10 Things to Watch for - Bills Vs Patriots

1.)The Bills' attitude and emotions: This is the first game of the season for a very young Buffalo Bills team and there is a good chance that the team could come out too amped-up. That could lead to mental mistakes that the Bills simply cannot afford to make against a team of the caliber of the Patriots.

JP Losman, in particular, has admitted that when he gets too excited, he loses focus and his footwork and technique in passing the ball suffers dramatically.

Will JP be too-amped up to start the game? And, if so, will he be able to get his emotions under control? Similarly, if the Bills fall behind, will they continue to play hard or will they get down on themselves and give up?

The Bills' defense gave up in more than one game last season when faced with adversity. How will this team react when things don't go right? The Bills gave up long TD drives in each of their first three preseason games, they can't afford to do that and fall behind the Pats on the road if they want to have a chance to win this game. They must be ready to play, but not too psyched-up to play smart and hard football.

2.) How will the Bills offensive line play?:

For the Bills to have any chance in this game, their offensive line must protect JP Losman and give Willis McGahee some holes to run through. The Bills offense will have to put up points and keep their defense off the field and the key to doing that will be the play of their offensive line against a formidable defensive front seven.

normal_img007_1.jpg3.) How well will JP Losman play?:

After his poor play last season and the QB competition that he won in the preseason, fairly or unfairly, all eyes will be on JP Losman. To be competitive this season, the Bills will need competent play from the QB position from JP. Can he keep his emotions under control and deliver? Which JP Losman will show up—the one who completed only 49.9% of his passes last season or the one who completed 67% of his passes in the preseason? Can JP run the offense and keep from turning the ball over? The answer will determine whether the Bills will have a chance to make this game interesting.

4.) Will the Bills be able to run the football?:

It won't be easy to run on the Pats, but the Bills will have to have enough success running the ball to keep the Patriots defense honest and their own defense on the sidelines. They don't need to have a lot of big gains, but they need to be able to move the ball enough to be effective. When the Bills have been able to do that against the Pats in the past, they have kept the games close and had their chances to win. When they have not, they have been blown out.

5.) Can the Bills defense stop the Patriots' running game?:

If the Bills cannot do a better job of stopping the run with their new defensive system than they did last year, they have little chance to win this season and no chance to stay competitive in this game. While they don't have to dominate against the run, they do have to keep the Pats from being able to use their running game to dictate the pace of the game, which will allow Tom Brady to pick-and-choose how he wants to attack them in the passing game.

6.) Can the Bills find a way to keep Watson and Graham under control?:

With Tom Brady throwing the ball, the Patriots' TEs have the potential to dominate the game. Can the Bills find a way to prevent them from doing this? If they do not, the Pats could put up a lot of points in this game.

7.) Can the Bills keep their turnovers and penalties to a minimum?:

A young team like the Bills, playing on the road, cannot afford to have a lot of penalties or turnovers. The Bills, especially their QBs, turned the ball over far too much last season and in the preseason for the team to beat a good team like New England. They simply can't turn the ball over. The same with penalties. In recent years the Bills have taken a lot of stupid, unnecessary penalties at critical times in their games. They started to do so again in the preseason until HC Jauron made an issue of it prior to their last game. They must continue to improve in this area to have any hope of keeping this game close.


Will the Bills new coaching staff be able to make good, timely adjustments during the game? Last year the Bills' coaching staff was worse than atrocious at making timely in-game adjustments. They were constantly "a day late and a dollar short" as they insisted on trying to out-fox their opponents and ended up out-foxing and confusing their own team. Teams are constantly making adjustments in their play-calling during the course of NFL games and the best teams are often the ones that make the best in-game adjustments. The Pats, under Bill Belichick, have been superb at it. During the preseason, Dick Jauron and his staff made some very good in-game adjustments that were better than any made during the course of last season by Mike Mularkey's staff. Can Jauron's staff make good, timely adjustments during the game and keep ahead of the adjustments that Belichick and his staff make?

9.) Will the Bills' offense and defense play well enough to give their special teams a chance to influence the outcome of the game?:

The Bills have the better special teams, but their special teams can only influence the outcome of the game if the offense and defense take advantage of the edge in field position that the special teams units are able to give them. And, the special teams can only score decisive points or set up a decisive score if the offense and defense do their jobs well enough to keep the game close. Will the Bills play well enough to be able to make the most of their advantage on special teams?

10.) Will the Patriots be hurt by the loss of Adam Vinatieri and the absence of Deion Branch?:

How many players can the Patriots lose from the core of the team that won three Super Bowls before they start to slip? It's a question that a lot of people are asking. Vinatieri and Branch are two players who played key roles in their championships. As good as Tom Brady is and as excellent as Bill Belichick has been as a head coach, can the Pats win without Vinatieri and Branch—and the other players, like McGinest, Givens, etc., that they have lost this offfseason or have they finally lost too much of the core of their team?

Buffalo Football Report Top Stories