Matchup Of The Game
The key matchup is the Patriots offensive line against Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay. Schobel has had the Tom Brady's number over the years. If Schobel goes against Nick Kaczur then the Patriots may need to give him some help. The line must also protect Brady from any stunts the Bills will bring with John DiGiorgio or the other linebackers.
Pressure on Brady will be key for Buffalo, and it needs to come from where the Patriots have shown vulnerabilities. Kaczur gave up two sacks against Indianapolis and has shown susceptibility against talented pass rushers.
1 No Bonehead Plays - J.P. Losman has a history of making a dumb mistake at the wrong time, usually resulting in a game changing play. The Harder Losman pushes, the more likely he is to make a mistake. If he can avoid the boneheaded plays that have plagued him in the past, he's likely to find holes in the Patriots secondary.
2 Offensive Line Must Do Their Job - The Bills revamped offensive line has a big task ahead. They not only have to protect Losman when he drops back to pass to give him time to find his receivers downfield, but they have to find a way to open holes in the Patriots front seven to give their backup running backs room to run. Without Marshawn Lynch in the lineup, the duties will fall to Anthony Thomas and Dwayne Wright. If the line can find a way to open some holes to get the running game going, Losman will have the ability to make things happen with the play-action pass. Otherwise it could be a long day for the Bills offense.
3. Prevent The Big Play - Indianapolis was able to keep the Patriots in check by limiting the amount of deep passes that Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth were able to make. If Buffalo doesn't want to fall behind in a shootout, they'll need to avoid giving up the big play to any of the Patriots playmakers.PATRIOTS
1. Keep Lee Evans In Check - actually, the Patriots need to keep the Bills from hitting the big play, and Lee Evans is the guy who gives Buffalo that threat, although Buffalo has a number of weapons. The Patriots secondary can be burned if the Bills can find a way to get him involved. Ellis Hobbs Asante Samuel need to suck it up if they're on man coverage. If it's zone, James Sanders and Rodney Harrison will have to make sure they cover over the top.
2. Get Pressure on Losman - the Patriots defensive front can put pressure on most teams quarterbacks. If they can pressure Losman into making a hurried throw, they'll likely get him to make a mistake. Losman has been inconsistent over his career - sometimes he's on fire, and sometimes he's horrendous. Most of the time that's related to pressure on the Bills signal-caller. If New England can force Losman into mistakes, it will be easier to take away their running game and protect the secondary from Evans or others on the big play.
3. Special teams - The Patriots need to contain the Bills return game, while establishing their own. Wes Welker has been able to give the Patriots solid field position in his punt return duties, notably his 23-yard return against the Colts to give the Patriots prime field position to make their comeback against Indianapolis in the fourth quarter in week 9. The Patriots have the 5th best punt return unit in the league and the best overall kickoff return unit.