September 25, 2017

Matchups of the Week – Bills at Patriots

by Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff
September 13, 2009

The much anticipated season opener against the Bills is exciting because of what it represents for Patriots fans. It’s less about this week’s opponent and more about beginning our retribution for that wretched Giants loss. Last season was knee-capped in week one, literally, and now the fans are ready for the Pats to take back the mantle as the league’s best team. Before this can happen, several internal team questions need to be answered. With this in mind, here are 5 key matchups to look for during the Monday Night Football game against the Bills:

1) Dean Pees Vs. Alex Van Pelt

Dean Pees is a thirty-seven year coaching veteran entering his fourth full year as defensive coordinator. Despite the fact that under his tutelage the Patriots have not exactly been a defensive juggernaut, Bill Belichick and the front office seems satisfied with him. Opposing him this week will the newly minted offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt. He has been on the job since September 4th, after his predecessor, Turk Schonert, was unceremoniously fired after a lackluster pre-season performance. It will be interesting to see how the play calling on both sides will turn out

2) Buffalo Receivers Vs. Pats Corners

With the addition of Terrell Owens, the Bills receiving corps is clearly a strong suit. Besides T.O., the Pats secondary has to contend with Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish, and Josh Reed. This is a tall order for the Pats’ weakest unit. Strong play from the secondary should mean success in the playoffs, and this is their first big test.

3) Tom Brady vs. Bills Pass Rush

Teams will be gunning for Tom Brady to see if he still has that pocket maneuverability. The opposing pass rush will try to frazzle Brady into making premature and errant throws. So far this preseason, Brady has performed reasonably well, but all eyes will be on him to show that he can do it when it counts.

4) Special Teams vs. Special Teams

Considering that Belichick consistently praises the Bills’ special teams, headed by Coach Bobby April, and they have been ranked best special team by the Dallas Morning News three of the last five years. This will be a formidable challenge for the Patriots.

5) Fred Jackson vs. Patriots Linebackers

With the trade of Mike Vrabel, the retirement of Tedy Bruschi, and the placement on the IR of Tyrone McKenzie and Shawn Crable the Patriots have depleted their already thin lineup at linebacker. It will be interesting to see how the Mayo, Guyton, Thomas, Woods, and Banta-Cain will come together to defend against the run. While Fred Jackson is no Marshawn Lynch, he is no slouch either, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Dan Zeigarnik is the newest addition to the Patriots Daily staff. Dan will contribute to our pre-game coverage this season with this weekly summary of the coming game’s top matchups. Welcome aboard, Dan.

About Dan Zeigarnik

Like Bill Belichick, Dan is a graduate of Wesleyan University. When he's not obsessing over the Patriots, Dan works as a project manager for a nonprofit organization aimed at helping Boston area youths. He has also managed a recent district political campaign.


  1. Box_O_Rocks says:

    Welcome Dan! Good read.

    I have questions about CB too, though I’m loathe to call them the weakest unit until we see them in action.

    I’m also interested to see the NE Linebackers vs the Buffalo Tight Ends, that was an area (Jesters @ NE) where inexperience was an issue last season.

    And throw in one query about the D-Line as we wait to see whether it’s a 40 or 30 front and how the two youngsters fit into the picture.

  2. Asking how Brady will handle the pass rush is kind of silly, isn’t it? I mean, if teams are expecting him, at this point, to deal with it differently then I think teams must have short memories of the Patriots. Seeing as Brady eats up Blitzes, that would be advantage Pats. Do they think he is Palmer, constantly seeing injury in every play?

    More interesting will be the d line against the Bills very inexperienced Oline. Will the Bills continue the two minute offense, especially seeing how TO has publicly stated how he dislikes it? Can the Bills Oline hold off a very aggressive and talented Dline of the Patriots? Can the Bills run against the Pats D, which has been very stingy against the run in the pre-season.

  3. Box_O_Rocks,

    Thanks for the kind words. I agree with you that its a little harsh to call the CB the weakest position, but someone has got to hold that unfortunate title. I am eager to have both the young corners and the young D-linemen prove themselves this season.


    I agree with you that teams will be in for a rough surprise when Brady side-steps the rush and throws a bomb to Moss. However, I have to disagree with you on the Pats D-line vs. an innexperienced Bills O-line. If they do well, it won’t show us much. If they do poorly you can also chalk it up to Seymour leaving and the young guys still learning. The Patriots D-line’s development will be very intriguing as the season progresses and will be tested in week 2 against the Jets.

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