Though the New England Patriots are still arguably a dynasty, there is no question that they are one of the NFL's elite teams. They have Hall of Famers in coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. And fresh off of a 13-3 record and AFC Crown, the Patriots figure to continue intimidating their opposition.
But they won't make Buffalo blink.
This is GM Buddy Nix told the Toronto Sun:
"We expect a lot out of ourselves. New England, the AFC—they don't scare me. I think we can compete with any of 'em, and our intention is to try to win the division."
Although New England is one of the NFL's finest, why would their dominance scare Buffalo heading into 2012? This Bills squad was constructed for one purpose. The big free agency spending and smart draft was for one goal—to dethrone the New England Patriots.
This Bills squad is made to take down the Patriots. Every time Buffalo squares off against them, they get to compare themselves to arguably the best team.
The Bills got to New England last year, finally breaking them down and ending up on the winning side of things. How did they do it? Pressure on Brady and solid defense for the majority of the game.
While Buffalo recorded no sacks, the pressure on Brady led to him throwing four interceptions when they played on September 25th, 2011. Sure, Brady did carve up the defense but when he needed to make a play, but the defense gave him a difficult time.
In the offseason, the Bills added a prized free agent in Mario Williams. They even stole double-digit sack man Mark Anderson from the Patriots. Why? To get more pressure on Brady, to force more mistakes.
Twice a year Brady must face the league's premier defensive line. At defensive ends are the Pro Bowlers Williams and Anderson, who recorded five tackles and 1.5 sacks for New England last Super Bowl.
At defensive tackles are the Pro Bowler Kyle Williams and up-and-comer Marcell Dareus, who led the Bills with 5.5 sacks last season.
If the Bills defensive line can simply hurry up Brady's decision making, chances are he will make some mistakes. And if Buffalo was able to punish Brady with four interceptions in a game last year, they can pounce on him again.
The Bills also know the Patriots are a pass-first team. The Patriots almost run the ball to simply frustrate or toy with a defense. But Brady threw for over 5,000 yards last season and threw for 50 touchdowns in 2007, so the Bills upgraded their secondary.
The drafted the very mature and pro-ready player that is Stephon Gilmore. They were even interested in bringing back Jim Leonhard to increase their talent level. Rookie Ron Brooks has looked impressive, and Aaron Williams has experience under his belt. And with ball-hawking Jairus Byrd at safety, the secondary is in good hands.
On offense, the Bills should be good enough to beat New England. Sure, the Patriots have Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo. But their secondary isn't exactly a feared unit.
The offense will run through Fred Jackson, who was crucial in that win nearly a year ago. The Bills can take their chances on the deep ball because Stevie Johnson cannot be contained by a single defensive back on the Pats. Double him up and it simply creates an opening elsewhere.
The Bills have no reason to fear the Patriots. They should absolutely, 100 percent respect them and not overlook them, but not fear them. Their team was built to beat them. Their 2012 offseason puts them in prime position to not only compete with the big boys, but beat them once more.