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News Blitz 12/26: The Buffalo Bills will be no cake walk

Posted Dec 26, 2013

This edition of the Patriots News Blitz focuses on coach Bill Belichick's theory that less offseason practice time has led to more injuries across the NFL.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wrote an article on Christmas day on how beating the Buffalo Bills may be tougher than fans thinks.  Volin argues that Buffalo will be no cake-walk because their strength lies on both sides of the trenches.  He also points out that the Bills have remained remarkably healthy in 2013, other than the lingering knee injuries that have hindered rookie quarterback, E.J. Manuel.

"On defense, the Bills' top players have made it through the season.  They have one of the best pass-rushing lines in defensive end Mario Williams, and tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus," claims Volin, pointing out that the three have a combined 31 sacks on the season.  In addition to a strong pass rush, Buffalo also has a secondary that has forced 22 interceptions; that's good for second-most in the NFL.  The Bills have a very young, athletic team that has the ability to shock New England if Brady and the Patriots do not come prepared to play 60-minutes of good football.

As we near Sunday, Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston completed his weekly "stat check" comparing the Patriots to the Buffalo Bills in 7 separate categories.  Following their win against the Ravens, New England improved its league rankings in all seven categories - the biggest jump came in red zone offense.  After going a perfect 3-3 inside the 20s at M&T Bank Stadium, the Patriots jumped from 16th (55%) in the NFL to 6th (57%) in the red zone.

In another post previewing the Bills-Patriots matchup, Mike Reiss also updated the Patriots' penalty watch.  Despite having 10 penalties called against them in Baltimore, the Patriots remain tied for the second fewest accepted penalties in the NFL.  In the article, Reiss also mentioned that Ed Hochuli has been assigned as the referee for Sunday's game.

The Associated Press released an article that explains how Patriots coach, Bill Belichick blames the shortened offseason practice time for many of the injuries across the league this year.  Recently, teams seem to have suffered more injuries than in the past and Belichick believes that it's because the players are less prepared.

"I'm in favor of total preparation for the players for the season, and I think that's been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers," explains Belichick during a conference call with Buffalo reporters.  "We get a lot of situations that players just arent as prepared as they were in previous years, in my experience anyway."

Boston.com's Jeff Pini compiled a list of 2013's ten biggest victories in Boston sports.  The Patriots finished with three of its wins on the list including November 24th's stunning 24-point comeback against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.  Thrilling, last-second wins against the New Orleans Saints (October 13) and the Cleveland Browns (December 8th) also made the list.

In another list, the Patriots 2004 Super Bowl team finished as Boston's second best Championship team since 2000.  NESN's Nicholas Gross created an interactive countdown of the best Boston Championship teams.  The 2001 Patriots came in 8th place, while the 2003 team finished in 6th.  But it was the dominant 2004 Patriots who repeated as Champions that Gross believes is the best of the Franchise's Championship teams.

"The team finished 14-2, then beat a talent Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts team and a 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers club on the road to the Super Bowl," said Gross.  "A 24-21 win over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX cemented the Patriots as a dynasty with three titles in four years."

The only team to finish above the 2004 squad, was the 2004 Red Sox - Which is understandable considering it was the team's first Championship Title since Babe Ruth was traded to the New York Yankees, thus starting the 86-year Curse of the Bambino.