|Is this the week the Bills snap their 0-15 losing streak to the Pats? (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Most reasonable people would agree that Tom Brady is the most important player on the Patriots roster. But despite the mythologizing, he can't beat you by himself. It hasn't come to that just yet for New England, but when the Pats face the Bills Sunday, they'll do so without many of their key players.
Second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez is out with a sprained MCL, and he'll be joined on the sidelines by strong safety Patrick Chung (thumb), defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (back), wide receiver Taylor Price (hamstring), right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back), and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion).
New England signed safety Ross Ventrone from the practice squad to replace Chung, and Price's absence could mean that this is the week that Chad Ochocinco finally gets on track (he has just three catches in two games). But it appears that against the Bills the team will go with just one healthy tight end: Rob Gronkowski.
While Brady has proven that he can win without big-play wide receivers (look no further than the 2006 season when the Pats' No. 1 wide receiver was Reche Caldwell), New England's already-shaky defense could be in trouble against the suddenly potent Bills offense.
Patriots.com breaks down the concerns about the secondary:
With Chung out, the Patriots are dangerously thin and inexperienced at safety. Josh Barrett has started the first two games of the season – his first two games in a Patriots uniform. Sergio Brown has also gotten playing time in the first two weeks, in just his second season since joining the team as an undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame off the practice squad midway through last year. James Ihedigbo also has seen some run in the early going. Ross Ventrone was promoted from the practice squad this weekend. But none of the mix could be considered a known commodity or proven playmaker. Barrett seems to have the most potential of the group, but let’s not forget he’s already playing with a cast on his right hand, while Ihedigbo is more experience on special teams than defense in his career.The Bills, who Vegas pegged as 8.5-point home underdogs earlier in the week, might have their best chance in years to beat the Patriots. It certainly helps that some of New England's best players will be in their civvies at kickoff. That said, history favors Brady and Belichick. In the last 15 matchups between the two teams, New England is 15-0.
The New England Patriots are prepared to take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Who will come out on top? NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz go inside the numbers to preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 1 PM ET.
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