The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots have been polar opposites in divisional play this season. While the Patriots have dominated in the AFC East, going 2-0 with an average winning margin of nearly two touchdowns, the Bills have struggled, losing by an average of 22 points per game.
This AFC East rivalry is one of the most lopsided in sports over the last 10 years. After the Bills won at home in 2003 to start the season, the Pats won 15 straight games and have won 17 of the last 18 meetings.
However, hope springs eternal in Buffalo, and the Bills will be looking to make up for an embarrassing 52-28 loss at home earlier this season after going up 21-7 and proceeding to give up six straight touchdowns.
Now it's time for the Patriots to host Buffalo, and while it will be even more difficult for the Bills to win on the road, it's not impossible. Crazier things have happened.
Where: Gillette Stadium
When: Sunday, November 11 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Spread: New England (-11) (via Bovada)
After New England toasted the Bills in Week 4, you might think that the spread in this game would be even larger. It's already one of the largest in the NFL for Week 10, but the Bills have been so bad against the Patriots that this may be generous.
The Pats are coming off a bye week, and whenever you give Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and extra week to prepare, you're in serious trouble. Since 2003 the Pats are 8-1 when coming off a bye week, including three straight victories against Buffalo from 2005 to 2007.
While the Bills did put up a fight against the Houston Texans last week, that was coming off of their own bye week, and I can't see them doing so against the Patriots.
Over/Under: 52 (via Bovada)
The last time these two teams met the Patriots put up 52 points all by themselves. While I'm not saying that that will happen again, there is always the possibility.
I could easily see the Pats putting up four or five touchdowns this week, which leaves the question up to you: Can the Bills make up the rest?
With both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson healthy, and the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for four touchdowns against the Pats in Week 4, I'm taking the over on this one.
Buffalo Injury Report (via Yahoo! as of Nov. 8, 2012)
|Eric Wood C||Probable||Knee|
|Mario Williams DE||Probable||Wrist|
|Kyle Williams DT||Questionable||Ankle|
|Chris White LB||Probable||Back|
|Kraig Urbik G||Probable||Ankle|
|C.J. Spiller RB||Probable||Shoulder|
|Brad Smith WR||Probable||Chest|
|Justin Rogers CB||Probable||Thigh|
|Andy Levitre G||Probable||Knee|
|Chris Kelsay DE||Probable||Ankle|
|Donald Jones WR||Probable||Low back|
|Spencer Johnson DE||Probable||Ankle|
|Chris Hairston T||Probable||Knee|
|T.J. Graham WR||Probable||Ankle|
|Cordy Glenn T||Questionable||Ankle|
|Marcell Dareus DT||Probable||Shoulder|
|Ron Brooks CB||Probable||Foot|
|Mark Anderson DE||Out||Knee|
New England Injury Report (via Yahoo! as of Nov. 8, 2012)
|Vince Wilfork DT||Probable||Illness|
|Kyle Love DT||Probable||Knee|
|Wes Welker WR||Questionable||Ankle|
|Sebastian Vollmer T||Questionable||Back, knee|
|Sterling Moore S||Questionable||Knee|
|Nick McDonald G||Questionable||Shoulder|
|Jerod Mayo LB||Questionable||Elbow, illness|
|Logan Mankins G||Questionable||Calf, hip|
|Brandon Lloyd WR||Questionable||Knee|
|Dont'a Hightower LB||Questionable||Hamstring|
|Rob Gronkowski TE||Questionable||Hip|
|Julian Edelman WR||Questionable||Hand|
|Ron Brace DT||Questionable||Back|
|Tracy White LB||Out||Foot|
|Trevor Scott DE||Out||Hamstring|
|Aaron Hernandez TE||Out||Ankle|
|Steve Gregory S||Out||Hip|
|Brandon Bolden RB||Out||Knee|
|Patrick Chung S||Out||Shoulder|
Fantasy Big Plays
Buffalo: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
He may have thrown four interceptions in Week 4, but he also threw for 350 yards and four scores as well. Putting up an impressive 21 points, Fitzpatrick was a viable option in Week 4.
This time around, the Bills will likely go down early in the game since their defense has been abysmal this year, giving up an average of 31 points per game.
Once the Bills go down, they will be throwing the ball constantly, giving Fitzpatrick a ton of opportunities against the No. 28 pass defense in the league.
Projected Stats: 24-for-49, 307 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
New England: RB Stevan Ridley
The Bills have arguably the worst run defense in the NFL this year, giving up nearly 170 yards on the ground per contest and surrendering the most points to opposing fantasy running backs.
The Bills gave up 50 fantasy points to the Patriots' running backs in Week 4, including 22 to Ridley and 20 to Brandon Bolden.
Bolden has missed the last two games and is listed a questionable for Sunday, which means that Ridley will be getting almost all of the carries this week. Look for him to have the game of his life on Sunday.
Projected Stats: 31 rushes, 142 yards, 2 TD
Key to Victory
The Battle in the Trenches
The old cliche that the game of football is won and lost in the trenches couldn't be more accurate to describe this game.
Buffalo's defensive line, that was supposed to be among the NFL's best this season, has struggled mightily, including sacking Brady only once when these two teams first met.
Brady is unstoppable if given enough time, and his offensive line certainly gave him that and more in Week 4. If the Bills can't get in the backfield, they can't stop Brady, and they certainly won't be able to bottle up the run.
On the other side of things, New England recorded three sacks against the Bills in Week 4, constantly pressuring Ryan Fitzpatrick and forcing errant throws (hence his four interceptions).
If Buffalo's offensive line continues to struggle, it will be a long day for Fitzpatrick and the running backs.
The Patriots appear to have just about every advantage possible in this game. Home-field advantage, an extra week to prepare and a hot Tom Brady who has thrown for 958 yards and eight touchdowns over his last three games.
Brady is 10-0 against the Bills at home in his career, and I see him improving that record to 11-0 on Sunday.