The New England Patriots come into the Sunday September 8 opener as 10 point favorites on the road. On Saturday, according to CBSSports.com, the Patriots left Rob Gronkowski home, so he is an official scratch from week one. Late last week the Buffalo Bills confirmed that first round pick E.J. Manuel would be starting under center. In fact, he’s one of two AFC East rookie quarterbacks taking the plunge into the NFL season. The game starts 1:00 p.m. on CBS.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, they will not have the services of Rob Gronkowski, but they do have an up and coming prospect in rookie Zach Sudfeld. The past few years, the tight end position has been critical to Tom Brady’s success, and with the loss of his five best pass catchers, a whole new crop of receivers must grow up early.
Tom Brady is entering his 14th season and many people believe that the Patriots will wrap up the division title by week two. New England is looking at the AFC as a whole, rather than the division foes. Not that they won’t prepare for each team in the same manner, but it will be far fetched to believe the Patriots won’t win the division.
However, they must get started early. Last season, three rookie quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills are in the same boat with E.J. Manuel at quarterback. Manuel may be the perfect guy to galvanize the team and its talent.
The Bills have one of the best running backs in the league. C.J. Spiller is a threat to break a big run on any play. He’s also a nice receiver out of the backfield. If Buffalo is to pull the upset, they must get Spiller involved early.
Once the Bills get the Patriots’ defense on their heels, E.J. can use his precision passing game. That means Buffalo must win first down more often than not.
During an NFL season, you can go weeks or months without figuring a scheme to stop Tom Brady. In fact, there are only a few teams that have the roster to slow down New England’s offense. The first thing opponents have to do is create pressure up front. If you even think about sitting back, Brady will pick you apart.
Everyone will know early if Buffalo is utilizing the right scheme to take down Brady. New England will run the ball and they are equipped to use the quick tempo. Also keep a lookout for Danny Amendola. Let’s see how healthy he is with his groin injury.
The Verdict: Zach Sudfeld is going to become a star by the end of the day. You know Tom Brady saw what Peyton Manning did and he’ll try to go out and match the effort from Thursday night. E.J. Manuel has a chance to show how big time he is from day one. While Buffalo plays well, it won’t be good enough to win on opening day. That is unless they create a major amount of turnovers.
New England 38
For more sports news, check out Top 10+1 Sports Blog.