- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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My initial reaction was this was a very tough draw for Buffalo.
“I thought it was cruel of the NFL to give Buffalo rookie head coach Doug Marrone his first assignment against the New England Patriots in his first game,” I wrote upon the schedule release. “Marrone was hired from Syracuse and now has to match coaching strategies against Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. It is a chance for Marrone to make a huge statement in his NFL debut. But there is also the likelihood that the Marrone era could get off to a losing start in Week 1.”
However, things can change quickly in the NFL. And after recent events involving the Patriots the past several weeks, I’m starting to change my tune.
The Bills could actually be catching the Patriots at the right time on Sept. 8 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. New England will be at its weakest point in Week 1, which leads to the possibility of an upset.
New England will be without at least one of its top tight ends. The Patriots released Aaron Hernandez after he was charged with murder and five additional gun charges. Rob Gronkowski recently had back and arm surgery and is questionable for Week 1. The Patriots also have a host of new receivers that will take time getting on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady.
The Patriots remain preseason favorites to win the AFC East. Buffalo will meet New England in Week 1 and Week 17 this season. Considering all the current distractions, the Patriots will be much easier for Buffalo to beat on Sept. 8 than on Dec. 29.