We check in with the great Sal Maiorana of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle to find out what has happened to the Bills since they upset the Patriots in Week 3. Sal, who is awesome on Twitter, claims to have written 17 books. I don't know if I've read 17 books.
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1. What has happened to Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Maiorana: "To be perfectly honest, not much. This is exactly who Fitzpatrick has been his whole career – he’s a mediocre talent, a career backup who just happens to be the best guy available for the Bills right now. He’s always been streaky, and when he’s hot, he can lead a team to victory; when he’s not he makes big mistakes, is inaccurate, and really needs a lot of help around him to lead a team to a victory."
2. Who is the one Bills player most Patriots fans don't know right now, but will by the end of the game on Sunday?
Maiorana: "Funny, but there’s a lot of players who fit into this category because no one knows much of anything about the talent-deficient Bills. But one player who has played pretty well all year and has flown under the radar is FS Jairus Byrd. He picked off a Tim Tebow pass last week and returned it for a touchdown."
3. What would you say is the one thing about the Bills offense that teams have trouble with?
Maiorana: "For whatever reason, and no one has been able to figure it out, the Bills offensive line has played really well this season. They are a bunch of no-names – especially now that center Eric Wood is out for the year – who have protected Fitzpatrick (they rank tied for first in fewest sacks at 21) and have opened holes for the running backs. And they have done it despite eight different guys starting, and using eight starting combinations."
4. Where do you think the Patriots will try to exploit the Bills' offense?
Maiorana: "If you bottle up Buffalo’s running game, which right now consists only of C.J. Spiller, then you force Fitzpatrick into a one-dimensional passing mode. Given his erratic nature, and the below-average receiving corps he has to work with, this usually creates lots of problems for the Bills."
5. What would you say is the one thing about the Bills defense that teams have trouble with?
Maiorana: "The Bills have been awful on defense for most of the season. They rank near the bottom of the league in sacks (they have 24, and 10 came in one aberration of a game against Washington), and they still struggle to stop the run. But they have been able to force turnovers with 30 in all, including 20 interceptions, four of which came against Tom Brady in the first game. Turnovers have come in bunches for them, and when they get them, they’ve been successful."
6. Where do you think the Bills will try to exploit the Patriots' defense?
Maiorana: "Ideally the Bills want to run the ball, if for no other reason than to keep Brady and that New England offense off the field as much as possible. However, Spiller isn’t quite ready to carry the load the way Fred Jackson was, so they likely won’t be able to grind it out."
7. Finally, the perfect script for a Bills win on Sunday is ...
Maiorana: "Really, the only way the Bills win this game is if New England sits down Brady and some of the regulars, but that seems unlikely. Beyond that, what happened in the first game would have to happen again where the Patriots basically beat themselves with turnovers. The Bills are injury-depleted and they just can’t keep pace with the Patriots offense if it’s clicking."
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