The Buffalo Bills are fighting for their playoff lives with their current record of 6-5 as they get ready to take on the San Francisco 49ers in front of their home crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday afternoon.
One of the biggest battles of this game is between the Bills No. 1 wide receiver Lee Evans, matching up against the 49ers' No. 1 corner, Nate Clements.
Now you Buffalo fans out there will remember Clements, the former Bill. He was drafted by the Bills in the first round in 2001 (21st overall) out of Ohio State and enjoyed many years of success in his stay in Buffalo.
The relationship ended two seasons ago because Clements wanted to go to a winning team. His choice was the 49ers, who he believed were heading in the right direction. Now just in his second year with the team, the storied franchise has gone 8-19 since he arrived, not exactly what he was hoping for. Although an eight-year, $80 million contract might help him through the tough times.
Clements is a strong cornerback who has a unique blend of size and speed and is very physical. He might have met his match though going up against Lee Evans.
Evans is a deep threat at all times during the game. So far this year, Evans has caught 42 passes for 810 yards and three touchdowns. That is over 19 yards a catch (19.3)!
Who will win this matchup?
If Clements wants to win this battle
He has to play bump and run against Evans. If he is left out man on man with the wide out he has to play his physical game. He is bigger than Evans (6’0” to 5’10”, 205 lbs. to 197) and should play his style of play that has made him known in the league as one of the most physical corners. If he tries to give Evans some cushion, not to get beat deep, Evans should be able to use his speed and run underneath routes right in front of the corner. If this is to happen, Clements should come up and put a lick on Evans every time he touches the ball. The big corner has forced 17 fumbles in his career which is unheard of coming from the corner position.
If Evans wants to win this battle
Clements will most likely try to run one on one with Evans due to injuries in the 49ers secondary. Evans has to do what he does best, get open deep using double moves. Clements has a nose for the ball and will try to make the interception if given the chance so look for him to try and jump routes, where the double move is most effective.
Clements got a good look at the back of Terrell Owens jersey last week on deep balls, letting up over 200 yards to the Dallas wide out. Now that is not saying that Evans is at the same level with the big and powerful “T.O.” but he can get open deep just as good as anyone in the league. If Clements drops back and gives Evans a little cushion in a zone, he could still try the double move but he should take advantage by running patterns like comebacks and hitches to get the underneath yards.
- Evans averages 73.6 yards a game this season but when Josh Reed is in the line up for Buffalo, his stats go up even more. With Reed, Evans averages 4.5 receptions and 93.4 yards a game. Good thing for Evans that Reed is back to 100 percent.
- The 49ers have the 29th-ranked pass defense, allowing 243.9 yards through the air a game. They also let up the 29th most points per game, with 28.2.
Nate Clements should be matched up against his former teammate, Lee Evans most of the game. I believe that Evans will get open a few times deep, the only problem is the ball getting to him. With Trent Edwards having such a good game last weekend, the Bills should try their shots down the field.
With one-on-one coverage, Edwards will give his man Evans a few chances to make a play. I think Evans will catch five passes for 70-80 yards and one touchdown. Watch out for Clements though. He only has two interceptions this season but he will capitalize on a mistake. Edwards has to make sure the ball can only be caught by his teammates.