As Buffalo Bills fans, we're all hoping that our favorite team can beat the New England Patriots in Sunday's crucial AFC East division matchup. It would be nice, however, if the Bills didn't beat themselves for once.
Over the last two seasons, the Bills have turned the football over a ridiculous 15 times against the Patriots. That includes two games with two turnovers apiece, a third with four lost possessions, and a fourth with an almost unfathomable seven. The Bills themselves have forced just five in that same time frame - and hey, what do you know, four of them came in last year's 34-31 win over New England at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
You have to go all the way back to the 2006 season opener - that would be the Bills head coaching debut of Dick Jauron, for those keeping score - to find the last time the Bills played a game against the Patriots without committing a turnover. (They lost that game 19-17.) In fact, Jauron's Bills played the Pats eight times and committed 13 turnovers; it only took the Chan Gailey led Bills half of that time to eclipse that bad-in-its-own right) figure.
Every time we get into Patriots week, we as fans focus on the basics: slowing down [insert name of Patriots superstar]. For whatever reason, the fact that the Bills are generous in their aiding the quest for Pats wins has gone largely unnoticed. Perhaps that's due to the Bills playing slightly more competitive football against the Patriots under Gailey, and ending a 15-game losing streak last year. Whatever the reason, it shouldn't cloud the fact that the Bills are nearly as adept at beating themselves as the Patriots are.
The biggest culprit: quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is responsible for 13 of those 15 turnovers (11 interceptions and two lost fumbles) since 2010. That won't surprise anyone, of course, but Fitzpatrick, especially, has got to clean up his performance against the Bills' mightiest division rival.
It's tough to expect the Bills to pick off Brady four times per game (which is what they've done in their last two wins against New England). They dramatically improve their chances of winning if they don't spot Brady and the Pats multiple turnovers to begin with.