Bills vs. Patriots: Keys to Victory for Both Clubs in Divisional Matchup

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York.New England won 52-28.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Believe it or not, the Buffalo Bills (3-5) could beat the New England Patriots (5-3) on Sunday in their final regular season meeting.

It's not probable, considering the results of their last meeting—New England's 52-28 Week 4 victory in Buffalo—but it's possible.

For the Bills, a win in Foxboro would bring them within a game of first place in the AFC East, while the Patriots are looking to put more separation between themselves and the rest of the division.

Let's take a look at the key for each team walking off of the field victorious on Sunday afternoon.


Buffalo: Establish the Run Game Early

It's easier said than done against a Patriots defense that ranks seventh in the NFL against the run, allowing only 88.6 yards per game on the ground to the opposition, but the backfield is where Buffalo's two most explosive players reside—Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Buffalo ran the ball only 16 times in their Week 9 loss to the Houston Texans, and while the Patriots run defense is strong, Buffalo needs to establish the run for a multitude of reasons.

Running the ball is what Buffalo does best, averaging 5.3 yards per carry on the season. Getting the ball into the hands of Jackson and Spiller as often as possible not only gives Buffalo a greater chance to gain positive yardage, but it should help Buffalo's passing game as well.

Forcing the Patriots' weak secondary to cheat up near the line of scrimmage would allow QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to take more shots down the field, hopefully repeating the four touchdowns but avoiding the four interceptions he tossed when last these two teams met.

More importantly, while the Bills have a solid secondary, they cannot stop Tom Brady, so their best defense against him is simply to keep him on the sidelines.

A solid, constant running game will allow Buffalo to not only control the tempo of the game, but to control the clock as well. The less time Brady spends on the field, the better Buffalo's chances of pulling off the upset are.


New England: Attack Buffalo's Secondary

It might be the strongest part of their defense, but Tom Brady isn't an ordinary quarterback, and he's had extraordinary success against the Bills.

The future Hall of Famer has thrown more touchdowns (49) against Buffalo than any other team he's faced to go along with more than 5,100 yards passing and a completion percentage over 65 percent.

Buffalo's defense figures to be aggressive trying to get after Brady and disrupt what he's trying to do, making his ability to get rid of the ball quickly a major factor, especially against a defense that has a respectable 19 sacks on the season.


Prediction: New England 34, Buffalo 21

New England is simply too talented in all areas, especially offensively, for the Bills to handle, and while both quarterbacks will have solid afternoons, it will be Buffalo's inability to run the ball consistently that winds up being the major factor.