Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Streak Rolls On: Game 3 at Buffalo

A very lazily prepared preview for today's game, a surprising battle for first place in the AFC East vs. little brother Buffalo

New England Offense vs. Buffalo Defense

Running Game:
Despite having one of the most underrated interior D-lineman in the league in NT Kyle Williams, Buffalo's run D is anemic at best. The Pats gained over 200 yards on the ground in both games last year against the Bills, and will feature the run game with Aaron Hernandez missing the game today. Watch Williams vs. Connolly as a great test of how Connolly will fair at Center for the rest of the season; and I'm interested in seeing what kind of impact rookie Marcell Dareus will have.
Advantage - Patriots

Passing Game:
The Bills lost their best D-back (Donte Whitner) to free agency; and it showed in getting lit up for 300+ yards by Jason Campbell last week. However, the Pats are without Hernandez, and cut Gronk2, leaving them with only 1 TE on the active gameday roster. This is significant given that N.E. has run multiple TE sets on 125 of 151 offensive snaps this year. The match up issues that Hernandez and Gronk are mitigated by the Hernandez injury, so look for plenty of 3 WR sets. Could today be the day that Chad Johnson finally makes an impact? He should at least see plenty of snaps, but I figure for big games from Wes and Deion before Chad. Also, with Vollmer missing the game due to injury, it will be another good test for Solder.
Advantage - Patriots

San Diego
Offense vs. New England Defense

Running Game:
Defensive line depth has been the strong point (aside from Brady) of the team so far this year. With no Fat Albert (back injury), or Myron Pryor (IR); Kyle Love with be thrust into a starting role and Landon Cohen as the top back up. Vince will need to have a big day as Fred Jackson is one of the best backs in the league and a Belichick favorite. Also, the big play ability of C.J. Spiller could have an impact with Chung missing the game, leaving a stable of inexperienced safties as the last line of defense if he breaks away. I wouldn't be surprised for the Pat's to show off some versatility and break out a little 3-4 (when not in sub-packages) given the lack of DL depth this week. Fortunately, Buffalo has never felt the need to address their horrific offensive line so this one should be pretty even.

Advantage - Draw

Passing Game:

The Great Ryan Fitzpatrick has been lighting up the league this year, with just under 500 hundred passing yards and 7 TD's in two games. Ok, so maybe not lighting it up, but he has looked pretty good. The wicked smaat kid from Haavad has shown some promise over the past season+, and will have some decent numbers against a Chung-free Pat's secondary today. Along with Chung being out,
Ras-I was just announced inactive, and Arrington was banged up last week, leaving plenty of room for concern here. The Bills have handled the departure of the mediocre Lee Evans in stride, and have a decent passing attack led by Stevie Johnson. Advantage - Bills

Special Teams
Buffalo boasts strong special teams, with two dangerous return men (C.J. Spiller and Brad Smith), and the reliable kicking combo of Rian Lindell and Brian Moorman. An injured Zoltan Mesko and still recovering Stephen Gostkowski gives a leg up to the Bills in this one.
Advantage - Bills

While the Pats have some injuries at key positions and some definite concerns, I don't see their string of 15 straight victories over Buffalo coming to an end today. The little brother Bills have been getting stronger and have a prime opportunity to take out their bully older brother today, but I see them falling short in a high scoring shootout.
Patriots 38 - Bills 31

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