The Patriots may be favored by 9.5 points over a Bills outfit that managed just six wins a season ago, but quarterback Tom Brady has been around long enough to know he shouldn't take anything for granted.
"It's a very good defense," Brady said Thursday. "It's a challenging scheme because they use their players very well. I think they have very multidimensional-type players. Similar to what we do on offense. We use everybody, they use everybody. Everybody has a role in their defense. Whatever they feel like is working, they stick with. But from game to game, it's always been different. We've got a lot of information on the team based on what they've done in the past. So you really aren't quite sure what they're going to do."
The Bills are under first-year coach Doug Marrone, who hired Mike Pettine, formerly of the Jets, as his defensive coordinator. And Pettine is going to have to concoct quite the game plan to slow Brady, even if the Pats QB will be without his top five pass catchers from a season ago.
But as the old saying goes, "Any given Sunday." Almost 10 years ago to the day, the Pats faced the Bills and were blown out of the water, 31-0. Brady had four interceptions, Drew Bledsoe was under center for Buffalo, and New England looked like the worst team in the league. Of course, five months later, the Pats beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl and a dynasty was born.
A decade later, Brady knows that the Bills will again be looking to make a Week 1 impact, which means everything is on the table when it comes to strategizing.
"A lot of the focus for the last four days has been just that," Brady said. "Trying to really try to put together a game plan. We've had three good days of practice and we've got to follow it up with two more."
And as for that infamous '03 season-opening shutout? The Pats are 18-1 against the Bills since, and according to Cold, Hard, Football Facts, have outscored Buffalo by an average of 31.8 to 14.6 in those games. In Ralph Wilson Stadium the results are even more lopsided: 33.0 to 12.8.
So history, along with the fact that the Bills are starting a rookie quarterback in EJ Manuel, it's reasonable to assume that not only will the Pats win, they'll win big.