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Week 9: Bills vs. Patriots Preview New England Patriots
The game that has been circled on the schedules of both teams and their fans since late April is finally here. The first bi-annual "Bledsoe Bowl" is here as Drew Bledsoe takes on the team that traded him in the division. There is much more to this game than originally thought when the Bills traded for Bledsoe. The game is Bledsoe vs. Patriots QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichik but there is much more on the line than revenge. The Bills have won three in a row and a win coupled with a Miami loss on Monday night would do the unthinkable, move the Bills to first place in the AFC East. The defending champion Patriots meanwhile are floundering with four straight losses and are in third place in the division with a 3-4 record.

Facts and Figures
Matchup: New England (3-4) at Buffalo (5-3)
Date: Sunday November 3, 2002
Place: Ralph Wilson Stadium
Time: 1:00pm
Television: CBS
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, Armen Keteyian
Spread: Bills by 2
Series: Patriots leads 44-39-1
Last Meeting: Patriots 12-9 OT in Buffalo (2001)
Pats Offense: Rush (23th); Pass (3rd); overall (10th)
Pats Defense: Rush (29th); Pass (2nd); overall (7th)
Bills Offense: Rush (22nd); Pass (2nd); overall (2nd)
Bills Defense: Rush (25th); Pass (16th); overall (18th)

Injury Update

The Bills hope to have most, if not all their walking wounded back for this matchup. Antoine Winfield has been sidelines following arthroscopic knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. He is practicing this week and may be available but it is a longshot. Mike Williams has a better shot at playing after missing 2+ games with a significant hamstring strain. Last week Jonas Jennings, Nate Clements, and Keith Newman were all banged up, but are expected to be OK for the game. Newman and Clements aren't even on the injury report while Newman, Williams, and Winfield join Tony Driver as questionable.

The Patriots have five players listed as questionable including CB Otis Smith who has an arm injury. LB Larry Izzo, DE Anthony Pleasant, and TE Daniel Graham are also questionable.

For complete injury news throughout the week and the Official NFL Injury Report go to our Injury Page.

Key Matchups

CB Chris Watson vs. WR Troy Brown: Watson has played extremely well in replacing Antoine Winfield. If Winfield doesn't return than Watson will most likely be matched up against the very dangerous Brown. Even if Winfield does play, Watson will probably be lined up against Brown in the nickel defense.

RG Marques Sullivan vs. DT Richard Seymour: Seymour is a force in the middle of the defense for the Pats. If Sullivan struggles against him then Seymour will be disruptive to both the running game and the passing game.

QB Drew Bledsoe vs. HC Bill Belichik: It is really Bledsoe vs. the Pats defense but Nobody knows his tendencies like Belichik and the defense. Belichik is a master defensive mind and he will have some tricks up his sleeve to slow down Bledsoe.

RB Travis Henry vs. MLB Ted Bruschi: Bruschi will be responsible for keeping Henry at bay. Teams have been rolling over the Pats defense on the ground. If Henry has a big day, it will make Bledsoe's job easier, especially with all the pressure on him.

WR Peerless Price vs. CB Ty Law: Law is one of the best corners in the game and sometimes he will also be locked up against Eric Moulds. If the Bills can win some battles against Law then Bledsoe has a chance at a big day.

Game Plan

When The Bills Have The Ball: Bledsoe will want to do everything he could to get the offense coming, so expect the Bills to throw a lot and try to win it behind his arm. It will be strength against strength as the Bills will bring their high powered aerial attack against the Patriots stingy pass defense. If the weather and the game plan has the offense struggling early, look for them to then give a heavy dose of Henry against the very weak Pats run defense.

When The Patriots Have The Ball: New England has their own player with a chip on his shoulder and that is Antowain Smith. He has struggled this year but would love to break out against the Bills. If the weather is raw, look for the Pats to run Smith and change it up with Kevin Faulk. If that works it will open up play action passes for Brady.

Bills Daily Prediction

Bledsoe wants this game bad, and his teammates will rally around him and try to bring their A game to help bring the victory to their leader. The problem is the Patriots also want to win this game for their coach and quarterback and they have won thing on their side, desperation. A loss drops them dangerously close to being out of the playoff picture altogether and that is the reason why I am picking the Patriots to win a hard fought emotionally battle. Belichik for all his faults is a master game planner and will make it hard for Bledsoe, despite the best attempts by Bledsoe, his mates, and the 12th man. Weather may also be a factor in keeping the score down: Patriots 17, Bills 14

Season Prediction Record: (7-1)
Season Record Against The Spread: (6-2)

Complete Statistical Matchup
Game Analysis and Review - Coming Monday Night!
Positional Breakdown and Grades - Coming Monday Night!
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