The Oakland Raiders come into Orchard Park, New York on a short week after winning a hard-fought game over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. The Buffalo Bills return home after a dominating win in Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a matchup of two AFC teams trying to claw their way back into the national spotlight and the playoff race.
The Raiders beat the Broncos with a dominating defensive line and a great rushing attack led by running back Darren McFadden. The Bills won by forcing turnovers, making running back Jamaal Charles largely a non-factor, and keeping quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick upright most of the game.
This matchup is all about how the lines play: the Raiders’ defensive line versus the Bills’ offensive line in the passing game, and the Bills’ defensive line versus the Raiders’ offensive line and Darren McFadden in the running game.
The Bills only allowed one sack of Fitzpatrick, and that was by linebacker Tamba Hali who had 14.5 sacks all of last season. The offensive line was one of the biggest question marks heading into the season, and they acquitted themselves nicely against the Chiefs. However, the Raiders will be another stiff test. They accumulated four sacks against the Broncos.
Darren McFadden rushed for 150 yards on 22 carries against the Broncos. He is a fast, physical running back who could be on the verge of elite status especially if he keeps turning in games like that. The Bills made running back Jamaal Charles, who was one of the top running backs in 2010, largely a non-factor in their win. They filled their gaps on almost every play. That alone will not stop McFadden though.
Keys to the game, Raiders:
1. Establish the ground game early. If the Raiders are able to pound the ball early and often, they will tire the Bills’ defense out and open up opportunities for quarterback Jason Campbell, even with two of his top wide receivers out.
2. Bring the heat. The Raiders were able to pressure Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton throughout the night, bringing him down for a sack four times. The Bills’ offense will struggle if Fitzpatrick is getting hit on a lot of dropbacks.
Keys to the game, Bills:
1. Contain Darren McFadden. The Bills’ defense was much better against the run in Week One than they were last season against the Chiefs. They were much more mindful of their gaps than last season, which made all the difference. However, against McFadden, they not only need to mind their gaps, but be sound tacklers as well. With his size, they need to get as many players to the ball as possible.
2. Spread out the Raiders’s D. Much like last week, the Bills need to spread out their offense to slow down the pass rush. It worked well against the Chiefs, with running back Fred Jackson rushing for over 100 yards and Fitzpatrick throwing for four touchdowns.
Prediction: This game is going to be very close. The Raiders have a great running game and defensive line. The Bills need to be on their game for 60 minutes and not let the Raiders take the home crowd out of the game. 21-20 Bills.
Here’s Week Two of the Buffalo Bills playlist:
Yes, a holdover from last week, but well worth it. Classic pregame song.
Also necessary because it’s awesome.
Fourth quarter. Close game. Body screaming in pain. “But I won’t quit, because I want more!”
Do you feel it?
Got to leave some for the rest of the season. B-U-F-F-A-L-O.