Gameday Preview: Bills vs. Raiders
Both the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders displayed notable Week 1 performances. Sunday appears as if it will be a different story. These AFC foes are looking to for a game to solidify their 2011 campaign and aiming for a victory that will set the tone for the rest of the season. The Bills are determined to welcome fans with a win in the home opener and start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2003, while the Raiders will attempt to establish physicality early and steal a win on the road.
Bills Passing Offense
After a full-blown aerial attack in Week 1, do not be surprised to watch Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense pick up exactly where they left off. The Bills have the opportunity to exploit a feeble Oakland secondary that has not been the same since the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha. Typically, I am not fond of calling out one player and placing significance on his performance, however Fitzpatrick must favor the matchup of Stevie Johnson vs. Stanford Routt. Yes, Johnson has been limited this week in practice, but Routt’s performance against the Denver Broncos in their Monday Night Football showdown provided evidence that the secondary is vulnerable. This matchup is identified for the simple reason of penalties. Routt is a fundamentally sound cornerback, however his tendency to be a physical corner can create penalties in the secondary. In Week 1, Oakland committed 15 penalties that yielded 131 yards to the Denver Broncos. Look for the Bills receivers to continue exploiting the black hole that exists in the Raiders secondary, and capitalize on penalties that are committed by Oakland’s physical cornerbacks.
Bills Run Defense
Take a deep breath before you become exasperated that I dare to mention this element of the Bills after holding Kansas City to 108 total rushing yards. Expect the Bills run defense to be a common theme for victories in the 2011 season. Although Buffalo’s front seven was a dominant unit against the Chiefs, the Raiders are determined to bring a different attitude into this Week 2 matchup. The challenge of Sunday afternoon will now be to repeat the dominating performance the Bills had just a week ago. It was strongly encouraging to silence one of the NFL’s most talented running backs, however the defense now faces a runner that has both finesse and power in Darren McFadden. McFadden possesses the talent to operate the Wildcat, catch passes, and (obviously) run the ball. This is a challenge that the defense is more than willing to accept, especially at home with Buffalo’s 12th man behind them.
Buffalo’s secondary must establish dominance early against a feeble Oakland passing attack to create a favorable matchup. Terrence McGee will not be dressed on Sunday due to a hamstring injury that was suffered in Week 1. Without McGee, the Bills secondary will need young playmakers, such as Aaron Williams, to produce. Oakland will be without the services of wide receiver Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy on Sunday. With injuries sustained to both squads, the Bills secondary holds the slight advantage that must be utilized to stifle Jason Campbell in the pocket. Expect the secondary to display their advantage and keep a lock on Oakland’s wide receiving corps. With sufficient play from the secondary, Buffalo’s front seven will be given the opportunity to increase pressure and potential create a few coverage sacks.
In a game between two rising teams, the slight advantage should be handed to the Buffalo Bills. After the dominating performance in Kansas City, the Bills must find a way to duplicate that energy at Ralph Wilson Field on Sunday. In a home opener that will be packed with ecstatic Bills fans, expect the home field advantage to pay off in the 4th quarter. If the Bills successfully start their season 2-0, expect to slowly see more recognition for our team. Ultimately, I fully expect the Bills to grab another win and start the season 2-0. This is too good of an opportunity at home for the Bills to pass on. I like the Bills over the Raiders in this matchup with a final of 31-17.
Bills Mafia Blog