Thursday, December 17, 2009
HOW IMPORTANT IS SUNDAY'S GAME IN BUFFALO?
It's a must-win. And it's unfortunate that a Week 15 game in Buffalo is so vital. Had the Patriots been able to beat the Dolphins last week, they'd have the division all-but clinched. In fact, a win last Sunday in Miami, and the Pats could've clinched the division this Sunday with a win.
Had the Pats beaten Miami, and been able to get into the end zone against the Jets in Week 2 to win that game, then the division would be mathematically sealed and delivered to Foxborough.
Back to present reality, the Patriots are 1 game ahead in the AFC East. However, a loss on Sunday, coupled with a Miami victory, and the AFC East isn't tied at the top. Miami would have the advantage, as they would have clinched a better divisional record, which would trump any ties the Patriots and Dolphins find themselves in.
A loss on Sunday would also cripple any hopes of a Wild Card berth. As the standings lay right now, Miami, Baltimore, Jacksonville, and the Jets are all tied at 7-6 for that 6th and final AFC playoff spot. A loss on Sunday would throw the Patriots into that gaggle of teams, and with a 5-5 conference record (tie-breaker after head-to-head).
Perhaps the cold weather has got me so dismal and pessimistic. But there are some frightening FACTS about the Bills and the Patriots.
#1: The Pats barely beat the Bills in Foxborough. If not for some token Buffalo chokedom, that game would've been lost.
#2: The Bills have nothing to lose. When they're playing for something tangible, they fuck it up. But freed of such pressures and they tend to play their best football.
#3: 0-5, that's the Patriots record when playing west of Worcester.
#4: The Pats' 20-10 victory over Carolina was far from inspiring football.
#5: The Bills beat Miami 31-14 just a few weeks ago.
Now it's time to look on the bright side of things. The Bills have no passing game. For a team that's frequently trailing in games 2,311 total passing yards is pretty weak. 13 passing TDs, 16 INTs. A team rating of 69.8. The major weaknesses of the Pats' defense are pass-rushing and pass-defending. Thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick, that shouldn't be much of a worry.
And let's just say the Pats do lose to Buffalo. Miami and the Jets both have interesting schedules to negotiate. Miami is @ Tennessee Sunday, then hosts Houston, then Pittsburgh. The Jets have Atlanta at home Sunday, then @ Indy, then hosting the Bengals.
I think the Patriots will roll on Sunday. Unfortunately, it'll take Terrell Owens to get Randy Moss motivated. Even without Moss, the Pats' D will stifle Buffalo's running game enough to keep them off the board. Eventually, the Pats will score some touchdowns and win 31-10.