First and Five: New England Patriots
First and Five: New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills fans can’t be too excited to head to Foxboro this week. The New England Patriots have supplied a high dose of embarrassment and defeat ever since quarterback Tom Brady came to town. Some of the Bills most brutal losses have come to the Patriots and the franchise can’t seem to find the answers. It can’t be all, head coach, Chan Gailey’s fault, as the coaches before him couldn’t find the answers either.
For a team that was considered to be a playoff contender heading into the season, a win against the Patriots to keep their hopes alive is the only thing that can turn this ship around. If the Bills fail to pull out a victory, which, as 11.5 point underdogs this week, doesn’t seem likely, they will have put themselves out of a playoff spot. Even the “easy” wins against the Miami Dolphins don’t see so easy anymore.
The Patriots are a better team than they were six weeks ago when they made a second half comeback like no other and scored on six consecutive drives to defeat the Bills 52-28. They are ranked first in total points and total yards, and more specifically, ranked 5th in passing yards and 4th in rushing yards. If the Bills have any hope to come out victorious, they will need the defense to have a much better game than the last one in September.
In week 4 against the Patriots, the Bills defense allowed 247 rushing yards and 333 yards passing with a grand total of 580 yards, one of their worst performances in franchise history. The Bills will need to have the mental toughness that the players have been calling for but I just don’t know if they have it in them under Gailey. Wake me when it’s over.
1- Feature C.J. Spiller
If there has ever been a time that head coach, Gailey, has been getting heat, it was after leaving Houston and losing a game that many expected to be a blow-out, but ended up being a manageable game. Gailey played a pass aggressive offense that only handed the ball to star running back, Spiller, six times. To make matters worse, the ball was only handed to Fred Jackson six times as well. The last time the Bills played the Patriots in September, both Spiller and Jackson were playing coming off of injuries and were splitting carries every other drive. They combined for a total of 62 yards between the two. Expect Spiller to be featured this week and prove that he is a top running back this week. If Gailey doesn’t utilize Spiller this week, he may lose any last straggling support he may have.
2- Find a way to win in Foxboro
Gillette Stadium opened its doors in 2002 to the Patriots, and having played Buffalo once a year, New England has never lost at home to the Bills. The ironic thing is that the Bills, statistically, play better when traveling to Foxboro. Bills fans still have the bitter taste on their tongue of the loss on Monday Night Football in 2009 where the Bills dominated the entire game and then lost in the final minutes, after Leodis McKelvin fumbled on special teams and handed the Patriots the momentum to win the game 25-24.In order to get back into competitive play in the division, the Bills need divisional wins on the road. So far this season, the Bills have only two wins on the road to the Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals.
3- Defense needs another good game
Last week, the Bills defense redeemed themselves slightly, holding the Houston Texans to only 7 points by the end of the first half. Unfortunately, the offense was unable to get things going instead and finished the day with only three field goals. Under the attack of Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, the defense will have to defend in hopes the offense will have more success putting points on the board. Brady will target the young and unreliable corners for sure and Rob Gronkowski will most likely have a good day as well. One thing can be sure though, and that is that the Bills defense cannot give up 243 yards rushing to Brandon Bolden and Steven Ridley. That can’t happen again if the Bills have a shot.
4- Leodis McKelvin needs to take advantage of second chances
Speaking of Leodis McKelvin, not only is he looking to have a redemption game against a team that has to hurt a little more, he will be given a second chance as he is slated to start this week in place of injured Aaron Williams, and recent injured reserved Terrence McGee. While his role on special teams is being a dynamic player with the potential to put points on the board, the same can be said on defense as well, but usually for the other team. McKelvin has had a rough go trying to defend opposing receivers, especially Patriots receivers. McKelvin needs to step up and defend against the short passing game that usually dominates the Bills.
5- Young receivers need to step up
Stevie will be fine and will most likely play, however, he will be hurt and if things go like they did last week in Houston, Stevie will have a rough time. Johnson started off fired up and ready to go last week against the Texans, but then suffered a bruise to his thigh that hindered him the rest of the game. He ended the day with 29 yards on 3 catches. This week, the Bills will need their young receivers to step up and make-up for any injuries that Stevie is battling through.
T.J. Graham has yet to have a big day and Fitzpatrick does pretty well against the Patriots defense. In his past three games against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, he has thrown for 1026 yards and 8 touchdowns. Fitztpatrick should look for some one on one match-ups with Graham down the sideline. At this point, many are wondering what they have to lose. Also, Bills have activated wide receiver Marcus Easley to the 53-man roster after injuries and some movement this week with the practice squad. Easley has yet to play in an NFL game and people are excited to see if he can bring some explosion. The offense will need to make big plays to stay competitive with the Patriots.
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