Ten final thoughts on the Patriots and Bills
|09.25.11 at 7:47 am ET|
With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on the Patriots and Bills:
1. All signs point to lots of opportunities for Chad Ochocinco. We noted this in our matchups, and with Taylor Price now officially downgraded to out and Aaron Hernandez on the shelf for another week or two with a knee injury, Ochocinco should see some chances against Buffalo. For what it’s worth, he’s played six career games against the Bills and has 29 catches for 385 yards and two touchdowns.
2. In that same vein, the fact that Albert Haynesworth is officially out (and the fact that Myron Pryor landed on injured reserve this week) should mean more reps for Kyle Love, a young defensive lineman who looked very impressive in limited action over the preseason and into the nascent stages of the regular season. Landon Cohen, who returned to the Patriots’ 53-man roster this week, could also see time on the inside. And it could also kickstart a chain reaction that could end up having Shaun Ellis move inside from end to tackle, and possibly see the Patriots utilize Jermaine Cunningham as an end.
3. Overall, the Patriots are really thin at two key positions — tackle and safety. No Chung at safety means New England will likely give significant snaps to James Ihedigbo and perhaps even Ross Ventrone, who was promoted from the practice squad this week. (You want surreal comedy? Check out Ventrone’s Twitter page. That’s where Ventrone, aka @RustyBenson35 delivers words of wisdom.) At tackle, it’s going to be Nate Solder on the right, filling in for Sebastian Vollmer, while Light will be on the left side. If either one go down for a significant stretch, the Patriots could be forced to use Logan Mankins as an emergency tackle.
4. Your Tom Brady stat o’ the week, courtesy of this week’s edition of Nuggetpalooza: Brady is 17-for-18 passing in the first quarter (94 percent) this season. Overall, Brady has completed 94 percent in the first quarter and 65 percent (46-for-70) over the rest of the game.
5. The Bills put new turf down in Ralph Wilson Stadium this summer, and there was some slipping and sliding in last week’s home opener for Buffalo on both sides.
6. I wrote about a billion stories heralding the Buffalo special teams when Bobby April was there. While they’ve clearly taken a step back after April left after the 2010 season, it’s still a relatively dangerous group. Brad Smith has the ability to break one as a kick returner, and it sure looks like C.J. Spiller is going to be returning punts. The Patriots have done well at containing their opponents on special teams through two games (Tracy White and Matthew Slater have been absolutely beastly), and need to keep that up on Sunday. It’s also going to be interesting watching punter Zoltan Mesko and whether or not that left knee is going to hold up.
7. It’s hard not to like Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, who is reminded every day that he went to Harvard, kicked around with Cincinnati and St. Louis before landing in Buffalo as an afterthought prior to the 2009 season. After kicking the tires on several other possibilities over the years, he’s settled into the starters’ job nicely, and after Buffalo’s 2-0 start, is looking at the possibility of an extension. A good guy and a good player who deserves all the success he gets. (Frankly, it’s hard not to like Stevie Johnson as well. A free spirit who speaks his mind — he’d be a burgeoning star if he played in a bigger market — he also has unique taste in birthday cakes. We won’t link to it here, but Google “Stevie Johnson” and “birthday cake,” and you’ll see what I mean.)
8. There’s no no other way to spin this — he’s a nice guy, and his teammates and coaches rave about him, but the fact that Taylor Price is now inactive for the 18th time in 19 chances in his year-plus in the NFL is disappointing. Sitting and watching as a rookie is understandable, but he has now been inactive all three games in 2011.
9. Four links to get you ready for the game: ten matchups to keep an eye on Sunday, an in-depth look at the Patriots offense and what’s made it go through two games, a look at why the Patriots are so worried about Freddie Jackson and a story on how seamlessly guard Brian Waters has become part of the New England offensive line.
10. Patriots, 38-24.