Bills (0-2) at New England Patriots
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
VENUE: Gillette Stadium
LOCATION: Foxborough, Mass.
CBS (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills haven't defeated the Patriots since
2003. That won't likely change here. The Patriots are incredibly strong at home
and the Bills are a work in progress. Coach Chan Gailey turned to Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier in the week as his new
starting quarterback. Whether that breathes life into an offense with a shortage
of talent is uncertain. WR Randy Moss and QB
Tom Brady might hook up often -- the Bills
aren't getting to the quarterback, and Brady will heave it deep when Moss has
extra time to extend routes and uncover. There's no obvious answer to the
Patriots' rotating wheel at tailback. Without Kevin Faulk, it'll be interesting to see how the
third-down void is filled.
FAST FACTS: The Patriots are 43-14 vs. the
AFC East since 2001. ... The Bills haven't had a 300-yard passer in 58
First it was running back, then
quarterback, now wide receiver.
Two weeks into the NFL
season, coach Chan Gailey is showing that he's not afraid of
Wide receiver Steve
Johnson has confirmed that he has been replaced in the starting lineup by Roscoe Parrish when the Bills use a two-receiver
set. Johnson dropped a couple passes in last week's loss to Green Bay, one that
set up a Packers' touchdown.
Johnson, who had a poor
training camp but managed to earn a roster spot, wasn't surprised by the
"No, because we made changes throughout the team, from
line to running back, to receiver," he said. "I had a change in my role. Now
quarterback is no surprise. Coach Gailey is trying to find the best fit because
we're trying to win games."
When the Bills go to a
three-wide formation, Johnson will be the outside man and the smaller Parrish
will shift inside.
The Bills have used mostly three- and
four-wide looks this young season.
It's peculiar that Gailey
would view the smallish Parrish as a better option opposite Lee Evans, who isn't a big receiver either.
Parrish has been productive, however, with four catches for 69 yards (17.3
average) and one touchdown playing from the slot.
has six catches for 71 yards.
The numbers don't show it -- yet -- but the Buffalo Bills upgraded their rushing
attack during the offseason with the addition of first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller, who has joined an already-crowded
backfield that also features Marshawn Lynch
and Fred Jackson.
two games, the Bills are ranked just 23rd in the league in rushing, but the
Patriots aren't taking anything for granted as they prepare to host Buffalo on
Sunday in an attempt to get back into the win column.
tell you what, they've got three good backs -- Spiller, (Marshawn) Lynch and
Fred Jackson," nose tackle Vince Wilfork
said. "They're all tough runners, so we're going to have our hands full. They've
been running the ball successfully and we have a big, big challenge ahead this
week in trying to stop a three-headed monster."
the Patriots got torn apart by the Jets' rushing attack in the second half,
though they're still ranked among the middle of the pack in run defense. The
push starts with Wilfork, who plays an integral role as the anchor of New
England's 3-4 defense.
"Most of the time you hear about two
guys, or one good back, but they really have three good backs who can run the
ball very, very well," Wilfork said. "It's just about getting back to the
basics, playing good technique, communicate well, and execute well. If we do
that we'll be in good shape."
Depending on what looks the
Patriots show defensively, the Bills might try to establish the run early,
especially since quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is making the start over Trent Edwards, who's been benched after two poor
showings this season. Spiller and Lynch are the focal points of the rushing
attack while Taylor plays more of a secondary role.
both very good, explosive guys that can take the ball the distance," coach Bill
Belichick said. "I'd say, Lynch really can play on all downs and all situations.
I don't really see anything he can't do and do well -- run inside, run outside.
(He) runs around and through tacklers. (He) catches the ball
"Spiller is more of a space player. He's better out in
the open field. He's real good out in the open field returning, screens, draws,
loose plays and things like that. He's very fast, very dangerous, very elusive.
Lynch is a powerful guy. You see him breaking tackles by defensive lineman,
running through them, not just DBs. He runs through a lot of tackles on
everybody. Pound for pound he's got to be one of the strongest players in the
league with good balance."
Fitzpatrick, who will start Sunday's game at New England, faced the Patriots
last year. He completed 17 of 25 passes for 178 yards, one TD and one
interception and was benched briefly in favor of Trent Edwards who wound up
quickly getting injured.
--RB Marshawn Lynch, who started
last week's loss at Green Bay and ran well, will start Sunday at New England
only if the package the Bills want to open with involves Lynch and his powerful
north-south running style. Gailey is being non-committal about his running
backs, saying Lynch, Fred Jackson or rookie C.J. Spiller could get the nod any
Levitre practiced Thursday and is on track for playing Sunday at New
England. He suffered a neck "stinger" in last week's game at Green Bay, but
appears to be fine.
Harris, who sat out last week's game with a hamstring injury, is practicing
fully this week. He'll be available if needed Sunday at New England and would
help the team's special teams.
--SS Donte Whitner said opponents have mocked the
Bills for their play on the field in recent years. The Packers did it last week
and this week's opponent, the Patriots, have done the same thing in the past.
New England has won 13 games in a row against Buffalo. "The Green Bay Packers were laughing at us. Aaron Rodgers and a lot of those guys were
laughing at us towards the end of the football game, and that never feels good,"
Whitner said. "We can't keep allowing that to happen because guys go out and
they work too hard."
--LT Demetrius Bell, who has had his snaps monitored
coming off knee surgery last year, was able to play all but three plays against
the Packers and appears close to 100
--RB Fred Taylor was limited in practice Thursday due
to a toe injury. While there's no word yet on the severity of the injury, the
Patriots are hopeful he can play considering their sudden lack of depth at
Edelman was limited in practice Thursday for the second day in a row with a
foot injury. Edelman will most likely be a game-time decision, though another
week on the sideline wouldn't be a surprise.
--WR Taylor Price was limited in practice Thursday
due to an ankle injury. There's no immediate word on the severity of the injury,
though Price should be able to play Sunday against Buffalo.
--OL Nick Kaczur missed practice again Friday
with a back injury. Kaczur has yet to play this season and has been ruled out
Wheatley missed practice for the third day in a row with a foot injury and
will sit out Sunday for the third week in a row.