Over two weeks in late March and early April, the New England Patriots' first game of the 2009 season seems to have gotten easier.
A few days ago, we learned that Marshawn Lynch, the Bills' starting running back, had been suspended for three games after his latest run-in with the law (this time for gun possession).
Then, on April 11, starting Buffalo DB Donte Whitner was Tasered and arrested for aggravated disorderly conduct.
Though Whitner was released early the morning after his arrest and no charges were filed, he may yet be punished by the NFL. You can expect him to be sitting on the bench (or perhaps not even in the stadium) the night that the Patriots face the Bills in September.
The Patriots' game plan after hearing about the suspensions should be pretty obvious. They'll attack and shut down the Bills' running game since Lynch (not their only good back, but their leading rusher the past few seasons) will be absent. This will force Buffalo to use their quarterback and make him more open to attack.
The Patriots don't have a "James Harrison" type this year, but I'm sure they could find a way to rush the pass and maybe get a few interceptions to go with those sacks.
After the New England D shuts down the opposing offense, the Patriots will have no difficulty taking out the blockers and allowing Tom Brady and Randy Moss (not to mention the rest of the receivers) to control the game.
With Whitner out of the game, Tom Brady's elite talent will shine even more brightly.
It could be a particularly demoralizing loss for the Bills. Here's hoping they avoid an extended, Detroit Lion-like slump.
One thing's for sure: Due to the offseason troubles of Lynch and Whitner, the first three teams to play the Buffalo Bills will have an easier job than they would have had if those two hadn't been in the wrong place at the wrong time.