There has been talk about his MVP caliber performance thus far this season. His rejuvination. His arm strength, his (better) offensive weapons in Buffalo. His chance at throwing for a mind boggeling 5000 yards this season. I hate to break this to everyone; none of it matters.
What does matter is that the Patriots defense has suddenly gotten very old. What does matter is that Jim Thorpe's ghost could probably run for 100 yards against this unit. I haven't figured out yet if they Patriots will choose option (A) dropping 7 or 8 people back into coverage to ensure the Bills don't execute any 50 or 60 yard plays, or (B) Blitzing Bledsoe, forcing him to move in or out of the pocket and throw on the run, where he is generally not as accurate; though he did make an incredible pass last week rolling to his left, and stepping up into the pocket, only to hit Peerless Price with a laser, 40 yards downfield.
My guess is that they'll blitz him and hope their pourus secondary can contain Eric Moulds and the aforementioned Price. However, even if they do limit the vaunted Bills air attack to 250 yards or less, they still have to contain surprising 2nd year back Travis Henry, who despite his problems hanging onto the football, has proven to be a legitimate threat out of the backfield.
Perhaps the Patriots best chance at winning Sunday involves the Bills defense, or lack thereof. Yes they have improved of late, but the Bills have yet to play any strong contenders this year, while Pats have lost 4 straight to arguably the top 4 teams in the NFL.
The bottom line is that the Patriots do not have great talent. They won last year because 53 guys played as one and Belichick did a once in a lifetime coaching job. If this year proves anything, it's that the Patriots have about 8 holes on their roster and have desperate needs at LT, (2) DL, (2) LB, CB, RB and WR. As a result, they will not have any pro-bowlers this year.
Unless Brady and an injured Troy Brown can generate some offense, the Pats look to be breaking out the golf clubs in early November. Unless of course, Antowain Smith can finally eclipse the 100 yard plateau and actually upsatge Bledsoe against his former team, the Bills.
If the Pats weren't cooked last week, they are medium well this week. One more loss and you can put a fork in them. Anyone looking forward to the 2003 NFL draft? My optimism for the Pats this year has been unwavering. My wallet has been bitch-slapping me ever since. I will not be making any calls to my bookie this Sunday, that's for sure.
What do I expect? Who the hell knows, the Bills are favored by 2.5 points and are at home, having won 3 straight. The Pats are on the road, having lost their confidence as well as four straight games to top flight NFL competition.
The verdict? One last chance for the Patsies... Pats 26 Bills 23
Bills: Can the Bills Step it up?
I gave up projecting how the Bills should play and by how many points they should win a given game by after the Detroit game. They routinely barely hang on to beat teams that are currently 2-5 and then play tough games vs. teams like Denver. The play-calling is sketchy, and Gilbride cannot make it any clearer that given the choice, he would rather put the ball in the air than run it with a very capable and improving Travis Henry. It is almost as if he is trying to ensure that Henry dare not detract from Drew getting at least 40 attempts. Unfortunately, Gilbride is not helping the team by doing so. In any case, Gilbride sure has me puzzled. If this continues, I am afraid that his decisions are gonna come back to bite him and the Bills in the haunches. On defense, who knows what is going on!?
Bills fans are screaming that the Pats are horrible due to their current four-game losing skid. However, before we get overconfident, one thing that those same fans seem to be overlooking is that the four teams that just finished beating the Pats are all in contention for winning their conferences, are a combined 23-6, and all possess extremely solid offenses and defenses. Meanwhile, the Bills are only demonstrating that they can barely hang on and take games down to the wire vs. teams that are 2-5 and account for four of their five wins.
Make no mistake. This game should be close. Sure, Drew knows the Pats. But they also know him very well and their secondary is as outstanding defending against the pass, just as Drew has been outstanding passing this season. As of now, the weather is calling for snowy and cold conditions. Not exactly prime weather for passing the ball, which apparently is the Bills' only strength. Sure, Henry should be able to run the ball effectively. But the question of the week is whether or not Gilbride will give Henry the ball enough in order to ensure that they take advantage of Henry's rushing. Who knows!? Just when you think you have figured the Bills out this year, WHAM! We get blind-sided with some new revelation or anomaly. I would say expect more of the same. Guessing whether or not Henry will get the ball 20-something times as he has in 3 games while putting up an average of 147 yards rushing in those three games, or whether he gets the ball an average of 14 times for 51 yards as he has in the other five games, will remain a mystery until game time.
