The 2012 version of the New England Patriots’ passing offense hasn’t been as explosive as past iterations. Tom Brady has four scores to his credit while New England is scoring 27.3 points per game this season, 4.8 fewer than its average scoreboard figure in 2011.
That number may well be forgotten after Week 4’s contest with the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo has been decent stopping the run this season. Facing Shonn Greene, Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, they have allowed 190 yards to the four backs on 56 carries.
That’s a 3.4 yards-per-carry average. Removing Hillis’ 66 yards on 11 attempts, the Bills have let up 124 yards on 45 carries to the other three guys. That’s 2.8 yards per carry.
Stevan Ridley is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season, but the Patriots have an array of passing weapons. They shouldn’t require Ridley to carry the ball 20 times in this game, instead chucking the ball around to light up the scoreboard.
The first meeting between the Patriots and Bills in 2011 saw Tom Brady throwing the ball 45 times for 387 yards, four touchdowns and four picks.
Aaron Hernandez was not involved in that game. Wes Welker caught 16 passes for a whopping 217 yards and two scores on 20 targets.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught seven balls for 109 yards and two touchdowns on nine targets.
The second-most productive wide receiver was the artist formerly known as Chad Ochocinco, who caught two passes for 28 yards on four looks from Tom Brady.
At this stage of his career, offseason acquisition Brandon Lloyd is better for the Patriots than Chad Johnson circa 2011.
Brady is likely to spread the ball around a bit more for that reason, limiting Welker’s chances to top his career-high of 217 receiving yards in a game.
He set that personal best against the Bills last year.
Gronkowski has scored seven touchdowns in four career meetings with Buffalo.
The Patriots’ aerial weapons deserve a chance to stuff the stat sheet for your fantasy team in Week 4.