Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 9/29/12

Less than 24-hours before kickoff and so many unanswered questions remain. Is C.J. Spiller going to play? How affective will Fred Jackson be in his return back from a Week 1 injury? Are Rob Gronkowski and Logan Mankins even going to suit up for the Patriots? Is this a must win game for New England on the road? How will a struggling Patriots’ offensive line deal with Buffalo’s front seven? Why is that dog so angry at Tom Brady? There are few must win games in September but with the Bills 2-1 with a chance to make a statement at home against the 1-2 Patriots, this has all the makings of a great game.

What New England Must Do in Order to Win This Game

The Patriots must find their offensive rhythm early and keep their foot on the gas. Don’t let up, no matter what. I’m still under the impression that the offense, no the defense, is what lost the Patriots their last two games because of a mundane play selection. Sure, Aaron Hernandez is out, but we have all witnessed Tom Brady flourish in this league without anything close to resembling a top tier wide receiver on a leaguewide spectrum. Troy Brown is a New England legend, but I don’t think Canton will be calling any time soon. Deion Branch? Well… We saw his limitations when he left New England for Seattle. Tom Brady doesn’t need Hernandez to be a great quarterback. He does, however, need a solid performance from his offensive line. If Logan Mankins can’t go, I assume he’s in a coma. After playing (reportedly) all of 2011 on two torn ACLs I can’t fathom him missing a game for any other reason than he is six feet below the ground and no longer breathing. This will also be a huge test for Nate Solder who will need to contain Mario Williams and limit his production as much as possible. If the ofensive line can hold Buffalo to as few pressures as possible, then there is no doubt in my mind Brady can pick apart this defense. I mean, the Jets torched this Bills defense in Week 1. Anyone who thinks the Jets offense is better than New Englands has no business with any sort of job or steady income.

What Buffalo Must Do in Order to Win This Game

Possession. As Pittsburgh showed us last season, it is much easier to beat the Patriots when Tom Brady is on the sideline for 40 minutes. If Spiller and Jackson are healthy, Buffalo should utilize them as much as possible on first and second down. That’s not to say they should run the ball constantly because Vince Wilfork will have none of that. But if Buffalo gets creative and opens up the screen game they should be able to march down the field methodically and affectively. Ray Rice must’ve caught a half dozen short dump off passes last Sunday and it absolutely killed New England. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can utilize his running backs. he can control the ball, the pace, and the game. If Fitzpatrick tries to play brazenly, it will burn him. Keep the Patriots’ defense on the field as long as possible, settle for field goals if need be, and let your defense get you the ball back. If Buffalo has any quick three and outs in the first half, especially after a Patriots scoring drive, they will dig themselves into an early hole which they will not be able to get out of come the fourth quarter.

Final Prediction

35-24 New England. I haven’t picked against the Patriots all season long and I’m sure as **** not going to start now. Why would I? Cause I’m a homer? No. I’m simply playing the law of averages to my advantage. New England doesn’t go 1-3. Just doesn’t happen. Well, not with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick running the show at least. While the Patriots have lost to a solid Cardinals team and a better Ravens team, the Bills beat a winless Browns team and a struggling Chiefs squad in the Bills home opener. While plenty of people are ready to write the Patriots off, I’m staying put. There is no reason to panic in New England… yet.


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