Saints-Bills: Three Keys To a New Orleans Win at Buffalo

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst ISeptember 26, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 10:  Quarterback Trent Edwards #5 celebrates with Fred Jackson #22 of the Buffalo Bills after scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome August 10, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Bills defeated the Saints 13-10.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

How do you like me now?

That has got to be the New Orleans Saints' attitude in regards to the national media and non-Saints fans after their 2-0 start.

After posting 45 points against the Detroit Lions, many critics said, "Yeah, that was good, but it was against the Lions. You won't match that against the Philadelphia Eagles' defense."

48 points later, not only did they match it, but they surpassed it on the road in a hostile environment.

Unfortunately, the Saints will have to march into Buffalo without running back Mike Bell. Bell is fourth in the league in rushing and has one touchdown.

Pierre Thomas, now back healthy after suffering a sprained MCL in the preseason, will have to carry the load for the Saints' running game.

The Saints will win if...

1) The passing game can flourish even in the wind and rain

The entire New Orleans Saints organization, not just the offense, relies so much on quarterback Drew Brees.

Brees has had ideal passing conditions in the Superdome and at Lincoln Financial Field. Now he must go to Buffalo, a town known for giving opposing quarterbacks a difficult time.

The forecast in Buffalo calls for a windy, wet afternoon.

Brees and his receivers are going to have to turn up their concentration levels even higher than usual in order to be successful.

Jeremy Shockey's impact should be substantial in this game. Patriots tight-end Benjamin Watson exploited the Bill's defense for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter in New England's thrilling fourth quarter comeback victory in week one.

Look for Brees to take advantage of Buffalo's 31st ranked pass defense.

2) The defense slows down running back Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson has been a big reason why the Buffalo Bills are averaging 28.5 points per game.

Jackson leads the team in both rushing and receiving yards. He has more catches (11) than wide receivers Lee Evans and Terrell Owens have combined (nine).

Jackson has been getting the carries that suspended running back Marshawn Lynch usually gets, but I don't see him ceding the carries to Lynch when he returns in week four.

As Jackson goes, so does the Bills offense.

3) New Orleans limits Buffalo's big plays

The Saints have surrendered big plays in each of the first two games. Luckily, the Saints have been able to overcome them with big plays of their own.

Buffalo has big-play ability all over the field.

Wide receivers Lee Evans and Terrell Owens have the ability to break a play wide open and score a touchdown.

Roscoe Parrish, the Bills' ace return man, has returned a punt for a touchdown in each of the past three seasons and has led the NFL in yards per return the past two years.

On paper, the Saints appear to be the more talented team, but they can't allow the Bills to gain momentum with big plays.

Three questions for New Orleans headed into week three...

1) How will the running game look?

The offseason expectations for Pierre Thomas were high. He had over 900 yards in total offense to go along with 12 touchdowns last year. He hasn't played more than a few downs this season as he makes his way back from injury.

2) How will Jabari Greer perform in his return to Buffalo?

Greer spent his first five seasons in Buffalo before moving to New Orleans this past offseason. As a Saint, he has been playing as one of the top two corners on the roster.

Players always get extra pysched up when they face their old team. It'll be interesting to see how Greer reacts to playing in his old stadium.

3) How will the Saints handle the Bills' no-huddle attack?

The Saints use the no-huddle but only in certain circumstances. The Bills use the no-huddle constantly.

Last week the Saints allowed the Eagles to hold the ball on one drive for over eight minutes but were given the opportunity to sub in players on that drive because the Eagles used a huddle.

They won't have that luxury against Buffalo.


New Orleans 28, Buffalo 24


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