Patriots-Bills matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Sept. 21, 2011 @ 3:36 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

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

Patriots linebackers vs. Bills RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller

Believe it or not, the Bills bring the league's best rushing attack through two games into their matchup on Sunday against the Patriots. Fred Jackson is the league's leading rusher and C.J. Spiller broke off a couple nice runs in Week Two. The offensive line has been overachieving and creating big holes.

Both backs, with their elusiveness, are also weapons as receivers. We saw the Chargers' running backs combine for 15 catches for 135 yards, as the Patriots' defense was focused on shutting down TE Antonio Gates. Dolphins RB Reggie Bush led his team in receptions in the season opener vs. New England with nine.

The Bills will want to establish a running game to keep Tom Brady and company off the field. The Pats have a pretty good run defense, although it did allow Ryan Mathews to run at a clip of 5.3 yards per carry (12-64) last Sunday. When Ryan Fitzpatrick goes to the air, he will be attacking the flats and letting two of the team's top playmakers, Spiller and Jackson, do work in space.

Patriots LB Jerod Mayo anchors the Pats' run defense, along with DT Vince Wilfork up front. Mayo also will be asked to help cover if the Bills' backs enter the passing game. LB Brandon Spikes had a slow start to the season because of an injury, but he is a very good run stopper. Look for LBs Dane Fletcher and A.J. Edds to be called upon as coverage 'backers against the Bills' backs.

Also, keep an eye on Spiller (4-63 rushing vs. Oakland), who could help fill a void at receiver by lining up as one often, as the Bills need to score a lot of points on Sunday and will be looking for any kind of advantage. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Pats' 38-30 victory over the Bills in Week Three last season.