Patriots vs. Bills: 3 things to watch

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JIM ROGASH/GETTY IMAGES

1. Will Nelson be too much for the defense?

The Bills traded away deep threat Lee Evans prior to the start of the season, but they haven’t had any trouble scoring.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has found a new favorite target in 6-foot-5 wideout David Nelson. The two connected on 10 passes last week against Oakland, including one that went for a TD.

Nelson’s big body will be a test for the relatively diminutive Pats secondary. And if it’s not Nelson, it’s RB Fred Jackson the Pats defense will have to worry about.

2. Injuries mounting for the Patriots

The Buffalo offense is looking tough to stop for a healthy team. And the Patriots are definitely not a healthy team.

Their most reliable safety, Patrick Chung, will miss the game after having surgery on his right thumb. Albert Haynesworth’s back is acting up (here we go …); his status is also uncertain.

Meanwhile, one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, TE Aaron Hernandez, is out for the foreseeable future after spraining his MCL in Week 2, and Sebastian Vollmer still has back issues. Can the replacements step up when called upon?

3. No need to start drinking early

Since 2006, Tom Brady has thrown for 22 TDs and just three interceptions against the Bills. His hot start to the 2011 season is no secret, either.

It’s pretty clear the Patriots defense has some major issues to sort out, and that if New England is going to win, it will be behind Brady’s arm.

Luckily, the QB has back-to-back 100-plus passer ratings (142.6 on Sept. 2, 2010) against the Bills, and has only lost in Buffalo once — back in 2003. He’ll do just fine again Sunday.


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