The Buffalo Bills will travel to New Orleans for their second of two back to back road games with a match-up on Sunday. This game will mark the tenth regular season meeting between Buffalo and New Orleans with the Saints holding a 5-4 advantage in the regular season series vs. the Bills. With a win over New Orleans on Sunday, Buffalo will snap a three game losing streak against the Saints and win back to back road games for the first time since 2009.
Keys to wining this match-up for the Buffalo Bills is Defense:
Mike Pettine style of hybrid defense can be described as fast, aggressive, ruthless and relentless. The Bills lead the NFL in team interceptions with 12 through seven weeks and must continue on that path against the Saints. With 23 total sacks through the first seven games this season the Bills defense is tied for 4th in the NFL, it is also tied for second most in team history though game seven since 1982 (When sacks became an official statistic). The Bills defense has also forced 50 of their opponent plays to result in negative yardage (219 yds lost) – the sixth most such plays on the season.
The Saints have converted an NFL best 47.4% of their 3rd down conversions since 2006. This means that Mario Williams will need to be isolated to one on one tackles and with arguably the best defensive tackle duo in Kyle Williams and Marcell Darius, this shouldn’t be hard to accomplish. The only issue with this stout front seven will be the susceptibility to the screen and draw plays the Saints will bring. The aggressiveness of Pettine’s defensive scheme will undoubtedly give Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas a lot of room to play with and it could ultimately be the more than the Buffalo Bills can handle. The key here is to limit the big plays of the Saints running backs and shut down the passing game with extreme pressure.
The Bills secondary is full of speed CB Stephen Gilmore and safety Jairus Byrd will need to bring their best game as Drew Brees likes to air it out to open the run game. Tackling will have to be swift and quick as the Saints are second in the NFL with yards after catch. Jairus Byrd will need to be careful, and as the turn over machine that he is he will need to hold himself back a bit from trying to intercept every ball thrown his way as Brees is one of the most accurate passers in the league.
For the Bills to take a win home they will have to keep the game close much like they did against Miami. They will be facing and even better defense than last week so mistakes on the offensive side of the ball will have to be minimized as New Orleans will take full advantage of any opportunity thrown its way. Both defensive coordinators come from the Rex Ryan School of Defense and are very similar in their approaches. The defensive battle winner will come down to who took the best notes in class.
Offensively look for both CJ Spiller and Daren Sprolles to have big games as both defenses are weak in screen coverage. The Bills running game has generated an AFC best 140.4 yards per game (Fifth in the NFL) through week 7 and will continue to add to it this week. Stevie Johnson hauled in a team-best six catches for 61 yards on Sunday against Miami and he will have to match that this Sunday or better to keep the game close and allow CJ Spiller to take the offense into the red zone. Once in the red zone the Bills are 2nd in scoring efficiency for 2013 with 20 red zone drives 9 TD’s and 10 FG’s.
By Sergio Peralta