Week three against the San Diego Chargers will be the toughest match-up that the Bills have had this season. It will be a huge test for the defense as Philip Rivers and the offense can score points and the Bills will need to not only stop an aggressive offense, but will need to find an aggressive offense of their own if they hope to pull out a win and be 3-0 in September.
With that in mind, here are 4 reasons the Buffalo Bills have the edge against the San Diego Chargers:
West Coast Team Coming to East Coast
It has been no surprise that teams on the West Coast have complained about traveling across the country to wake up and play football for an early game. The Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers kickoff at 1 PM, making the time change a bright and early 10 AM on the West Coast. Until the league finds a way to compromise by possibly having West Coast travelling games start in the afternoon or even prime time, it will continue to be an advantage that the Bills and other East Coast teams happily welcome. Since 2000, San Diego has travelled to Ralph Wilson four times and lost three of those four match-ups. In the one win against the Bills, they were able to squeak out a victory by a field goal.
San Diego is Coming Off of a Huge Win
In a game where the reigning Super Bowl Champs were expected to win, the Chargers offense came out firing and picked apart a defense that is considered one of the top in the league. San Diego was able to find Antonio Gates on three touchdown passes against the Seattle Seahawks. The offense also maintained possession for 42 minutes of the game. Rivers executed a lot of small dump passes and check down plays, which is very similar to how the Miami Dolphins started the second half against the Buffalo Bills. Expect the Chargers to have the same game plan coming into Buffalo. With that being said, there have been a lot of distractions and Twitter slamming between the Chargers and Seahawks. The Buffalo Bills are hoping for a worn out Charger team that is still chirping and focusing on their win over Richard Sherman rather than worrying about the Bills’ offense and defense.
Key Injuries could Impact San Diego
Last week’s victory did not come without some significant loss for the Chargers. Running back Ryan Mathews was carted off the field with a knee injury and will not be playing this week. The Buffalo Bills run defense is much improved holding Matt Forte to 82 yards in week one and Lamar Miller to 46 yards last week. Knowshon Moreno was injured during the first quarter and was only able to run a total of 4 yards before heading to the locker room. Chargers back up Donald Brown will have a tough start against a Buffalo Bills defense that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown to opponents. Look for San Diego to use Danny Woodhead throughout the game as well to try and get the run game going. Cornerback Brandon Flowers could also miss the game with a groin injury that kept him out of the game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Buffalo Bills should be welcoming players back from injury. Keith Rivers should be ready to go, but Doug Marrone is still keeping an eye on the linebacker who suffered a groin injury in week one. Rivers provided intensity and broke up key plays in the victory over the Chicago Bears. If he is unable to come back, the Bills will continue to start rookie Preston Brown, who has stepped up and played well. Look for tight end Lee Smith to possibly head back this week as well.
Buffalo Bills Have the Home Crowd
After the Buffalo Bills dominated the Miami Dolphins, one thing was certain: The stadium was rocking and helped influence the play on the field. Head Coach Doug Marrone praised the fans immediately after the game stating that they played a part in third down stops and penalties against the Dolphins. He followed that up on Monday saying that the fan presence has had an impact at Ralph Wilson Stadium since he started the 2013 season. EJ Manuel also plays significantly better in front of his home crowd. Manuel is 4-1 playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium with his only loss being his rookie debut against the New England Patriots, losing 23-21. Now being fully healthy and having a home crowd behind him, not to mention Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams, CJ Spiller, and Fred Jackson, he should continue impressing this week.
This is a big game for the Buffalo Bills as division foes are all playing winnable games. Miami will be taking on the banged up Kansas City Chiefs, while the New England Patriots go up against the Oakland Raiders. The New York Jets will still be steaming about their meltdown in the second half of the Packers game as they play in prime-time against the Chicago Bears. The Buffalo Bills have had good play in all three phases of the game and they will need to continue that this week against the Chargers.