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New England Patriots Links 9/14/09 - Patriots Season Opener Tonight

<em>Bill Belichick at Friday's practice.</em>
Bill Belichick at Friday's practice.

Christopher Price presents his five things to watch for Monday Night.

Aaron Schobel.  Remember when Tom Brady said he and Matt Light cracked open a beer when Jason Taylor left the AFC East a few years ago? While it was Taylor who gets all the pub for terrorizing Brady and Light on a twice-a-year basis, Aaron Schobel actually has sacked Brady more than Taylor has. The TCU product has sacked Brady 11 times in 14 career games against the Patriots quarterback, more than Taylor (9.5 sacks) or Joey Porter (6 sacks).

If Schobel can consistently beat Light and whatever tight end is assigned to help out on Brady’s blind side, the Bills will have a better chance at winning this game. If New England can neutralize the Buffalo pass rush — and Schobel in particular — then the Patriots shouldn’t have any problems stretching New England’s winning streak over the Bills to 13 games.

"It’s not a big trick defense," Brady said. "They line up, play hard. They have a bunch of tough guys over there. It’s a very well-coached defense. They don’t give you anything, you’ve got to earn it. You can’t be sloppy with them. They’ll make the plays. They’ll make you pay."

Ian Rapoport offers his five hot topics for tomorrow morning

Is the secondary really improved?

Former Pats cornerbacks Ellis Hobbs and Deltha O’Neal were sent packing soon after 2008 ended, replaced by big-ticket free agents Leigh Bodden and Springs. Safety Rodney Harrison is now a broadcaster, Brandon Meriweather taking his place. The goal is to improve upon a sore spot from last season, but first impressions haven’t been overly positive. The Pats were last in the preseason in passing yards allowed, but are those stats worth anything? Bodden has been solid, yet Springs has just begun practicing. The Bills’ multi-faceted receivers will provide a stern test.

Mike Reiss (ESPN) looks at five storylines to watch for tonight.

Richard Seymour fallout creates unexpected individual matchup.  Eight-year veteran Jarvis Graeen is the likely replacement for Richard Seymour at right defensive end -- whether in the 3-4 alignment or the 4-3.  Meanwhile, Bills left tackle Demetrius Bell is expected to be making his first career NFL start after Buffalo released Langstoon Walker.  At tiimes, Bell and Green will be locked up against each other, creatiing an individual matchup that few could have seen coming just a few weeks ago.  In addition to Green, the Patriots have five-year veteran Mike Wright and rookie Ron Brace as options at end.