Game Day: NE Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Game Day matchup between the AFC East division rivals the (2-4) Buffalo Bills and the (4-1) New England Patriots. News, notes, quick hits, personnel changes, Fantasy report, predictions and links to everything you need to know about the week seven matchup between these AFC rivals.

New England Patriots (4-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-4)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/22/06
LOCATION: Ralph Wilson Stadium Orchard Park, NY
SURFACE: AstroPlay
WEATHER: Weather.com - Forecast Showers 49°F
Feels Like:43°F
Probability of Precipitation: 50%
Wind: From the South at 17 mph
TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

SERIES: 94th meeting. The Patriots lead the all-time series 52-40-1. New England has dominated the Bills of late, winning 11 of the previous 12 meetings, including six in a row. The Patriots prevailed against their rivals back in Week 1, 19-17. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the team has an 11-2 record against the Bills. Dating back to 1994, New England owns an 18-6 record against their AFC East counterparts.

2006 RANKINGS: Patriots: offense 10th (6th rush, 18th pass); defense 13th (8th rush, 25th pass). Bills: offense 29th (19th rush, 29th pass); defense 18th (20th rush, 18th pass)

PREDICTION: Patriots 24-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: The onus is on the Bills to make something happen to reverse recent history. Patriots QB Tom Brady is 10-1 in his career against Buffalo and New England has outscored opponents 128-58 in winning its past four road games. The biggest factor for the Bills to a chance at the upset is RB Willis McGahee. When he's running well, QB J.P. Losman is able to utilize the play-action pass and take shots downfield. But when McGahee is getting contained, the Bills usually fall behind and Losman is turnover prone while trying to force the ball downfield. Buffalo's run defense has been spotty at best since getting torched for a combined 159 yards on the ground by RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney in the first meeting of the season. The frightening prospect for the Bills is Brady is just now getting comfortable with his revamped receiving corps and is coming off a bye week in which New England was also able to begin working newly-signed Jabar Gaffney into the mix.

FAST FACTS: Patriots: Are 4-1 for the sixth time in franchise history. ... Their 52 wins against Buffalo are their most against any opponent. Bills: McGahee leads the AFC with 505 rushing yards. ... WR Peerless Price needs 30 receiving yards for 5,000 in his career.

Fantasy Reports Week 7: Patriots Insider Report : premium story NFL Experts Report : Scout Fantasy Home

GAME FORECAST


PERSONNEL NOTES

Patriots:

--Former Patriots WR Stanley Morgan talked to the media on Thursday. Morgan's team record for catches (534) is on the verge of being broken by Troy Brown. "He reminds me so much of myself," Morgan said. "He's a team player, number one. And that's the one thing I really like about him more than anything. He's always done what is asked of him. He doesn't complain and he goes out and does whatever it takes to get the job done. So that is probably the biggest thing I admire about him. If anybody was going to break it, I'm glad it's Troy."

--For the third day in a row, OL Russ Hochstein wasn't present for the media-access portion of practice. Hochstein was listed as questionable on the Friday's injury report with a knee injury. He has been downgraded to out for Sunday's game.

-- OL Billy Yates has been promoted from the Patriots practice squad to the active roster and will serve as the the team's reserve lineman in Hochstein's place. Yates has experience at both center and guard

-- OL Nick Kaczur, who missed some practice time during the week and was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report was downgraded to out for Sunday's game against the Bills. In his place, rookie OT Ryan O'Callaghan is expected to get the start at RT with young veteran Wesley Britt the backup for both O'Callaghan and Matt Light who plays at LT.

--TE Daniel Graham, who didn't play against Miami because of an ankle injury and was listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Bills, has been downgraded to out. Rookie David Thomas will see more playing time with Graham's absence.

--DBs Ellis Hobbs (wrist) and Eugene Wilson (hamstring) are both listed as questionable for this week's game. Hobbs played against the Dolphins two weeks ago, while Wilson was inactive. If Wilson cannot go, look for Artrtell Hawkins to make the start in his place.

--QB Tom Brady is probable (shoulder) for Sunday but hasn't missed any practice time this week.

Injury Report:

OUT: Nick Kaczur, T (Shoulder); Daniel Graham, TE (Ankle); Russ Hochstein, G (Knee) QUESTIONABLE: Don Davis, LB (Leg); Kevin Faulk, RB (Ankle); Ellis Hobbs, CB (Wrist); Eugene Wilson, S (Hamstring) PROBABLE: Willie Andrews, CB (Thigh); Tom Brady, QB (Shoulder); Antwain Spann, CB (Shoulder)

Bills:

--OG Tutan Reyes, who is nursing a shoulder problem, missed practice for a second consecutive day and remains questionable for Sunday's game against New England.

