Buffalo Bills pass offense vs. New England Patriots pass defense
A lot hinges on the health of both safeties for the New England Patriots in this match up, because both Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory are listed questionable on the injury report. They have both missed the last couple of games, with Gregory out since the first meeting against the Bills. Even though Gregory’s hip injury was more severe, he has been able to practice this week and word is that Chung is suffering from a hamstring injury now in addition to recurring shoulder issues.
Hopefully Gregory can play, which will allow McCourty to play at corner. The CB position has run thin due to the injuries to Kyle Arrington and Ras-I Dowling, with the latter on the IR. Arrington should play this week after suffering from a concussion against the Rams. If Gregory and Chung can’t play, then McCourty will likely play at safety next to Tavon Wilson. Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard will start on the outside, which leaves the nickel corner to Marquice Cole, who impressed in his first shot at significant action.
The rotation in the defensive backfield is going to be interesting to watch, and I can see Ryan Fitzpatrick putting up some big yardage numbers just like he did in Week 4. Scott Chandler should make some more strong plays and come away with a TD reception, but Fitzpatrick and the Bills do have to deal with an injury to their best receiver. The passing offense runs through Stevie Johnson, who was shut down the first time out by Devin McCourty. He’s playing with a thigh contusion that has hurt his playing ability, and he was shut down last week by the Houston Texans.
The matchup at left tackle and right end between Chandler Jones and Cordy Glenn will be a real treat to watch, as both rookies have been two of the best in the draft class. Jones should have the advantage in run defense, but Glenn won the battle last time out in pass protection.
Bills run offense vs. Pats run defense
Usually a Pats-killer, Fred Jackson hasn’t been himself this year due to an ankle injury. He may have came back too soon to face the Patriots in Week 4, and both he and C.J. Spiller were shut down by the vaunted Patriots run defense. Jackson might have another slow day, but Spiller won’t be stopped so easily.
In my opinion, Spiller has been the best running back in the league this year with a 7.2 yards per carry average. The Bills need to listen to Ryan Fitzpatrick, even if GM Buddy Nix doesn’t think he’s a franchise QB. The Harvard alum is right; Spiller needs more touches. It’s going to be difficult for even the Patriots top-notch run D to stop him, and the Bills best chance at winning this game is by giving Spiller the opportunity to have a huge day.
The Buffalo Bills are outmatched in this game, and they don’t hold a significant advantage in this game. Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to help put some points up on the board, but the Bills defense is going to get pounded by the Patriots. Fitzpatrick is going to try and do too much, and he’s going to end up creating some costly mistakes (four picks last game these two teams played). It’s going to be like the Week 4 matchup, except the Pats are not going to have a rough first-half. The only thing that has improved for the Bills is C.J. Spiller, while everything else has been falling apart.
The Patriots win this game at home 38-21 against a severely depleted Bills secondary. The game won’t be a blowout, but it isn’t going to be close either.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.