While the media hype is of a Bledsoe vs. Brady match-up, the duel that will better determine which team has the edge in this one is the match-up between Smith and Henry. The team that has the better rushing performance, especially if the weather is bad, will likely be the team to prevail. Overall, both teams match up relatively the same. New England boasts an above average offense to go up against the Bills very nominal defense. The Bills boast a top offense primarily due to their passing game. The big difference, however, is that the Pats have an outstanding pass D to counter, which should keep things interesting on Sunday.
This was already the biggest game of the year before the season even got underway thanks to the Bledsoe trade. Now, this game is even bigger. The Bills are 5-3, where hardly anyone figured they would be. A win here heading into the bye week places the Bills in the driver's seat as far as winning the division goes. It also means that only four wins in the Bills' seven final games may be enough to win the division. A loss means half a game above .500 with five or six very tough games in seven remaining. Losing this week would likely mean the Bills would need victories in five of those seven games to make the playoffs or win the division.
The Pats find themselves in an absolute "must win" situation if they want to keep any realistic hopes of winning the division and making the playoffs alive. They are truly a team with their backs to the wall. Look for them to come out swinging. A loss by the Pats here and they can for all intents and purposes kiss this season good bye. As if they needed any additional reason to win, they would surely like to do their part to prove that trading Bledsoe was wise.
The Bills will need to kick the intensity of their game up a notch if they are to change their lackadaisical ways on their home field. Otherwise, this game may not be pretty…………….Mark Weiler
Weekly rant from the resident Phins fan...
Our much needed bye week is now over. Hopefully Lucas has shaken off the rust he showed in the Buffalo game and will manage the offense, not try to make too many things happen. Chris Carter and Chambers should see some action this week. And we will need them both in Green Bay on Monday night. I like our chances in this game. We might be able to pull out a MNF miracle similar to the Denver game. BUT Farve will be playing in this game after spraining his knee against Washington. He is practically unstoppable at Lambeu. That being said...
Miami 17 Green Bay 14
Buffalo fans get to see Drew get his first shots at the Patriots at hime this week. And is this ever an interesting matchup. NE is on a 4 game losing streak and trying to keep thier playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile Buffalo is in second place in the AFC East with a 4-3 record and is looking to prove they belong in the playoff race. Will NE fold and go on a 5 game losing skid, or show what being defending SB champs do when their backs are to the wall?!? Can Drew show the Pats they let the wrong guy go?!? I think that NE will get back to what got them to the Super Bowl last year, and that starts on defense. Look for the Pats to slow down the passing game. On offense NE will go to the running game and reign Brady in from passing so much. A slow paced game favors NE in the long run and will keep Bledsoe and the offense off the field. For Buffalo...they better come to stop the run. If they don't, Pats win. Bottom line...
Pats 19 Bills 10
Congrats to Emmitt Smith the new alltime leading rusher in the NFL. But will Emmitt retire after this season??? He is not a part of Dallas' future plans, but they may keep him on for another season. I get the impression that Emmitt wants to continue playing, and has shown on Sunday that he can still be an effective back. He has also stated that he wants to play because he still loves the game, just like Jerry Rice. But will this be at the expense of seeing Emmitt in another uniform other than the white and blue??? I think that the stigma of older players continuing to play for other teams is fading. Because Rice is a Raider, do you think less of his career? I jus know that it would be a shame to see Emmitt playing for another team. But it is a bigger shame to see Emmitt on a team that grossly under utilizes him.
I am still waiting for the Chargers to start falling. The last time they started this well, they went to the Super Bowl and got BLOWN out. I would rather see the Raiders or Chiefs or even dare I say...Bills go to the Big Dance simply because they would make it a better game.
Until next week...Phins054
( Thanks to BillsZone.com)