Tomorrow, the New England Patriots will face the Buffalo Bills in what some could call an early season "must win" game. The Patriots sit at 1-2 through three weeks of the 2012 season, and a loss would drop them to 1-3 - a hole that no playoff contender wants to face at this stage of the season.
That being said, many are expecting the Patriots to go into Buffalo tomorrow and take care of business. Why you ask? Because they have to.
In my opinion, that's not a good enough reason. At 2-1, the Bills are one of the NFL's hottest teams and are tied for the AFC East lead with the New York Jets. They see tomorrow's game as a chance to finally turn a new leaf in the AFC East, and shock a Patriots team that has dominated the Bills over the last decade. But as Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings writes, the Bills started to make real progress against the Patriots in 2011, and dedicated their offseason to matching up better against New England:
The Bills, however, did things against New England last year that they hadn't done in a long time. First, they beat them - for the first time in 16 tries - 34-31 in Orchard Park, aided by four Tom Brady interceptions. Then they spanked the pants off of them in the first quarter in Week 17, opening up a 21-0 lead before ultimately giving up 49 straight points in a huge loss. These were, somewhat sadly, major steps for a Bills franchise that has been completely dominated by New England for over a decade.
Things may be changing, however. The Patriots have struggled out of the gate and come into Buffalo with a 1-2 record. The 2-1 Bills spent an off-season shoring up its defense specifically to be more competitive against the Patriots. It's a new season for both teams, and the latest Bills/Pats matchup kicks off at 1PM tomorrow at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Another thing to keep in mind heading into tomorrow's game: how much the Patriots pass defense struggled against the Ravens because of the team's inability to consistently put pressure on the quarterback. The Bills' offensive line has allowed just one sack all season, and if the Patriots front four of Chandler Jones, Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork, and Rob Ninkovich struggles for a second week, it could mean another long day for the Patriots against the Pats.
So how do I think the game will turn out?
Well, I wouldn't exactly call this game a trap - the Patriots are likely well prepared for the much improved Bills - this game could be somewhat of a "trap" for fans. I think a lot of fans are expecting the Patriots to come out and roll over the Bills, and while I expect New England to be sharp following two straight losses, the Bills are no push-over. Ultimately, I expect a close game, that will be relatively scoring. I still expect New England to come out on top, and right the ship.
Greg's Prediction: Patriots 31 Bills 23