If you didn’t already know, I’m a die hard Bills fan. I have trouble grasping the concept that this could be a close game, or it could be a complete whipping from either side. I think this season opener is more important to these two teams than any that they’ve had in recent memory. With that being said, here are the keys to the game for Buffalo and what they need to win.
1) A little Fitz-magic, some Fitz-consistency and a whole lot of Fitz-ACCURACYRyan Fitzpatrick didn’t dazzle anyone this preseason. With only 208 yards passing on 21 of 43 passing (which computes out to a completion percentage of a measly48.8%), Fitzpatrick wasn’t exactly a superstar. He’s a key to this team’s success. If the team wants to live up to expectations this year, he needs to be able to show up every sunday. He started off on fire last year, throwing for almost 1,500 yards in his first 6 games before a rib injury in week 7 against the Redskins slowed his season down almost to a total halt. Fitzpatrick needs to show the fire that he showed at the beginning of last season against the Jets. A slow start will doom this team. He needs to get after the defense early and not let up.
2) Test the Stevie Johnson/Darrelle Revis Matchup This has the potential to be an interesting matchup. Stevie Johnson has had some success on Revis Island, but Darrelle Revis laughs off the idea that Stevie J has his number. Last year, Johnson had games of eight receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown as well as three catches for 84 yards, including a 52-yard completion. Not a lot of wide receivers can claim that they averaged around 80 yards a game competing against Revis. Whether Stevie is in his head or not is a totally different ball game. This is going to be a good matchup to watch, and could be a deciding factor in this game. Another factor in this that might get overlooked is the question of “can TJ Graham and David Nelson make enough catches to keep the pressure off Stevie?” Keep an eye on this one, folks. Definite fireworks material here.
3) PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE The team made a big leap with the defensive line this offseason, but you already know that if you’ve read any article about the Bills in the past few months. This is going to be important to the flow of the game. Mario Williams and Mark Anderson should be able to win some battles in the trenches and create havoc in the backfield. If pressure is constant on Mark Sanchez, he WILL make mistakes. If Sanchez makes mistakes, the Jets fans are going to start calling for… (sigh) this leads me to my next point.
4) Give ESPN what they want. The second that Mark Sanchez does something wrong, Jets fans are going to start booing. When the fans start booing, Rex Ryan is going to panic. When he panics, he’s going to call on his secret weapon. When his secret weapon enters the game, the Bills will profit. If Tim Tebow enters the game, a few things are going to happen. First, every reporter that works for ESPN is going to collectively pee themselves with happiness. When the Bills faced off against Tebow and his surging Broncos last season, the “chosen one” left with 185 passing yards, 3 interceptions, a fumble, and a 40-14 loss. Rex Ryan has stated that he plans to use Tebow in the Wildcat formation in week 1. Any chance we can to force Tim Tebow (Or Mark Sanchez, for that matter) to make mistakes needs to be capitalized on.
I think this could and SHOULD be a close game. I think Buffalo has a lot of opportunities to win this one, but it’s all about capitalizing. Fitzpatrick needs to keep the mistakes to a minimum and the defense needs to pounce on any opportunity they can get to rattle this team. The Jets are a team that seem like they could get shaken up easily. We’re less than a week away folks. It’s time to get excited. Circle Em.
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