Patriots-Bills matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Dec. 22, 2010 @ 2:50 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 16 game between the Patriots and Bills:

Bills WR Stevie Johnson vs. Patriots CB Devin McCourty

Johnson is about to conclude his breakout season with Buffalo. The third-year player has caught 72 passes for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, including a 3-66-1 day in Week Three against the Pats. His one touchdown catch came down the right sideline while being covered by McCourty.

McCourty has improved from that game to now, and is a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. He has six interceptions and 15 passes defensed, but he is still susceptible to getting beat — as illustrated when Packers WR James Jones beat him on a double-move for a 66-yard score last week.

The Bills' 30-point showing against the Patriots in Week Three highlighted some of the Patriots' defensive deficiencies. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 247 yards and will be looking to air it out on Sunday. Johnson tallied 6-69-1 receiving against a solid Dolphins defense last week and will be looking to attack McCourty.

The rookie corner has picked off passes while covering some of the league's top receivers, but he has been beaten on jump balls and some quick routes. If CB Kyle Arrington gets matched up on Johnson, expect Fitzpatrick to take advantage and target his top receiver. But McCourty and Johnson should be a good matchup of two young stars.