Patriots Must Stop Bills Run Game
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Patriots Must Stop Bills Run Game

Stopping the Bills two-headed running attack of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson will be a top priority for New England in the season opener.

By Kevin Saleeba

The strength of the Buffalo Bills offense is their running game.

With the Bills starting a rookie quarterback in E.J. Manuel Sunday, the Patriots will focus on stopping the two headed rushing attack of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

"Those are two great players that we have to do a phenomenal job against in this game to try to stop," Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said this week.

Jackson has battled some recent injuries, opening the door for Spiller to emerge as one of the top NFL running threats.

However, Jackson enters the 2013 season healthy with something to prove. Throughout his career, he has showed explosive versatility as a power rusher, while displaying tremendous elusiveness running the ball. In six seasons, Jackson rushed for 4,231 yards with an average 4.5 yards per carry and 19 touchdowns.
Fred Jackson running against the Patriots(Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE)

When Jackson was placed on injured reserve due to a leg injury last season, Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards on only 207 carries and scored 6 touchdowns. He finished the season with nearly 6.1 yards per carry average.

Stopping both players will be difficult for New England.

"Fred Jackson is someone that we have familiarity with as far as his explosive play ability and his ability to change a game," said Patricia.

Spiller does everything Jackson can do on the field, but he may do it better. Spiller has the added dimension of being a skilled receiver out of the backfield.

"(Spiller) is one of the most explosive players in the league," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "He can run inside, run outside, he's an excellent receiver. He can take a short pass, a screen pass and go a long way or he can line up and run a post-pattern or a go-pattern … He's a tough matchup."

Whoever carries the ball for Buffalo, Jackson or Spiller, the Patriots will have a tough time making a tackle on these dynamic rushers.

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Kevin Saleeba is the senior editor and columnist for Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba