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Can Bills steal a victory from 'average' Patriots on opening day?

By Tim Graham

The New England Patriots probably won't have any household names catching Tom Brady's passes on opening day.

Does that mean the Buffalo Bills will catch a break?

NFL Network reporter Albert Breer explored how much the defending AFC East champs could struggle at the beginning of the season.

To recap a Press Coverage story in which Jim Kelly a couple weeks ago called the Patriots "vulnerable," 88 percent of New England's catches, 87 percent of its yards and 88 percent of its touchdowns are off the roster or hurt. Gone are Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead. Aaron Hernandez is awaiting a murder trial. Rob Gronkowski is recovering from another surgery.

"Three of the quarterback's four best weapons are gone, if you throw Lloyd in there," an unnamed NFC Personnel executive told Breer. "The run game is solid, but how much of that was because of how well they throw it? The defense is just OK. ...

"I think they're average, depending on when Gronk gets back. Teams are gonna be biting at the bit to play them early on." writer Gregg Rosenthal added to the storyline by illustrating how New England has a history of getting better as a season progresses.

Under Bill Belichick, New England has a .595 win percentage in September and a .836 win percentage in December and January.

When the Bills have had success against the Patriots, it has been early in the season.

They would have notched their first victory in Gillette Stadium on opening day 2009 had Leodis McKelvin not fumbled a late kick return.

The Bills ended a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots with a Week Three victory in 2011. The Bills' previous victory over the Patriots was on opening day 2003.


Rob Gronkowski | Tom Brady | Wes Welker
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |