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It was the phrase Rick Moranis used to fire up his Little Giants as they went into halftime down three scores to Ed O'Neil's Little Cowboys. We've all seen the movie, so there's no need for a lengthy recap (we have all seen it, right? I hope so, for all of your sakes). For my money, there are very few other movie moments more motivational than that speech.
Okay, that's a lie. There are a ton of other movie speeches that get me riled up more than that one. But in terms of sending a clear message of hope and never-say-die attitude, Coach Danny O'Shea is right up there with The Gipper and Morris Buttermaker. The gist of what he told his team was that no matter how tough the competition, regardless of whether or not you are consistently outclassed, and even if a team beats you 99 times out of 100, that still leaves...One Time. And that One Time is always worth playing for.
Well guess what, Buffalo? Your best chance for One Time is coming up on Sunday.
As the New England Patriots travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to take on the surprisingly potent Buffalo Bills, all the ingredients are in place for a shootout. The two highest scoring offenses so far in 2011 are each going up against an opposing defense that is having trouble generating a pass rush and has some question marks in the secondary. So far, the Patriots appear to be heavy favorites. After all, why shouldn't they be? Tom Brady is 2,908 -1 against Buffalo in his career, and while the Bills have looked good so far, they haven't had to face a real test yet, and the general consensus is that there's no way that they are going to be able to stop this explosive Patriots offense.
As for me, I'm not so sure. Yes, I know that for the past 8 years, Buffalo has been New England's version of the Washington Generals. I know that the last time the Bills beat the Pats, the first Pirates of the Carribean movie had just come out, the SARS scare was in full force, and the world as we know it was completely rocked by the devastating postponement of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's wedding. And I also know that on paper, Ryan Fitzpatrick's chances of outgunning Tom Brady look only slightly better than my chances of ever dating Mila Kunis. The Patriots remain perennial Super Bowl contenders, and year after year the Bills remain about as relevant in December as my favorite pair of purple Speedos.
But none of that matters now; it's all in the past. Quoting history and breaking down matchups don't really carry any weight with me. The only thing that really matters now?
The Bills are going to beat the Patriots eventually, and it could very well happen this weekend. Find out 3 reasons why after the jump.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. New England's Pass Rush. A few analysts this past week have made the case that rushing the passer wasn't part of New England's latest game plan, as the Chargers have so many offensive weapons and dropping more players into coverage prevents the big play. And I'd like to believe that; I really would. I'd also like to believe that women are highly attracted to immature manchildren with massive noses and that Bill Belichick is reviewing my 40 page application for Official Fanboy and Team Lackey as we speak. Unfortunately, all we have to go on are facts. And the facts are that New England has given up over 700 yards through the air in the past two games and Ryan Fitzpatrick has already thrown for 500. If New England can't find a way to get to Fitzpatrick, he could easily have another 350 plus yard day. Watching highlights from Buffalo's last two wins, Fitzpatrick has worked out of a lot of 4 wide receiver sets, which creates one-on-one coverage scenarios that Mr. Harvard will be able to exploit if he has the time. New England's secondary is already starting to face some heat from critics, heat that is only partially deserved due to the amount of time they have to cover receivers downfield. With Patrick Chung's status now uncertain, it is more important than ever that New England doesn't give Fitzpatrick enough time to make his reads; if they do, the Patriots D will be in for a long day.
- Stopping Fred Jackson. I'm very excited for this matchup, because it will be the best test so far of what our revamped defensive line is capable of. I've always thought that Jackson was one of the most underrated backs in the NFL, and now that opposing defenses are starting to respect Buffalo's passing game, he is finally getting some room to run. If New England starts committing more bodies to defending the pass, Jackson is going to have a lot of room to eat up some clock and keep Tommy B off the field. I still think the edge goes to New England here, as Albert Haynesworth is primed to start blowing up offensive lines - but I think Sunday will be a good indicator of what kind of run D the Patriots will be working with this season.
- The X Factor. I don't think it's anything close to an overstatement to say that Sunday's matchup with the Patriots will be the most important game that the Bills have played since their last playoff appearance in 1999. Buffalo has a lot to be optimistic about based on these first two weeks of the 2011 season, and Sunday presents the ultimate opportunity to get a decade-long monkey off their backs and prove to the world that they belong in the conversation as legitimate contenders. The Bills are going to come into this game absolutely foaming at the mouth, and what is sure to be a jam-packed, loud, frenetic, everything-that-Gillette-should-be Ralph Wilson Stadium is only going to feed the frenzy. Bill Belichick will have the team as prepared as they can be to play in a hostile environment, but there are certain aspects of the game that just can't be coached. It's simply impossible for the Pats to want this one more than the Bills do. This game means completely different things to these teams, and there is just no way around it: to the Patriots, a loss means dropping to 2-1, moving on, and getting ready for Oakland on their way to another playoff campaign. But to Buffalo, a win on Sunday means everything: it will represent that ever-elusive turning point for the franchise, it will help them regain some respect in the eyes of the media, and it will provide a massive boost of confidence that could very well carry them to their first winning season since 2004. Buffalo is going to come into this weekend with the mentality that their entire year is riding on this game. I'm willing to bet my season pass to Bill's Bacon Shack that Chan Gailey gets a Gatorade bath if the Bills pull this one out.
Now that I've said all that, do I really think that The Bills are going to pull off an upset on Sunday?
No, I don't. I predicted the Patriots would take this game at the beginning of the year, and I'm sticking to my guns. I will say that if I find out that Buffalo has somehow managed to sneak Becky "The Icebox" O'Shea onto their cheerleading squad and plans to unleash her after halftime, then I'll have no problem changing my opinion. But word on the street is that The Icebox has retired and is living the sweet life in sunny California's beautiful San Fernando Valley, and thus I'm still fairly confident that New England will finish Week 3 at 3-0. The Patriots simply have too many weapons offensively and Buffalo is still struggling to generate a pass rush. But, this game isn't going to be a blowout, and could very well come down to who has the ball last. I can see New England winning 31-28 on a last second Stephen Gostowski field goal.
You know what scares me about this game the most? Nobody has heard from Rick Moranis since the mid-1990s. The man seems to have simply vanished. Who knows what he's doing or what he looks like at this point? Now take a look at that picture of Chan Gailey...
Stranger things have happened.