After 13 plus years of mostly horrible football teams, the 2013 Buffalo Bills have continued to give fans hope for the future. This team features one of the NFL’s premier rushing attacks, a playmaking defense, and a notoriously competitive team to play against. They are on the fringe of the AFC playoff race sitting at 3-4. Despite facing great adversity from injuries, it has been difficult to judge just how good the Bills actually are when competing against a Super Bowl contender, in an incredibly hostile environment. The Saints will prove to be a prime measuring stick for the Bills. Finally, Marrone is returning to the Big Easy, will it be a triumphant one?
What It Means
The Bills are coming off a huge victory in Miami, improving their record to 3-4 and 1-2 in the AFC East. This will be a great game to determine just how good the Bills are, but must be taken with a grain of salt with their two best offensive players (Manuel and Spiller) being out. By moving to .500, the Bills could ride a major momentum swing coming home to play the Chiefs, possibly spring-boarding a late playoff push.
For the Saints, playing any game at home is an automatic leg up, especially when going against a team as young as the Bills. However, they should not take the Bills for granted, as they have played competitively all season against some solid teams. Sitting among the top of a very competitive NFC, it is imperative for the Saints to win all winnable games to clinch home field advantage.
Matchups to Watch
Mario Williams vs. Zach Strief
Mario Williams is currently sitting at second in the NFL with 10 sacks, and played a large role at the end of last game to put it away. The way Williams is playing, it is very possible that Strief may not be able to handle him by himself. The Saints will need to do something to slow Williams down because Brees is a pocket passer, and if the Bills can put pressure on him, it will force quick passes and relieve the secondary. Turnovers have been the Bills specialty this season, but against Brees, the Bills will have to get pressure otherwise there will be no interceptions thrown. Brees is simply too good.
Cordy Glenn vs. Cameron Jordan
Cordy Glenn has had a good season thus far, but this will be one of the tougher matchups he will face going against Jordan. Jordan’s game is a power rush style, and he has been able to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If he can continue this, the Bills rushing attack could be stunted, forcing Lewis to drop back and pass.
Kiko Alonso/Da’Norris Searcy vs. Darren Sproles
Sproles is an absolute handful for anyone to deal with, and has consistently proven to hurt opposing offenses. If the Bills hope to slow down the Saints high-powered offensive attack, then they must be able to stop Sproles.
The Bills Will Win If…
They can keep Brees off the field. The Bills will be going against a similar defense they struggled with against the Jets as Rob Ryan has turned the Saints around. It will be difficult, but if the Bills can establish a solid ground game, then controlling the ball should be a little easier. Similarly, the Bills have to get pressure on Brees. They will most likely only rush 4 and drop everyone else into coverage, but if Brees has time to survey the field, he will pick the secondary apart.
The Saints Will Win If…
They can stifle the Bills rush attack. If they can do this, then Lewis will be forced to drop back and pass, and I’m not sure that’s something Marrone wants. Secondly, the Saints must protect Brees and slow the Bills explosive front four somehow. The Bills have recorded 23 sacks on the season. Protecting Brees and the ball is essential if they are to win this game.
The Bills have shown lots of heart and hope for the future, and they have played competitively in all games, but I don’t feel like they can slow the Saints in the Superdome. New Orleans is an especially difficult to play football, especially when you are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. I do believe that the Bills will put up at least 20, but Brees will find a way to exploit the Bills secondary.
Saints Win 35-20.