Before the season started, Bills fans and Raiders fans alike probably saw this game on the schedule and, without thinking, continued down the list of teams they'd be playing this season. I doubt anyone looked at it and said to themselves, "This is going to be an important match-up. We'll need to be at the top of our game in this one."
That's why this is the matchup that wasn't. It turns out we were wrong.
Suddenly, as we enter the third week of the NFL's regular season, we're looking at two teams who are coming off big wins. We're looking at two teams who are .500 or better.
We're looking at a couple of teams who are confident in their playoff potential.
Let's take a look at what each team needs to do in order to improve their record.
What the Raiders need to do:
Oakland needs to utilize the same type of game-plan they did last week against the Chiefs. The Raiders ran the football 46 times last week, and it resulted in complete control of the clock, and a very tired Kansas City defense.
As JaMarcus Russell continues to become more comfortable with his receivers and the overall game-plan of his team, he's in a great situation where he has young, tough running backs who can carry the load in the meantime.
The more Oakland utilizes the running game, the better their chances of staying in games. Eventually Russell will be ready to step up, and I'm sure he'll let everyone know when that time comes.
On defense, the Raiders will need to stack the line and prevent Marshawn Lynch from gaining substantial yardage on first and second down. By doing this, it will force Trent Edwards, who only had five incomplete passes last week, to throw further down-field.
If they can consistently challenge Edwards, they'll have a much better opportunity to win this game.
What the Bills need to do:
Buffalo needs to get out in front early on. If they can build an early lead, this will force JaMarcus Russell to throw the ball, which is something he only did seventeen times last week, completing only six passes. Taking Oakland's rushing attack out of the equation will greatly improve Buffalo's ability to control the clock and limit costly mistakes.
Trent Edwards showed last week that he can do it through the air. Now is when he needs to prove how consistent he can be.
On defense, the Bills can afford to be as one-dimensional as a Colecovision game. If they can figure out a way to slow down Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas... I think their chances of winning are very good. It's gut-check time for JaMarcus Russell.
Start: Darren McFadden, Trent Edwards and Lee Evans
Sit: JaMarcus Russell and Zach Miller
I have to go with the Buffalo Bills here. As you saw in my preview, "what the Bills need to do" seems a lot easier said than "what the Raiders need to do". The biggest factor is going to be how JaMarcus Russell performs, and I can't say that I'm confident in his ability at this point in the season.