New England Patriots: Staff Projections Week One Versus Buffalo Bills

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Jed Ober:
The Patriots come into the 2013 season opener with a lot of questions on the offensive side of the ball, but Tom Brady and his new offensive weapons gel enough in their first regular season game together to come out on top. Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel shows flashes of good and bad, but an improved Patriots defense, particularly a resurgent pass rush fueled on the outside by second-year defensive end Chandler Jones and on the inside by veteran newcomer Tommy Kelly is ultimately too much for Manuel and the Bills to handle.

Prediction: Patriots 27 – Bills 17

Celia Westbrook:
Sep 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) scores a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 52-28. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Sep 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) scores a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills.  Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Under coach Bill Belichick leadership, the Buffalo Bills have been the most frequent season-opening opponent (2003, 2006, 2009, 2013) and the Patriots have won 18 of the last 19 matchups against the Bills. It’s easy to feel overly confident when playing the Bills, but this year’s Bills is a whole new different team with new head coach Doug Marrone, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Although the Patriots and the Bills are both facing unknown set of schemes and players, the advantage rests with the team with the least amount of injuries to key players. Rob Gronkowski is not expected to play this week, and a few of our players are listed as limited participation in practice (Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon and Will Svitek). The only player that concerns me a bit is Svitek. Since Alfonzo Dennard’s court date has been pushed back a second-time, the secondary should be able to contain the passing game along with a strong primary core that will take advantage in overwhelming a rookie quarterback.

The Bills on the other hand, have cornerback Stephon Gilmore out until Week 5 due to a wrist surgery and safety Jairus Byrd is still dealing with a foot injury; placing Da’Norris Searcy as the replacement for Week 1. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will be the starter, but due to a recent minor knee surgery, I don’t expect him to show much athleticism and rely heavily on C.J. Spiller. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeff Tuel starting in the second half. The last the Bills want is to have their starting quarterback have any set back – a sack by Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich or Chandler Jones wouldn’t be pretty for him.

The Patriots primary and secondary should be able to maintain a relative low score, but preventing third-down conversions and limiting the running game will be a major factor in coming up with a “W”. On the offensive side of the ball, I expect to see more action from Zach Sudfeld in the red zone and Shane Vereen on third-down short passes. Stevan Riddle should have a monster game. Julian Edelman will bring his veteran experience, Danny Amendola will show we indeed to have an upgraded version of Wes Welker and Kembrell Thompkins will make us proud.

Prediction: Patriots 41 – Bills 17

Martin Antonucci:

The division opponents New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills have much speculation coming into the season on Sunday. E.J Manual and the Aaron Hernandez scandal lead the chatter for each of these teams. But they’re just ready to play football. One team might be favored (New England), but the Bills have talent. I just don’t think they have enough.

C.J Spiller might be the only shine on offense, but don’t be suprised if he doesn’t shine. Reason being the Patriots are a great run stopper. So the Bills will need to pass to be a balanced offense. The Patriots are most likely going to blitz and keep pressure on E.J Manual. I just don’t see the offense being much of a problem to the Pats. Expect turnovers and a sloppy game for them because the Patriots defense is going to be able to stop the run and pass. News being Alfonzo Dennard’s court hearing was pushed back to September 16th. Which is big news considering he is a starter at cornerback opposite of Aquib Talib.

Prediction: Patriots 34 – Bills 20

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