Three and out: three reasons why the Bills can win, and three reasons why the Pats can win Sunday.

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Why the Bills can win:

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1. Buffalo’s running game is very good. Yes, C.J. Spiller (308 yards, 9.3 yards per carry) probably won’t play with his shoulder injury. Yes, Fred Jackson will only be about 75% due to a week one knee injury. What powers the Buffalo running game is their offensive line, anchored by center Eric Wood and complimented with LT Cordy Glenn, LG Andy Levitre, RG Kraig Urbik and RT Erik Pears. Even third string journeyman Tashard Choice (99 yards from scrimmage last week) can be productive with this unit opening up running lanes.

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2. Buffalo can apply pressure on Tom Brady with just four pass rushers, without having to sacrice coverage by blitzing. Defensive Ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson on the outside and defensive tackles Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams on the inside may be too much for this 2012 Pats offensive line to contend with – even more so if left guard Logan Mankins (hip) is out or less than 100% Sunday.

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3. Stevie Johnson can exploit the Pats secondary the same way Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones did last week. Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington have been susceptible to big plays, and haven’t been getting enough help from the safety position on a consistent basis. The front seven needs to get better pressure on the quarterback and not force the defensive backs to cover opposing pass receivers for so long.

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Why the Patriots can win:

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1. The Bills cannot cover the Pats receivers. LB Bryan Scott covering TE Rob Gronkowski is a mismatch that strongly favors the Pats, as is WR Wes Welker versus CB Justin Rogers. CB Stephon Gilmore is a work in progress that WR Brandon Lloyd should be able to take advantage of – often. CB Aaron Williams is okay but even if he manages to cover one receiver others will be open.

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2. Buffalo’s offense is inconsistent, especially without C.J. Spiller. The Kansas City Chiefs – who are not a very good team – forced the Bills to go three and out six times two weeks ago. Overall the Bills have gone three and out 14 times in three games. Combine that with the Pats no huddle, and their defense is going to be gassed quickly. The team is built to run the ball; if they get into a shootout how long before Ryan Fitzpatrick throws some critical picks?

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3. The Patriots are better than their record indicates and are highly motivated; the Bills don’t have a history of handling success well and have not faced an offense like this one. New England could very easily be 3-0 right now and has faced two of the best teams in the NFL, Baltimore and Arizona. Buffalo was crushed by a mediocre Jets team and beaten two of this year’s worst teams, the Chiefs and Browns.

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Keep an eye on special teams play. The Bills released punter Brian Moorman and have replaced him with Shawn Powell. Moorman was also Buffalo’s holder, so timing on field goal and extra point attempts could be an issue. Punter Zoltan Mesko has done a good job of preventing opponents a chance to return any of his kicks. Look for more of the same in exchange for a few extra yards, because Buffalo punt returner Leodis McKelvin is averaging 29.7 yards per punt return.

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Connections: Rob Gronkowski grew up 14 miles from Buffalo … DE Trevor Scott went to the University of Buffalo … the Bills roster includes two former Patriots: DE Mark Anderson and TE Lee Smith … Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard … Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Adrian White played DB for the Patriots in 1993 … Assistant Offensive Line Coach Andrew Dees served as the Recruiting Coordinator and Running Backs Coach at UMass last year … Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Eric Ciano went to Springfield College … Wide Receivers Coach Bob Bicknell is a native of Holliston MA and played tight end at BC; he later coached at BU. His father Jack Bicknell was a long time coach at BC.

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Injuries: WR Julian Edelman (hand) and TE Aaron Hernandez are out; DE Brandon Deaderick and LG Logan Mankins did not practice and are questionable; CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), DT Justin Francis (ankle), TE Rob Gronkowski (hip), DT Kyle Love (knee), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), RB Shane Vereen (foot) and RT Sebastian Vollmer were all limited in practice and listed as questionable. Notably absent from this week’s injury report is TE Daniel Fells.

For the Bills backup WR Martin Ruvell (ankle) did not practice and has been ruled out. Running backs Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder) were both limited in practice and listed as questionable; I get the feeling that Jackson will play but Spiller probably won’t. CB Leodis McKelvin, who also returns punts, was a full practice participant but was added to the injury report with a groin injury; he is listed as probable.

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Who: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

When: Sunday September 30 at 1:00

Where: at The Ralph, Orchard Park, NY

TV: On many CBS stations, and DirecTV channel 708

Radio: Patriots Radio Network and Sirius XM channel 818

Vegas: Pats opened as 3.5 point favorites; now up to 4 points

Over/Under: Opened at 50.5; was up to 52 but now back to 50.5

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Prediction: the Patriots find a way to win a close, tough game, 27-24.

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♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯

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September 29, 1948:
Mark Farner was born. Grand Funk Railroad was one of the most successful rock bands of the 70′s, selling over 20 million albums. Coincidentally on this same day in 1973 the band went to number one on the singles chart with We’re An American Band.

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Follow on Twitter @AllThingsPats….

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