By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart guy. The Harvard Guy, remember? But it doesn't take an Ivy degree to know the Patriots will be Buffalo's toughest opponent in the season's first three weeks.
That fact doesn't diminish the Bills' 2-0 record, their 79 total points on offense, or their league-best 190.0 average rushing yards. This is just one of those dates on the schedule that gets circled in red every single year. And since 2003, the record shows a 15-0 advantage to New England.
So Fitzpatrick knows he and his teammates have to amplify the charging effort they've made to open things up.
"I think the Patriots, in general, always present a tough challenge for us," the quarterback said on a Wednesday conference call. "Obviously, the streak and the number of games we've played without beating them . . . They're tough. They're very physical up front. Obviously, they've got two of the bigger bodies, more effective guys in the league playing in the middle, fast in the linebacking corps. They play a lot of man coverage.
"Think that their corners do a good job," he continued. "I think they've given up a lot of yards, but the main reason why is because they've been ahead in games and teams have been forced to throw on every down. We really respect them here and I think they play good defense."
But respect and fear are two very different animals. Though Fitzpatrick is mindful of the force his blue collar Bills face, he likes the team's attitude. After Week 2's 38-35 win in Oakland he told Peter King that the naivete of the young and unsung players gives them a unique edge.
And he thinks it will stand up against the Patriots power-packed roster.
"We're a team full of guys that are looking to make a name for ourselves; we're looking to make a name for our team," Fitzpatrick said. "Although most of us are unheralded and nobody really knows us, we think that we're pretty good and we think that we've got a lot of talent on the roster.
"When I made the comment last week, it was basically that a lot of our guys are so young that they don't realize they're not supposed to go out and score 39.5 points or whatever it is that we're averaging. They feel like that's normal. So, for us, it's keeping that confidence and just keeping the swagger that we have right now and going out there and getting the job done."
This game will be considered a measuring stick. Do the Bills finally have what it takes for a winning season? Or will it be the same old Buffalo song? While a loss wouldn't be damning, a win would be exceptional.
Fitzpatrick considers the implications on a more local level. Turns out, it's a big deal every where he turns.
"We've got to be able to beat the teams in our division to get to where we need to be. And I think, you know, for us, this being our first division game, it takes on that much more importance to us just because it almost takes on extra significance being that, a win here gives you a win and gives a team in your division a loss. So it's extra significant for that reason."