ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — As the Patriots look to get back to .500, they’ll be doing so without their All-Pro left guard Logan Mankins. Who fills his role should determine how well the team holds up against a Buffalo defensive line that has accumulated nine sacks this season.
Donald Thomas, who started for the Patriots in Week 2, struggled at right guard against the Arizona Cardinals. He’ll like find his way into today’s rotation, with possibly Dan Connolly shifting over to left guard. Connolly substituted for Mankins in 2010 during Mankins’ holdout.
A big concern for the Patriots is the Bills’ running game, currently ranked third in the NFL. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are both questionable for today’s game, with Jackson expected to play. Tashard Choice, who filled in for both last week, had 91 yards on 21 carries in a the Bills’ 24-14 win over the Cleveland Browns. Spiller is fourth in the NFL with 308 rushing yards.
And while the running game will of course be on the Patriots’ minds, the Patriots secondary has its own issues after allowing 382 yards passing against the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is no Flacco, but he has the ability to light up anybody, throwing for 369 and 307 yards against the Patriots last season.
Also of note:
– With a win, Bill Belichick would move out of a tie with Chuck Knox for the eighth-most wins all-time (194).
– If Tom Brady throws one touchdown pass, he’ll tie Brett Favre for third most touchdown passes thrown in consecutive games (36). He also needs just 12 completions to pass Kerry Collins for 10th place all-time in the NFL and 57 yards passing to pass Collins for 11th all-time in yards thrown.
– Wes Welker needs just 11 receiving yards to pass Troy Brown (6,366) for second place all-time in Patriots history. Stanley Morgan is first with 10,352 yards.