Minus Kanye’s epic fail at the VMA’s, I think he said it best. “Welcome to Heartbreak.” That’s what Bills’ fan were feeling after the third straight year of broken hearts last Monday night.
Time ran out on Trent Edwards and the gang, but there were some great things to take away from last week’s loss. He went 15-of-25 for 212 yards with two scores and no picks – numbers that are great starting point for the season. New offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt unleashed Fred Jackson on the Patriots defense, leaving them confused and frustrated whenever he touched the ball. His 140 total yards of total offense hinted at a great potential duo whenever Marshawn Lynch returns. The Patriots defense did a good job of containing the 1-2 receiving punch of Lee Evans and Terrell Owens, limiting them to a combined five catches for 71 yards.
Aside from the fourth quarter, the Bills’ defense played well. Aaron Schobel returned with vigor with a highlight-reel pick six. The defensive line put great pressure on Tom Brady and rookie Aaron Maybin stepped up when Chris Kelsay left the game with an injury. A creepy déjà vu moment left Paul Posluszny with a broken arm – eerily similar to what happened two years ago at Gillette Stadium. He’s out six weeks, but after the performance of Keith Ellison and Marcus Buggs, Buffalo may not have to worry too much. Ellison was exploited by Ben Watson late, but isn’t as much of a liability as critics say.
This week against Tampa, Terrell Owens needs to break out some ABBA in the huddle and have Edwards “take a chance on me.” The Bills have to find a way to expose the Bucs’ secondary and make a big-time play. The underneath stuff to Shawn Nelson and Jackson is fine but if Buffalo wants any chance of getting back to the playoffs, deep passes are needed.
Last week against Dallas, Tampa Bay gave up three touchdown passes of 40 yards or more, so Edwards must jump on and suffocate an already sputtering defense. The Bucs may be missing long-time Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks—or at least his good years. On the other side, Buffalo’s defense needs to shut down Cadillac Williams and free-agent acquisition Derrick Ward, who make an outstanding one-two punch in the backfield. They combined for 150 yards and two scores last week, so stopping the run game will be a key component for a win today.
Getting pressure on quarterback Byron Leftwich will also be clutch – keeping Buffalo’s offense on the field to take advantage of a young secondary will stack points. If Buffalo can rally from last week and Edwards improves on his performance, expect a win today at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Prediction: Buffalo 28, Tampa Bay 10