The Buffalo Bills are in a rough stretch of their schedule, and it's showing in the final scores of their last two games. They have been outscored 97-31 in those games combined. The opposition has been tough, though.
The Bills had won two straight before running into buzz saws at home against the New England Patriots and on the road vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Bruised and battered, they are still holding onto a respectable 2-3 record.
If you're purely looking at wins and losses they aren't getting a break this week either. The Arizona Cardinals are 4-1 and tied for first place in the NFC West.
With that said, they aren't considered equal to the Niners or Patriots. Even though one of their wins came against New England.
Arizona has an injury riddled backfield to contend with, but their defense has been excellent. They have allowed 20 points or more only one time this season. This will be a significant test for Buffalo, even if the Cards aren't exactly elite at this point.
Here's a deeper look at this matchup
When: October 13, 4:05 p.m. ET
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
Live Stream: Directv Sunday Ticket (Pay Service)
Radio: WGR 550 in Buffalo, 620 (AM) and News/Talk 92.3 KTAR (FM) in Arizona
Spread: Cardinals (-4) per OddsShark.com
The official injury report hasn't been released for either team at this point. However, we do know per Kent Somers of Arizona Republic that RB Ryan Williams is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
The team was already suffering at RB with Beanie Wells on injured reserve.
Per CBS Sports these players are listed as injured, but their status is unknown:
TE—Jim Dray - Knee - Missed Week 5 at St. Louis
TE—Todd Heap - Knee - Missed Week 5 at St. Louis
QB—John Skelton - Ankle - Missed Week 5 at St. Louis
RB—LaRod Stephens-Howling - Hip - Missed Week 5 at St. Louis
DL—Spencer Johnson - Ankle - Missed Week 5 at San Francisco
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
With so many injuries in the backfield this could be the game Larry Fitzgerald really breaks out. Some fantasy owners may have soured on him because he has only one 100-yard receiving game this year.
That said, his production has been up over the last three games. In that span he's averaged eight receptions and 90 yards. The Bills defense has been torched by Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker in consecutive weeks.
This feels like it will be a humongous day for Fitzgerald. Even if you're deep at wide receiver you should start him for major fantasy points.
On the flip side of the fantasy football coin, owners should sit C.J. Spiller. He's just getting himself healthy after a shoulder injury has limited him to 19 carries for 73 yards over the last three games. He told BuffaloBills.com this about his status for Sunday's game:
I'm just taking it day by day trying to do all the necessary things that I can do to make sure that hopefully I'm ready to go. I don't think I wouldn't be ready to go considering I played last week. So just doing all the necessary things that I can.
The Cardinals defense ranks 14th in the NFL against the run, which isn't overwhelming, but they don't give up a ton of scores. Combining that with the fact that Spiller probably won't be 100 percent, and I say sit him.
My sleeper is Kevin Kolb. I certainly wouldn't recommend dropping someone valuable to pick him up, but if, God forbid, you had Matt Cassel, or your top guys are on a bye week, Kolb is worth a look.
The Bills have been touched for 300 yards passing in all but two games. In one of those games Mark Sanchez had 266 yards and three touchdowns. They can be had in the passing game, and Kolb could be the next beneficiary.
What's At Stake
The Niners had their wake-up call in Week 3 vs. the Minnesota Vikings. They are on a roll right now having notched back-to-back blowout wins. The Cardinals have to win these types of games at home if they want to keep pace with the Niners.
The New York Giants come into San Francisco this week. That represents a much tougher test than the Bills should be for the Cardinals. If Arizona is for real they need to win this game.
The Bills are still in the thick of things in their division, as no team is running away with from the pack. On paper the Patriots look like the strongest team, but they are only 3-2.
Getting back on the winning track after two nasty losses would be huge.
What They're Saying
With the Cardinals' injury woes, talks of a trade to add depth or a star has come up. Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com responds to that talk:
There are a lot of questions I am getting about trades when it comes to a running back. If the Cards go get another running back, I think it will be the free-agent route.
That way you don’t surrender a draft pick at a position that you need short-term help with. It’s tough when people start throwing out names like Chris Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew or even Mark Ingram, all of whom apparently have been suggested as targets. Stop. Those aren’t going to happen for a multitude of reasons.
He goes on to give reasons as to why moves for those major names don't make sense. I'd have to agree that grabbing a back from free agency is more practical. Sacrificing assets for a RB isn't in the team's best long term interest.
On the Bills side Ryan Fitzpatrick talks about paying head coach Chan Gailey back for showing confidence in him:
The one thing I love about Chan, and it’s not just me, but he’s given a lot of guys opportunities and most of us have taken advantage of those opportunities. Now for us we’ve got to repay him for the confidence he’s shown in us and get the job done.
This is a nice gesture from Fitzpatrick, but he better hope the guys on defense feel the same way. The play on that side of the ball has been a factor in the team's performance in the last two games.
Bills Player To Watch: Mario Williams
Williams was paid a lot of money to come into Buffalo and become a game-changer. Through five games he has 1.5 sacks, and that production came in one game.
This team needs more from their highest paid player. As of now, he's just another big guy on the field.
Cardinals Player To Watch: William Powell
Powell will likely receive the majority of the touches at running back. If the second-year pro can at least show promise, it will give the Cardinals some hope.
If he struggles to produce, then the Cardinals running back search may kick into overdrive.
Key Matchup: Young CBs vs. Fitzgerald
Whoever draws the assignment of checking Fitzgerald will have his hands full. Second-year pro Aaron Williams and Stephon Gilmore have the size to contend, but containing Fitzgerald is more than physical.
He runs excellent routes, and he has the best hands in football. If he torches the youngsters the Cardinals will be in great shape.
This will be a very close game but the Cardinals are tough at home. They are 9-2 since the beginning of the 2011 season in University of Phoenix Stadium.
They will ride the Kolb-to-Fitzgerald connection, while their defense continues to perform at a high level. My prediction is a 16-10 Cardinals victory.
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