The Buffalo Bills take on Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos this Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, New York, as the Bills look to end their seven-game losing skid and the Broncos look to improve their playoff hopes.
The Broncos started the year 1-5 with Kyle Orton under center and are now vying for a playoff berth with a 7-2 record under Tebow. Denver has played inspired football as of late, without much credit given to a strong rushing attack ranked first in the entire National Football League and a ferocious defense led by dominant pass-rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
If the Bills hope to have a chance in the game, they must bring a pass-rush of some sort to fluster Tebow, who has been sacked 27 times on the year. Marcell Dareus leads the Bills with 5.5 sacks, but Buffalo hasn't been able to generate a pass rush from their outside linebackers, which is necessary in operating a 3-4 defensive front.
On the other side of the ball, Miller and Dumervil have combined for 20 sacks on the season and will be wreaking havoc on tackles Demetrius Bell and Erik Pears. Both tackles struggled the past two weeks against the San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins, forcing Ryan Fitzpatrick into bad decision-making.
Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson has proven that he can expose big-time cornerbacks, and he has another true test this Sunday in veteran Champ Bailey, a perennial Pro Bowler. It will be interesting to see if Broncos head coach John Fox opts to have Bailey cover Johnson for the day, or rotate him with Andre Goodman, who has been beat up by opposing wideouts in recent weeks.
Stopping Tim Tebow and the Broncos' rush offense will be the most important factor this week for the Bills, as they already struggle to contain the run. Last week, they allowed Dolphins running back Reggie Bush to rush for 203 yards and a score.
This week, they will see their former first round draft pick Willis McGahee, who has rushed for 990 yards on 206 carries, scoring four times. Tebow has rushed for 610 yards and five touchdowns on 106 carries, and the Bills need to utilize their linebackers and build a wall at the line of scrimmage in order to stop the read-option that Denver runs.
However, if the Bills buy into the run too much, Denver can attack them with wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, who have combined for 1,048 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Bills will have to pick their poison against the Denver offense and hope that they can protect Ryan Fitzpatrick in order to earn their first victory since shutting out the Washington Redskins over seven weeks ago.