BOSTON (CBS) – Football is back, with the New England Patriots getting their 2013 season starting on Sunday in Buffalo against the Bills.
The hopes are high entering the new campaign despite a tumultuous off-season and a whole new crop of receivers for Tom Brady. But before we can get ahead of ourselves, it all starts with the Week 1 matchup with the Bills.
Here is how the 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio 1030 sports teams see Sunday’s tilt playing out:
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The Patriots will win by 21 and this one will pretty much be over by the middle of the second quarter. I don’t think it’ll be competitive. It’s a different team, new coach, new team, element of surprise. I’m just going with the more stable team at this point this early in the season.
Patriots 34, Bills 13
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The Patriots win this game and there are a couple of factors here. Number 1: it’s the guys around Tom Brady, the young guys like Sudfeld and Thompkins. How do they react in their first NFL game? The absence of safety Jairus Byrd helps, because there’s no one to really patrol the middle of the field for that Buffalo defense. And there’s the fact that they lost Stephon Gilmore, arguably their best defensive player and starting corner.
All of that gives the Patriots a big advantage.
Patriots 28, Bills 17
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV
The Patriots are looking for their 10th straight opening day win, and they should get it on Sunday.
We’ll start with Tom Brady. In the preseason, he looked more accurate than ever. Sure, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez are gone, but Brady has new weapons. Look for Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld to step up big. Sudfeld could be your wildcard this season — not only is he athletic but he’s got great hands and runs with his head up. While a lot of tight ends go down after a catch, Sudfeld keeps going.
Let’s not forget the Patriots can run the ball too. Stevan Ridley is coming off a 1,000 yard season. Bill Belichick has never had a rusher with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, but Mr. Ridley wants to be the first. Add Shane Vereen and Legarrette Blount to the mix and the Patriots ground attack should tire the Bills out.
Tale Of The Tape: Breaking Down The Patriots-Bills Matchup
On defense, the secondary is still a question mark. When Aqib Talib went down at the end of the year, the Patriots could not stop the big play. Talib is back and Devin McCourty and Stephen Gregory plan to hold Buffalo in check.
What I want to see is a pass-rush in Buffalo. If Chandler Jones breaks free in this one, EJ Manuel is in for a long afternoon.
The Patriots start the season in Buffalo and end the regular season against Buffalo. For this Sunday, it should be all New England.
Patriots 31, Bills 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
Season openers are always scary. Coaches, players, and fans never know what to expect when it comes to Weeks 1 and 2 in the NFL. So my advice? Just sit back and watch.
However, the Pats have almost been a sure thing during the Bill Belichick era, having won nine straight season openers.
On offense, Tom Brady has new targets all over the place, but the sure-fire HOF QB will find them. The Pats also have Stevan Ridley who should pick up right where he left off last year.
The Pats defense is always at its best early and then late in a season. They should take advantage of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. The Bills lone chance? CJ Spiller.
Patriots 34, Bills 14
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
Sunday is not only the first game of the season, but the first game for both of these new-look teams. The Pats have 14 rookies on the roster and a whole new group of wide receivers. The Bills have a new coach, new QB, and if you listen to the team, a new outlook.
Here are the tipping points. There aren’t many new faces on the Patriots’ D, and that will benefit them when they try to confuse rookie play-caller EJ Manuel. Sure, Buffalo’s running game with CJ Spiller could be a problem, but the Pats will adjust and force the rookie QB to beat them. And that will not happen.
Then there’s the little detail that the Pats have #12. Tom Brady has seemed re-energized this pre-season as he put in his work with the young wide receivers. I think he feels he has more to prove than normal, and he’s going to want the Pats to start out fast.
The Patriots will keep their dominance over the Bills rolling to kick off 2013.
Patriots 34, Bills 10
Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
There are so many question marks in the first week of the NFL season and that is certainly the case for the Patriots as they prep for the Bills in Buffalo.
I think the inexperience shows on both sides of the ball on Sunday, but the Patriots still hold the trump card in #12.
Patriots 34, Bills 31
Tune in to Patriots-Bills Sunday at 1 p.m. on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pregame coverage begins on 98.5 FM at 10 a.m., and with Patriots GameDay at 11:30 a.m. on WBZ-TV. Stay tuned for full post game reaction and analysis following the game on the Sports Hub, and on Patriots 5th Quarter over on myTV38!