Line: Patriots – 11
Tom Brady is back as the Patriots’ starting quarterback after missing all of 2008, creating very high expectations for the 2009 season. At betrepublic, New England is the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Bet Republic does not have the Patriots as their Super Bowl pick, but we fully understand why many have chosen them as their pick to win it all.
Pats’ head coach Bill Belichick has reloaded on both sides of the ball. The defense has lost six starters from last year including Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison, Ellis Hobbs, Mike Vrable and most recently Richard Seymour. The defense is younger and faster but lacks experience and leadership.
New England’s offense has all the pieces in place to dominate every game they play this coming season. The offense that terrorized the league in 2007 has most of its players back including the deadly wide receiving tandem of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Belichick has added savvy veterans RB Fred Taylor, WR Joey Galloway and TE Chris Baker to the team giving the Patriots more firepower and versatility. The biggest question will be how to distribute the ball to everyone so that everyone feels involved.
The chief offensive concern will be whether Tom Brady and his surgically repaired knee can hold up all season. Defensive Coordinators will be looking to rush Brady as much as possible to test his mobility. If the offensive line gives Brady the time he needs then the numbers could be ridiculous.
The Bills have the makings of a solid defense and pass rushers Aaron Schobel and rookie Aaron Maybin will need to apply pressure off the edge to try to disrupt Brady’s timing. DT Marcus Stroud played well in his first year with the Bills and demands a double-team much of the time. Linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Paul Posluszny are very active and sure tacklers. The secondary is young but very skilled featuring cornerback Leodis McKelvin and safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson. Buffalo’s defense will need to play mistake free and aggressive to keep its offense in the game.
The Bills’ offense fell off the tracks last season after QB Trent Edwards was concussed in game five against the Cardinals. He wasn’t as sharp as he was in the first four games and looked tentative which led to a lot of indecision and poor execution. The lack of offense down the stretch forced the Bills to make one of the more daring offseason moves acquiring controversial wideout Terrell Owens.
Everyone knows what Owens can bring to the Bills on the field but it’s the off-field antics that are the concern. So far he has been a model of diplomacy but if the Bills falter all eyes will be watching for an Owens meltdown. His addition should give number one WR Lee Evans less double-teams, which should result in a career year for Evans. The two didn’t get on the field together in preseason so it’s hard to gauge how productive they will be as a receiving tandem.
Starting running back, Marshawn Lynch is suspended by the league for the first three games meaning that Fred Jackson will start in his place. Jackson ran for 136 yards on 26 carries in the second game against New England last season so he should feel comfortable going up against the Pats defense.
The Bills fired their Offensive Coordinator last week so it will be interesting to see how in-sync this unit will perform. The offensive line is the biggest question mark on the team and could be in for a long night.
New England’s defense is led upfront by NT Vince Wilfork who commands a double team giving New England’s new look group of linebackers opportunities to make plays. Last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Jerod Mayo is the new face of the defense and is a hitting machine. The Bills will look to exploit the young defense and Lee Evans could have a big night.
We think the Patriots start with a convincing win.