Patriots vs. Bills: 3 things to watch
Three things to watch Sunday (1 p.m., CBS) against the Bills:
1. On the road again
If you’re a glass half-full type of person, you’ll look at this Sunday’s matchup as a nice break for the Pats. They’ll cruise past the Bills and get back to .500. After all, it’s the Bills. Tom Brady is 18-2 in his career against them – the most wins against any opponent. He’s also thrown for more TDs (46) and 300-yard games (six) against them than anybody else. That’s right, fantasy nerds! But if you’re the glass half-empty type, you’ll remember that one of those losses came last year in Buffalo, and the Pats had to erase a 21-point deficit in the next one to avoid being swept by the Bills. Oh, and this year the Bills added Mario Williams, one of the best defensive ends in the league. It’ll be hard for Brady to throw touchdown passes lying facedown in the dirt.
2. Rush to judgment
The Pats might catch a break this weekend, as it looks as if both of Buffalo’s stud running backs, Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder), are banged up. There’s a good chance at least one could play – most likely Jackson – but either way they won’t be at 100 percent. Buffalo ranks third in rushing
offense at 178 yards per game, while ranking just 26th in passing offense at 193 yards per game. Harvard graduate and Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will look to have a bigger role in the offense this week, so New England’s secondary should be tested often. Hopefully they respond better than they did last week, as Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty, and Steve Gregory simply weren’t good enough.
3. Red alert
To the people blaming the referees for New England’s 1-2 start . . . stop. Just stop. There are many, better reasons, and one of them is the lack of execution in the red zone. Last year, New England converted touchdowns on 65.12 percent of its trips past the opponent’s 20-yard line. That was good for fourth in the NFL. This year? Just 50 percent, good for 16th in the NFL. So yes, less Stephen Gostkowski field goals, and more Gronk spikes should do the trick.