January 1, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Bills guard Colin Brown (74) prepares to hike the ball during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Buffalo Bills Battles: New England Patriots

As the 2012 NFL Draft is now behind us, its time to take an in depth look at the Buffalo Bills 2012 opponents. In this series I will examine each of our 13 opponents off season moves as well as take a look at what their team looks like heading into the 2012 season.

Week 4: New England Patriots

Off Season Free Agent Signings and Losses

Signed:

RB Joseph Addai
WR Jabar Gaffney
WR Donte’ Stallworth
WR Brandon Lloyd
WR Anthony Gonzalez
ILB Bobby Carpenter
FB Tony Fiammetta
FB Spencer Larsen
CB Will Allen
CB Marquice Cole
TE Daniel Fells
G Robert Gallery
DE/OLB Trevor Scott
DE/DT Jonathan Fanene

Re-signed:

DE/DT Gerard Warren
C Dan Koppen
QB Brian Hoyer
WR Deion Branch
C Dan Connolly
OLB Tracy White

Lost:

Waived WR Tiquan Underwood
Announced the retirement of OT Matt Light
Dolphins sign G Gary Guyton
Giants sign CB Antwaun Molden
Bengals sign RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Bills sign DE Mark Anderson
DE/DT Mike Wright

Remaining UFA’s:

S James Ihedigbo,
DE Andre Carter
CB Nate Jones,
DE/DT Shaun Ellis,
ILB Niko Koutouvides
RB Kevin Faulk
DE/DT Mike Wright

Franchise Tag: WR Wes Welker-signed tender

2012 Draft Selections

21. Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
25. Dont’a Hightower, ILB/DE/OLB, Alabama
48. Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois
90. Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
197. Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State
224. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
235. Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

Summery

Obviously if Buffalo wants to make strides in the AFC East, New England is still the team to beat. I have been closely following the Patriots for 22 years as my best friend is a die hard New England fan. It does go without saying that I miss the 90’s more than most.

The New England Patriots fresh off a Super Bowl loss entered the off season in their usual sit and wait pattern. They let the first wave of Free Agents get signed and set the market before they start signing players. Unfortunately for them during that period one of their own defected to the rival Buffalo Bills as Mark Anderson and his 10 sacks skipped town. This year the Pats seemed to target and stack positions with aging veterans. Most of the players they signed are over the age of 28.

As you can see above they have signed players to create competition at key positions. I really respect Bill Belichick the coach, but do feel as if he is over rated as a talent evaluator. The Patriot’s are not the same since Scott Pioli went to Kansas City. The declining talent on defense over the past two years and this draft shows evidence of that. Even though they addressed their biggest needs, (defense) during the draft, I, as do many draft evaluators see a lot of reaches. With that being said I like Bequette, and do feel as if Hightower will be a stud for them.

New England has received a lot of criticism for their defense, especially their secondary. Teams were able to move the ball consistently through the air. Last season New England ranked 31st against the pass and 17th against the run. This off season the Patriots have lost half (20) of their sack production with Andre Carter and Mark Anderson no longer being with the team. Unless they can find a way to generate a pass rush, the secondary will be put to the test once again.

While New England is trying to rebuild their defense, they still have one of the most potent offensive attacks in the NFL. Everyone knows about Tom Brady and their pair of elite Tight Ends. The competition at Wide Receiver should create an excellent group for Brady and company. I’m intrigued by the acquisitions of two full backs, especially Tony Fiammetta who was the lead blocker for DeMarco Murray. Will we see New England try to run the ball more this year?

This game will be yet another early season test for the Buffalo Bills and their new look defense. Last season Buffalo shocked the world by upsetting New England in their first meeting of the year. Make no mistake this year, Belichick and his New England Patriots will be looking to make a statement of their own come September 30th.

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Sunday, Sep 2828 Sep12:00at Houston TexansBuy Tickets

Tags: Buffalo Bills New England Patriots

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