Inside Enemy Territory is a feature where I ask a blogger for the Patriots’ upcoming opponent five questions about their team and the upcoming game. This week, the Patriots play the Buffalo Bills in a divisional showdown. The Patriots have won 15 in a row against the Bills, but there’s no guarantee that it will be 16 with a rejuvenated Bills team. I contacted Brad Andrews from BuffaLowDown to get his insight on the Bills. Brad also asked me five questions about the Patriots, which you can read HERE.
Here’s our Q&A…
1. The Bills have been impressive on offense thus far. Is it the Ryan Fitzpatrick show or the Fred Jackson show?
Both, really. Jackson’s one of the league’s most underrated players. He’s so rarely had decent blocking during his time in Buffalo but he’s always found a way to be productive. With the offensive line playing better, he’s really been able to show what he can do. But if the Bills are going to continue to be successful, Fitzpatrick has to continue to play at a high level. When he’s on, the Bills can really score points, as we’ve seen in the first two weeks. This season will basically live and die with him.
Huge concerns. There are some positives: last season the run defense was dreadful, and this year it’s been almost decent so far. But the pass defense is a big question mark. Giving up 323 yards to Jason Campbell and a beat-up Oakland receiving corps is not good, and it’s down right terrifying to think of what Tom Brady and the Patriots will be able to do. The secondary took a hit when Terrence McGee went down in the first game, and cornerback Leodis McKelvin was pretty bad last week. On top of that, the Bills struggle to cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game, which is a huge problem in trying to stop the Pats. It would help if the Bills could generate a pass rush. So far Shawne Merriman’s been quiet, but he hasn’t played a lot, so maybe there’s some hope there.
The receivers are a group of no-names (with the exception of 2010 breakout star Stevie Johnson), but they can play. David Nelson and Donald Jones made the team as undrafted rookies last season, and Fitzpatrick loves them. Nelson is a huge target with great hands. Jones is scrappy as heck and came with a huge catch on fourth down on the winning drive last week. Also, TE Scott Chandler – who has been cut four times in his career – is off to a dream start this season with three touchdowns so far.
It’s tough being a Bills fan in general, and it’s been harder with the Jets and Giants both being so good in recent years. I know I live in the middle of state, which has a bizarre mash of Jets, Giants, and Bills fans…and the Bills are usually the butt of the jokes. And what’s the comeback when you haven’t been in the playoffs in over a decade? “At least we actually play in New York?”
I just don’t know if the Bills can stop the Patriots’ offense right now. I think the Bills will score too, but not quite enough. 35-27 Pats. Of course, I’d love to be wrong.