Patriots run 'D' faces challenge vs. Bills

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Patriots run 'D' faces challenge vs. Bills

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn FOXBORO It would be easy to dismiss the Buffalo Bills' early success as nothing more than an improved team getting a long overdue break from the football gods by having them open up against the putrid Kansas City Chiefs and the so-so Oakland Raiders.

But the Patriots, even with their dominance over the Bills in recent years (15 straight wins and counting), are in no position to take them for granted.

And while there are several facets of the game that will determine the outcome, it's hard to see anything being a bigger difference-maker than Buffalo's top-rated ground attack against a Patriots defensive line that was built in the offseason to control the line of scrimmage.

While New England has given up a ton of total yards (479 per game, actually) -- only one team (Miami Dolphins) have given up more yards per game than New England -- their defense against the run hasn't been too shabby with the Patriots being just one of 11 teams giving up less than 100 yards rushing per game.

New England's ability to stand pat against the Bills' attempts at stampeding them on Sunday, will go far in determining which of these two will remain among the undefeated.

"We have our hands full," said Patriots defensive tackle Vincent Wilfork. "It's going to be challenging for us once again. Every week so far, we've been challenged."

Buffalo's spread offense has shown the ability to hurt teams both on the ground and through the air.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a former standout at Harvard, is the NFL's sixth-rated passer thus far this season.

He shares the NFL-lead of seven touchdown passes, with New England's Tom Brady and Detroit's Matthew Stafford.

On the ground, Fred Jackson is the league's top rusher with 229 yards. And his power rushing attack is complimented by C.J. Spiller whose speed and quickness make him a potential matchup problem for New England as well.

The Patriots have done a solid job of rotating their defensive lineman, a trend you'll see continue on Sunday at Buffalo.

"We have guys that can get it done," said Pats defensive end Shaun Ellis. "We just have to become more consistent throughout the year."

And that comes with more playing time, which is critical for a defensive unit that features a number of new faces -- Ellis included.

"You have to get a feel for each guy, and where they're going to be . . . it's all getting a feel for it," said Ellis, who spent the previous 11 seasons with the New York Jets. "I kind of put it in mind like, a jump-shooter goes out and shoots a whole bunch of jumpers all day long; just get that feel so that when he gets in games, it just comes naturally."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Luck throws for 4 TDs, Colts rout Jets, 41-10

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Luck throws for 4 TDs, Colts rout Jets, 41-10

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Boys just want to have fun.

Andrew Luck certainly didn't have any when he sat out a Thanksgiving night loss with a concussion. He made up for it very nicely Monday night in a 41-10 romp past the inept New York Jets.

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