Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 4 AFC East game picks: Patriots at Bills

Lead writer Nick St. Denis and AFC East Daily contributors Dan Begnoche, Sean Donovan and Sam Hollingsworth pick the Buffalo Bills' home divisional bout with the New England Patriots.

Nick's take:
The Patriots are due for a win after losing their last two to the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals -- two teams that boast elite-level defenses. The Bills strung together a couple wins against so-so opponents, and I expect Buffalo's defense to look more like it did against the Jets in Week 1. Tom Brady will get the ball out quickly, and Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski have big games. Also, the Patriots' multiple defense gets the best of Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will need to carry the offense with his running backs corps decimated with injuries.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Bills 20

Dan's take:
Buffalo's September win against the Pats last year was its first since 2003, but a lot has changed since then. Buffalo's defensive front has shown great improvement from a season ago, though the Pats' defense, particularly their run defense, isn't too shabby, either. The key to beating the Pats, as the Cardinals and Ravens have showed, is keeping Tom Brady out of sync, and expect the Bills to throw a lot of blitzes Brady's way coupled with press coverage on the outside. If Buffalo can tally four or more sacks they'll have this one in the bag.
Prediction: Bills 24, Patriots 20

Sean's take:
It's a testament to a team's success when a two-game losing streak is a nearly unprecedented stumble. That's where the Patriots are, as they travel to Buffalo to take on a Bills team that has won its past two games, albeit against the lowly Chiefs and Browns. Buffalo's rash of injuries at the tailback position will force Fitzpatrick to be more effective, which isn't something he has shown he can reliably do. The Bills won't have it easy on either side of the ball in this game, and the Patriots should be able to exert their will on an out-classed opponent.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Bills 16

Sam's take:
The Patriots suffered their first loss in 16 tries during their trip to Buffalo last year, and the Pats may be more vulnerable now than they were then. On the verge of their first three-game skid in more than a decade, I don’t expect the Patriots to take their time getting on the board in this one, nor will they ease up on a defense that owned Brady last year.
Prediction: Patriots 41, Bills 14