Stats don’t matter much in preseason. Not much matters in preseason except setting a depth chart, staying healthy, and maybe finding a few hidden gems. Of course, getting a new system right will always be important. That's what training camp, OTA’s, and the rest of the offseason is for.
The games are for playing. The games that matter are the ones that count in the win or loss column.
Let’s take a look at a few things to watch for in this game.
Tale of the Tape
The Bills boast a smart quarterback, a talented set of wide receivers, and a solid offensive line, yet finished 25th in the league in passing last season.
Enter Terrell Owens and the no-huddle offense.
With TO out for the game Saturday, it will be a new offensive scheme against a new defensive scheme. Trent Edwards has looked good in the no-huddle offense, and with explosive players like Lee Evans, Roscoe Parish, and second-year player James Hardy, the receiving core is solid.
The Packers will come in still learning how to play the 3-4 defense. It should be interesting to see how getting reorganized, getting signals out, and getting aligned works as the Packers defense hustles to get set against the no-huddle.
Pros vs. Joes
The Bill haven’t had a legitimate tight end in a while. Let me throw some names at you: Jonathan Stupor, Derek Shouman, Shawn Nelson, Travis McCall, and Derek Fine. I’ll take the real names of the Backstreet Boys for 200? No, that’s the list of tight ends currently on the roster in Buffalo.
Meanwhile, the Packers have big names like A.J. Hawk (whose name is currently bigger than his play to be fair), Nick Barnet, a Pro Bowler at safety in Nick Collins, plus heavy-hitter Atari Bigby, and talented new Packer Anthony Smith.
With this new 3-4, the blitz can come from anywhere. When you don’t have to worry about taking a safety or nickel back to cover a tight end, that gives a defensive coordinator tremendous flexibility to take risks. Expect to see plenty of linebackers and safeties attacking the quarterback because they just don’t have to worry about getting burned by a Bills tight end.
This looks like the most lopsided match-up of this game.
In the history of these teams, the numbers across the board are incredibly similar. The Bills hold a 3-2 advantage in the five games, but the statistics are eerily close. The Packers have run 315 plays for 1462 yards against the Bills, while Buffalo has run 332 plays for 1458 yards in those games.
The Packers are 22/67 in third down conversions against Buffalo. The Bills are 21/67. On kick returns, the Pack have 19 for 361 yards, while the Bills have 19 for 367 yards. Get it? It’s been close.
The one area Green Bay has had a clear advantage is getting pressure on the quarterback. In those five games, the Pack has recorded 19 sacks, to the Bills' 10. The near two-to-one advantage works out to almost four sacks a game for the Packers.
It shouldn’t surprise you that the Bills used a first round pick to draft a pass-rusher (Penn State’s Aaron Maybin, who just signed).
Don’t Bet On It
The Packers' offensive line has been a work in progress for a couple years now, really since Marco Rivera and Mark Wahle left. The Packers continue to tweak the offensive line and except for Chad Clifton and Daryn Colledge on the left side, nothing is set in stone.
The Cleveland game saw Clifton, Colledge, Wells, Spitz, and Barbe start from left to right. With three games left in the preseason, there are three more opportunities to win jobs.
If I set the +/- of line-ups used with a first team offense at 3.5 you’d have to take the over right?
Spitz could start at center or guard. Josh Sitton could start at guard if Spitz plays center. Breno Giacomini could start at tackle with any of those line-ups. While you hope McCarthy and the coaches pick a starting staff and stick to it, it hasn’t been decided yet.
This would normally be where I make a prediction, but in the preseason, that isn’t even worth it because there are 582 people on each roster and after the first half, it is just too hard to try and make predictions based on the play of back-ups. I mean, that’s why they’re back-ups.
I expect the Packers to win because they have superior talent and depth, but injuries have depleted the roster to some degree on both sides. It should be an exciting game to watch, and even though TO won’t play, it’ll be worth getting your popcorn ready.