We spent a solid six days last week discussing tonight's Buffalo Bills/New England Patriots Monday Night Football showdown with Pats Pulpit. I believe I can speak for both MaPatsFan and myself when I say that I'm infinitely glad that the pre-game coverage is nearly over.
Y'all know what this game is for the Bills: a tremendous challenge and a very difficult victory to earn. It's also going to be a measuring stick; after tonight's game, we'll know exactly where we stand when comparing our team to the NFL's elite.
It's final prediction time. After the jump, you'll find game predictions from both MaPatsFan and myself. We'd love to hear yours as well, so let 'em rip in the comments section.
Pats Pulpit prediction, from MaPatsFan
Frankly, with the personnel changes on the Patriots and few Tom Brady reps to go on, it's a bit crazy trying to make solid predictions - but that doesn't stop ESPN. There's a few reasons why New England will keep its winning streak against Buffalo intact:
a) This is the return of Brady, in a home game opener on Monday Night Football;
b) The Patriots will announce their All-Time Team at halftime, which includes recently retired LB Tedy Bruschi named as Honorary Defensive Captain;
c) The Patriots are undefeated at Gillette Stadium against the Bills.
None of these are football reasons for winning the game. They have nothing to do with X's and O's. But all I have to go on is the emotional incentives for the Patriots and their fans. Prediction: 28-21, Patriots.
My own prediction:
Most NFL fans are making backup plans for tonight's game in the event that it turns into an early blowout. (The Jay Leno Show premieres on NBC tonight, but its 10PM time slot doesn't help potentially bored football fans much, does it?)
I am as relentlessly optimistic as Bills fans come. Considering the fact that New England's defense is in transition, the fact that nobody really knows what to expect from the Bills on either side of the ball, and the fact that the Bills will always have a chance to put up points so long as the offensive line is even average, they have the capability to hang with the Pats tonight. But as you accurately point out, MaPatsFan, there's just no way - no way - that the Pats outright lose this one. Not in Tom Brady's return; not at Gillette; not in the season opener in front of a national audience. I'm not big on moral victories, but if the Bills can keep this one entertaining, even if only for a while, I'll be somewhat satisfied.
Final Prediction: Patriots 34, Bills 16