The Patriots defense has struggled to some degree this season, especially the secondary. Stevie Johnson has had a few quality games against them already. Is he the factor that they are trying the hardest to shut down?
Stevie Johnson averages about four receptions for 49 yards when playing the New England Patriots in his career, and I think his play against the Pats is extremely overstated. He’s playing with a thigh contusion that will limit him, and he had just two catches the last time the Bills faced the Patriots. That injury severely limited him last week against the Houston Texans, and I expect a day around his career averages. The problem with defending Johnson is that he can go off for a huge game, but I don’t see this being a huge game for him.
The Patriots are going to have to key in on C.J. Spiller, who has been the best running back in the league this year. Johnson is the player whom the Bills pass defense runs through, but I’d be more worried about Spiller. He’s as elusive as anyone and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry. I think he’s been the best running back in the league this year.
Even though the team had some issues early on, the Patriots seem to have gotten themselves together. With the three other teams appearing to be inferior once again, will New England begin to dominate the division?
Yes, the Patriots are clearly the class of the AFC East and will continue to pull away. The Jets are done, the Bills defense is in shambles, and the Dolphins are the only other team that can feasibly challenge the Pats. I love the Bills offense, but you can’t win many games if you allow 31 points per game.
Who is the most important player for the Patriots this week?
The most important player for the Patriots is going to be Brandon Spikes, because he’s going to need to spearhead the attack in stopping C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. He’s also going to be tasked with stopping Scott Chandler on short routes, but it’s difficult to single out one Patriot who is going to be more important than the other. In fact, it all depends on how the Bills attack the Pats on offense. Ultimately, most of the pressure is going to be on the Pats defense.
With Brandon Bolden not playing, will slack be picked up by Ridley?
There is no slack to pick up. Brandon Bolden didn’t play against the Jets and Shane Vereen rose up for 49 yards, and the Patriots still managed to run it all over the Rams defense two weeks ago. Bolden is a nice player to have, but he isn’t a necessity at all. Ridley is still going to be as good as ever and get the same amount of carries with/without Bolden, and Bolden wasn’t even going to play against Buffalo. He’s been dealing with a knee injury for a while now, and the Patriots have a deep stable of backs. It’s a minor blow, in all honesty.
What’s your prediction for the game?
I think this game ends up being pretty high scoring, and the Patriots are going to get the season sweep on Sunday in Foxborough. The Pats will win something like 41-24.
Take the jump to see my answers for Musket Fire!