Patriots must contain CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson vs. Bills

The Patriots were able to limit CJ Spiller to under 100 rushing yards in each of their meetings with Buffalo last season. Credit: Getty Images
The Patriots were able to limit CJ Spiller to under 100 rushing yards in each of their meetings with Buffalo last season. Credit: Getty Images

Enough about training camp and who looked good in shorts and shells.

No more talk referencing preseason stats and if they translate to the regular season.

Finally, it’s here. The Patriots will kick off their 2013-14 NFL season Sunday at 1 p.m. in Orchard Park, NY where they face the Bills.

It’s not exactly Patriots-Seahawks (although many feel that matchup may come in early February), but any game – especially an opener – played on the road is a tough one, even if the Bills only look to compete with the Jets for third place in the AFC East this season.

So what can we expect from the Patriots, and just how much can we take away from Week 1? Well, that depends on where you’re looking.

The Bills boast one of the game’s better rushing attacks in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. While Jackson used to lead the way, his injuries and Spiller’s emergence have flipped the depth chart, as Spiller is one of the top backs heading into 2013.

It’ll be a great test early in the season for the Patriots defensive line and linebackers, as the Bills will most likely run often over putting the ball in rookie QB EJ Manuel’s hands. But Bill Belichick isn’t going to focus all the attention on the running game.

“We have to have an awareness of the players that are in there but we have to defend the scheme that they run against us and we have to carry out our responsibilities,” Belichick said. “It’s kind of a combination of those things. We’ll be aware of the skills that Manuel has, that [Jeff] Tuel has, that Spiller has, that Jackson has, that [Tashard] Choice has … We still have to play our defense and maybe we have a little bit better awareness specifically of one player over another and we should.”

And you can be sure that new Bills head coach Doug Marrone has his hands full in trying to figure out a way to contain the Pats offense – even if it’s full of young players that are new to the NFL.

“You have, obviously a quarterback that can put the ball right on the money, who’s an elite quarterback in this league,” Marrone said. “Those receivers play well. They run good routes. They get off man coverage. They find their spots in zones. So, they’ve got a bunch of guys that are able to get open.”


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