--WR Roscoe Parrish, Buffalo's leader in TD catches and punt returns, is questionable for Sunday's game against New England with a hamstring pull. He missed his second consecutive day of practice on Thursday and is a likely game-time decision.

--C Melvin Fowler, who has a thigh bruise, returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's workout. He remains questionable for Sunday's Patriots game. The Bills have allowed eight sacks in their last two games.

--RB Willis McGahee has a history of performing well against AFC East teams at home. He enters Sunday's game against New England averaging 110-plus yards against division opponents in Orchard Park in four of his last six games.

--QB J.P. Losman has thrown a touchdown pass in five consecutive games. This week's opponent, New England, shut him out in the season opener on Sept. 10. Losman needs a big bounce-back game Sunday. He has been sacked eight times the past two games and has committed five turnovers.

Injury Report:

OUT: Josh Stamer, LB Out (Knee) QUESTIONABLE: Matt Bowen, S (Shin); Melvin Fowler, C (Thigh); Roscoe Parrish, WR (Hamstring); Tutan Reyes, G (Shoulder)

 

SCOUTING THE TEAMS

Patriots:

According to other players in the NFL, Patriots safety Rodney Harrison is not only the dirtiest player in the NFL; he's the dirtiest player in the NFL by far.

In a Sports Illustrated survey that polled 361 NFL players, Harrison was named the NFL's dirtiest player, gaining a whopping 23 percent of the vote. Steelers linebacker Joey Porter and Eagles tackle Jon Runyan came in a distant second, each garnering 6 percent. This is the second time in three years that Harrison has come out on top of the survey. He was named the NFL's dirtiest player in 2004 as well.

"It is what it is," Harrison said doing his best Bill Belichick impression. "I've been in this league a long time. When you hit as many guys as I have, you get a reputation around the league."

Harrison doesn't necessarily take pride in being called "dirty," although he is honored by how many players have come up to him over the years and told him how they respect the way the hard-hitting safety plays the game.

"All I can say is as many guys that say I'm a dirty player, just as many come up and tell me they admire how I play," Harrison said. "The hard work, the commitment, the toughness. That's the pride you're looking for. I take pride in that."

Over his 13-year career, Harrison has become the most fined player in league history. According to the NFL, he's been fined over $300,000 and his reprimands have become so common, Harrison actually has money put aside while he waits for the inevitable calls from the league office.

"I understand with my reputation and my past that $40,000 or $50,000 a year is relegated to fines," he said. "I just put that money aside before the season starts."

The people who have to worry about Harrison this week are the offensive players on the Buffalo Bills. Receiver Lee Evans said that while he respects Harrison, it doesn't mean he likes going up against him.

"He hasn't really done anything to me but I've seen him at work in some of his dirtier moments," Evans said laughing. "You can see it on film. It will be subtle, like making a tackle and doing something a little extra after it. You're getting up and maybe he pushes your face into the ground or gives you a little kick in the back. Just sly stuff that he tries to get away with."

So who does Harrison think is the dirtiest player in the NFL? According to the Patriots safety, if he had a vote it would go to Runyan, who has carried the reputation of being the nastiest offensive linemen in the NFL with him for a number of years now.

"I don't call how I play dirty," Harrison said. "But I would call myself a hard-nosed, old-school football player that loves the game."

Bills:

The Bills (2-4) could be without their leader in touchdown catches and punt returns when they try and break a two-game losing streak against the AFC East-leading New England Patriots (4-1) at home.

Second-year pro Roscoe Parrish is nursing a hamstring pull and missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday. He remains questionable and a game-time decision. His injury isn't considered serious, not in the mold of linebacker Takeo Spikes' hamstring that sidelined him four games. But the Bills could elect to rest him with their bye coming up, ensuring that Parrish would be ready to go against Green Bay on Nov. 5.

"I'm doing the rehab and everything's good but it's day-by-day now," Parrish said. "It's not serious. I felt it a little bit during the game so I told the coach to shut it down."

Parrish tweaked his leg in the first half of last Sunday's 20-7 loss at Detroit. Earlier in the game, he caught a 44-yard TD from J.P. Losman on a broken play. That gave Parrish the Bills' two longest scoring plays this year. He had a 51-yarder against the New York Jets.

Parrish ranks sixth in the AFC in punt return average at 10.5 on 11 returns. With cornerback Nate Clements still playing with a sore thigh, it's likely that second-year man Jim Leonhard would handle those duties, as he did against the Lions, if Parrish can't play.

LINKS:

Newswire - an assortment of the latest news from around the web. Must read material
Patriots - Bills Over/Under Contest - Fans pick the over/unders
Bills Message Boards - Fan forums before, during and after the game
Patriots Message Boards - Fan forums before, during and after the game
Postgame - Games Balls and Goats - who played poorly, who played well

FOX NFL Scoreboard :: ESPN Scoreboard :: NFL.com Scoreboard

 

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