The Teams: Buffalo Bills (5-3) at New England Patriots (5-3)
The Terms: Regular Season Week 10
The Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass
The Time: 1:00pm
The Channel: CBS
3 Burning Questions:
- Who saw this coming? Coming off an 18-1 season and nearly every significant contributor coming back, anyone who thought week 10 would pit the 5-3 Patriots against the 5-3 Bills is out of their mind. Nobody really knows how good the Bills are considering they won their first four games and are just 1-3 since then, including losses to the Jets, Dolphins and Cardinals. Injuries have hurt them yet and their wins (Seahawks, Jags, Raiders Chargers) aren’t all that impressive as their combined records are 10-22. However they are a threat thanks to some playmakers like Marshawn Lynch (six rushing touchdowns) and Lee Evans (678 yards receiving). Trent Edwards has been decent at the quarterback spot but won’t knock your socks off with skills. Bill Belichick always likes to play up divisional match ups and in the past few years they haven’t been all that important, but this is a major AFC East heavyweight fight.
- Will Lamont Jordan play and if so, what kind of impact will he have? With Sammy Morris (knee) doubtful for tomorrow’s game and Lamont Jordan listed as questionable, we may just see at least one running back return to the fold. Jordan ran hard against the Jets in Week 2 and can provide another dynamic to the running game. Kevin Faulk and BenJarvis Green-Ellis have played well, but more bodies are needed if one of them somehow goes down with injury. Faulk only carries the ball around 10 times a game and against divisional opponents the next few weeks the Patriots will need a consistent running game. If Jordan plays I think he’ll want to get out and pound the ball, but having missed so many weeks, Belichick will probably keep him on a short leash. If he plays I see him getting 8-10 carries but a few key first down conversions or even a short yardage touchdown isn’t out of the question. This veteran still has a lot left to give.
- When will the tight ends show up? This new style of offense, which really is the old style of Patriot football is based on high percentage passes and draws. What we’ve seen so far this year is almost zero production from the tight end position. The most defining play from the tight ends this year came last week when David Thomas’ unnecessary roughness penalty pretty much ended the Patriots chances of winning. David Thomas and Ben Watson have combined for 19 catches, 177 yards and ZERO touchdowns. Watson missed the first two games of the year due to injury (shocker) but in six games still hasn’t found the end zone. In an offense looking for underneath passes, he should be having a field day. I can’t really explain his lack of progression over the past few years and you have to start asking this question: for all of the great athletic ability we’ve seen from Watson, has he made any memorable or significant plays since he ran down Champ Baily in the 2005 playoffs?
I’ll keep this short and sweet. I think we saw a lot out of Matt Cassel and the defense last week even in defeat. The Bills are a dangerous team, but a team hurt by injuries and inconsistency. They’re 1-3 in their last four games and now have two divisional foes caught up to them in the standings. This won’t be a pretty win but I see (and will see in person) the Patriots control the clock and take advantage of turnovers to cease control of the AFC East.
Patriots 24, Bill 13
Tags: Ben Watson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bill Belichick, David Thomas, Kevin Faulk, Lamont Jordan, Lee Evans, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Cassel, Patriots, Randy Moss, Trent Edwards