrick and with a defense who can hold onto a lead, as proven last week in Cleveland, it might be just enough to help this offense go on to 3-1.

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Buffalo Bills First and Five against Patriots

Buffalo Bills
Kevin Hoffman-US Presswire

5- Stephon Gilmore needs to not get caught watching In his first three games in the NFL, Gilmore has gotten caught up in a couple plays and offenses have picked up on it and scored touchdowns. Yes, he is a rookie, but going up against a division rivalry, that excuse isn’t going to be enough. Gilmore needs to have a solid week in practice watching film and adjusting to the short passes that the Patriots usually use when going up against the Bills defense. Assuming that Bill Belichick watched the film from the New York Jets game where the Bills were manhandled on short quick passes, it will probably be the game plan against Buffalo. Bills fans are hoping that Belichick will continue to give Wes Welker the silent treatment and that Rob Gronkowski will continue to struggle into week four.

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Buffalo Bills First and Five against Patriots

Buffalo Bills
Andrew Weber- US Presswire

What other areas do you think the Bills need to focus on this week? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Look for my wrap up article after the game to see if Buffalo was able to capitalize on my first and five analyses. You can also find my articles on twitter @christynepolle.


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