Week 8 Primer: Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints
Bills vs. Saints: Week 8 Primer
The Buffalo Bills head to the Superdome for the first time in 15 years on Sunday to take on the New Orleans Saints. The Bills are riding high after a last-minute road win against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday. On the flip side, the Saints are still stewing over their last-second loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots two weeks ago. They've had an extra week off to prepare for the Bills as they try and get back on the winning track after their first loss of the season.
It's vital that Bills QB Thad Lewis has his best game yet on Sunday. He won't need to match Drew Brees throw for throw, but he's got to be better than he's been. If the Bills have any chance at beating the Saints, it will be by not making mistakes and forcing the Saints to make some of their own. Obviously Brees is a very efficient QB, so the Bills will have to put a lot of pressure on him to force bad throws. The key to beat Brees is not letting him get too comfortable in the pocket especially at home; if he gets going, it is very, very hard to slow him down.
As far as the rushing game goes, it's a lot like last week. Like the Dolphins, the Saints don't have a great run game but would be wise to use it against a defense like the Bills which has struggled against the run. Pierre Thomas had his breakout game against the Bills four years ago in Buffalo, and we could see a repeat performance on Sunday.
Overall, it's very tough to envision a scenario where the Bills go into New Orleans with their backup QB and beat the 5-1 Saints. Here's a closer look at the matchups that we'll see on Sunday.
Saints' Pass Offense vs. Bills' Pass Defense
The Bills will face their toughest matchup yet when they face Brees and co. The only QB they've faced who is in Brees' league is Brady, and that was at home and with a depleted receiving corps. The Saints will look to come out swinging after the bye week, especially coming off of their first loss of the season. Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd better have the rust shaken off because they will need to have big games this Sunday. The silver lining for the Bills is that the Saints' biggest play-maker, Jimmy Graham, may miss the game with due to injury.
Bills' Pass Offense vs. Saints' Pass Defense
Lewis has done enough to keep the Bills in his first two games, but he'll need to do more this weekend. The Saints have eight INTs and 20 sacks on the season, so the Bills will be facing a team that can force mistakes. The Bills might be wise to use a screen game similar to the one that they used in Miami to try and slow down the Saints' attacking defense on the turf. They'll need to involve T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin more and try to utilize their speed on the fast track in the Superdome.
Saints' Rush Offense vs. Bills' Rush Defense
This is an area where the Bills have a sort of advantage. The Saints are like the Dolphins in that they are a pass-happy team. You can run on the Bills and can open up the defense by succeeding on the ground. The Saints are a pass-first team. They are the no. 2 passing offense in the league as opposed to the 22nd rushing offense. They can probably run on the Bills, but the question is will they? We'll see if Sean Payton and Brees can come out with a balanced approach that will open up the entire offense.
Bills' Rush Offense vs. Saints' Rush Defense
The Bills will try and rush the ball against the Saints so that they can keep the ball away from their offense. There is a good chance that they'll be doing it without C.J. Spiller. It would be a good place for Spiller to try and get going, but he really needs to rest his ankle. That will put the load on the already-hobbled Fred Jackson. Expect the duo of Jackson and Tashard Choice to put in workmen-like days if they can keep the game close early.
Final Score Prediction: Saints 31 -- Bills 21
The Bills will give it another good effort, but what are the chances they get a stinker out of a team coming off of a bye on the road two weeks in a row? The Dolphins gave them a mulligan last week, but the Saints will come out firing. I do think the Bills can run on the Saints, which is what might keep the game close for awhile. The Bills have scored 20 points in each of their first seven games, so I think they can do it in an offensive-friendly stadium like the Superdome. There is just too much firepower in Brees' arsenal to beat this team at home with your backup QB. The Bills will fall to 3-5 and the grind continues.