The New England Patriots own the Buffalo Bills, as Eric was kind enough to remind us of this morning. Winners of 17 of the last 18 meetings against Buffalo, the Patriots have looked rather human this season, as they're currently the lowest-ranked AFC divisional leader, record-wise, sitting at 8-5.
Buffalo hosts New England at Ralph Wilson Stadium this Sunday in the midst of a 12-game losing against the Patriots. While Bill Belichick and company fight to secure an AFC East divisional crown much later than anyone thought they'd acquire it, the 5-8 Bills are on the verge of yet another re-building effort. But upset wins happen; I believe the phrase "Any given Sunday" is quite popular.
Can the Bills pull off an incredibly unlikely and cathartic upset victory this weekend? Here are five reasons that it's more possible than it ever has been.
New England's road woes. The Patriots are undefeated (7-0) at Gillette Stadium this season, but they're only 1-5 when traveling to other stadiums. By comparison, the Bills are 3-4 on the road this year. In addition, that one victory came in London, on a neutral field, over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why New England has struggled so much on the road this season, but the undeniable fact is that they have.
Masochistic voice of reason: Buffalo isn't exactly great at home. They're 2-3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium this season, and have a 2-7 record at home since starting the 2008 season with three straight home wins.
Tom Brady might be human. Dealing with various injuries and an offensive line playing far below New England standards, Brady has struggled of late. In his last four games, he's completing a solid 63% of his passes (87 of 138), and his yardage total is still impressive in that time span (1,091 yards and 7.9 yards per attempt). But his 4-5 TD-INT ratio is hardly inspiring, and his team is only 2-2 in those games. His quarterback rating over the last month is a very average 82.1.
Masochistic voice of reason: In the same time frame, Ryan Fitzpatrick's quarterback rating is a full 9 points lower, thanks highly to borderline great numbers in Jacksonville and against Miami.
No longer kings of the East. In two straight seasons, New England has lost two divisional games. Last season, nobody was surprised about that, because Brady missed the year with a shredded knee. But the Pats have already dropped two divisional games this season - you guessed it, both on the road, to New York and Miami.
Masochistic voice of reason: New England has not lost three games against AFC East opponents since 2000, when that 5-11 Patriots outfit was captained and commanded by Drew Bledsoe.
If Cleveland can do it, why can't we? Cleveland shocked the football world last Thursday night when they defeated their arch nemesis, Pittsburgh, by a 13-6 count at home. This was a one-win football team (we won't get into who their one win was against) defeating their most bitter of rivals - a rival that has completely dominated them for the past decade and caused their franchise a lot of heartache. Sounds familiar.
Masochistic voice of reason: Pittsburgh entered that game in Cleveland on a four-game slide that included losses to Kansas City and Oakland. That gave them three losses to sub-.500 teams on the season entering that contest. New England has yet to lose to a sub-.500 team this season.
Karma owes us. Buffalo nearly got their cathartic release in Week 1, when, against enormous odds, they came within two minutes of shocking New England on their own field on Monday Night Football. Alas, Leodis McKelvin fumbled a kick return, the Patriots scored 12 points in the waning moments of the game, and they escaped with a 25-24 victory. Imagine for a moment how that victory would have lifted Buffalo. Dick Jauron might still have a job, Trent Edwards might rank higher than that lion from the Wizard of Oz in the courage department, and we might be talking about a potential playoff berth. Karma owes us. Karma should make the freaking Patriots fumble away a victory against Buffalo for once.
Masochistic voice of reason: Karma has owed, and wholly ignored, the Buffalo Bills since 2004.