The New England Patriots will travel to Buffalo to play the Bills on Sunday to kick off their 2013 NFL Season. This is their first time opening up against the Bills since the 2009 regular season, when New England pulled off a stunning last minute come-from-behind win, 25-24. The Bills had a disappointing 2012 campaign, in which they finished 6-10. Following the season, they fired head coach Chan Gailey, and replaced him with former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. The Bills finished 2-2 in the preseason, most recently losing to the Lions on August 29th.
How They Rank (2012 statistics used):
Total Offense: 342.9 YPG (19th)
Rush Offense: 138.6 YPG (6th)
Pass Offense: 204.3 YPG (25th)
Points Per Game: 21.5 PPG (21st)
Total Defense: 362.9 YPG (22nd)
Rush Defense: 145.8 YPG (31st)
Pass Defense: 217.1 (10th)
Points Allowed/Game: 27.2 PPG (26th)
Turnover Ratio: -13 (T-27th)
Three Storylines to Watch:
Quarterback Uncertainty: The Bills lost Kevin Kolb for the season with a concussion, and lost E.J. Manuel in the preseason due to a minor knee procedure. That left the door open for an undrafted rookie to possibly start: Jeff Tuel, who went 4-22 at Washington State. Fortunately for the Bills, Manuel returned to practice this week. But either way, they’re going to be playing a rookie against a Patriots team that has historically done a good job shutting rookies down.
Bills with a Jets-style defense: The Bills made a regime change by bringing in former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, but also hired a noted defensive coordinator from the division rival Jets: Mike Pettine. That means this won’t be the same-old Bills defense we’re used to seeing. We’ll see a mix of different fronts, a lot of blitzes, etc.
C.J. Spiller and the Bills running attack: C.J. Spiller also returned to practice this week and is expected to be a go for Sunday. He’s going to be a focal point of this game, so expect to hear a lot about him from the Patriots’ defenders in the coming days. Chan Gailey was hesitant to give Spiller the entire workload in 2012, but he will see upwards of 20-25 touches per game in 2013 under Marrone.
What are your early thoughts on the match-up?