Match-Up Mania: Patriots Defense vs. E.J. Manuel

Vince Wilfork and Bill Belichick.

Vince Wilfork and Bill Belichick.

Is the offensive display put on by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos an indication that teams will be passing and running up and down the field at will in 2013? Of course not as one game is no trend. However, teams like the Patriots and Bills must be able to match-up with Denver’s arsenal so each team must answer lingering questions about their offenses in tomorrow’s game.

The primary match-up should be the Patriots defense against Buffalo’s new look offense with rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. Bill Belichick’s track record versus rookie QBs – 17-4 as HC of the NEP – is well known. Don’t forget that 23-3 mark against Buffalo in the past 26 games. Manuel also missed valuable practice time with a knee injury.

Belichick will surely want his defense to put pressure on Manuel to make mistakes. The more that Buffalo’s success depends on Manuel making plays in his NFL debut, the more theBrandon Spikes described it this way:

He’s in the NFL, so I’m sure he’s an elite athlete…we’ll take the same approach as any other quarterback. We’ll try to get after him.

Look for the Patriots to try and establish a consistent pass rush. Chandler Jones needs to get to the QB for the Patriots to thrive. Pressure needs to come from Vince Wilfork and newcomer Tommy Kelly from the inside, too, not to mention the really reliable Rob Ninkovich.

Wilfork says they need to be ready for the Bills new offense.

We’re going to have be on our game, our ‘A’ game, to slow this team down…Everything we’ve seen so far with these guys, they’ve been playing some real good football, up-tempo, run inside and outside. It’s going to be a challenge, it’s a division opponent. Trust me, our hands are full. I’m pretty sure they’re going to give us everything we can handle.

The Patriots secondary has questions to answer, too.

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