The Buffalo Bills travel to Gillette Stadium this Sunday to do battle with the New England Patriots. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, the once again playoff bound Patriots. The season has been over for the Bills for a few weeks now, and they are going to be playing for pride and hopefully to let Tom Brady and company know that the last time these two teams faced off, the Bills victory was not just a fluke.
Back in September the Bills were able to overcome a 17 point deficit, behind a rare four interception performance by Brady, along with 74 yards rushing with one touchdown and 87 yards receiving by Bills running back Fred Jackson. To go along with Jackson's performance, Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the Bills going into the rematch, there is no Fred Jackson, having been placed on the injured reserve list following a broken fibula. The Bills will be looking for last year’s first round draft pick C.J. Spiller to carry the load and hope that inconsistent of late Fitzpatrick can rekindle some of his early season magic to help carry the Bills to a second victory over the Pats.
1. C.J. Spiller versus the Pats run defense
Coming into this week’s game, Spiller has been averaging 77 yards per game since taking over for Jackson. But over the last two games, he seems to be coming into his own averaging 101 yards per game and has scored a rushing touchdown in both games. This week he will face off against the Pats 17th
ranked run defense that is allowing 117 yards per game.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick versus the Pats secondary
Fitzpatrick was off to a quick start in September throwing for nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Since then he has hit a wall. He has thrown for 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Not a good sign for a quarterback that was granted a new contract with 10 million guaranteed. But with that aside, Fitzpatrick will be facing the 31st
ranked pass defense. There’s a good chance that he will have four and five receiver sets and look to spread the ball around. Most notably to his leading receiver Steve Johnson, who had 94 yards receiving and a touchdown the last time these two teams faced off. Johnson is also looking for his second consecutive season with 1,000 yards, which would be a team record. He is only 34 yards away from this accomplishment.
3. Tom Brady looking to become the all- time season yardage leader in passing
Leading a passing offense that averages 312 yards per game and facing a defense that allows 225 yards per game, it is very possible that Brady may break Drew Brees ‘ season record. Currently Brady is 190 yards away from doing so. With the Saints having locked up their playoff spot, there is speculation that Brees will see little to no time in the season finale. With the Patriots trying to obtain home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Brady will definitely see all the time he can. So it is possible that fans will witness a record that stood for over twenty years be eclipsed twice in the same season. Just another record for Brady to throw into the argument that he is the best quarterback of all time.
With a record of 17-2 and undefeated at Gillette Stadium versus the Bills, Brady looks to pick up right where he left off, dominating the Bills. The Bills showed a lot of heart in the first match up this season but they are facing Brady, who made a few mistakes, and in most cases he does not repeat the same ones twice. The Bills will need to win in all three aspects of the game, offense, defense and special teams if they expect to win.
As the regular season comes to a close, for Patriots fans it’s another season of winning and chances at ANOTHER championship. For Bills fans, it’s just another season of: maybe next year.