Bills look to stump Manning and the Giants
blog by Dan Ludwig • October 15, 2011 @ 7:00am
I can hear the pessimistic Bills fans from here—- “Yea, but our secondary is like Swiss cheese,” says one hater. “Yea, but our wide receivers are dropping like flies,” says another doubter. The sad reality is that “Yea, but…” is part of the vernacular for a Buffalo football fan. The team’s past record of futility (even in the face of success) would leave any fan doubtful; few Buffalonians need to be reminded about the 2008 season during which the team started 4-0 but finished 7-9…again.
But even the most cynical of fans has to feel the difference this year; the Bills are scoring points like their going out of style and the defense is making big plays when it matters most (see Nick Barnett’s drive-stopping interception at the end of last week’s game). On top of that, Buffalo finally got the upper hand on The Hoodie and even bested Philadelphia’s Dream Team.
The Bills will look to sway any remaining doubters this Sunday when they visit MetLife Stadium to play the New York Giants. The Giants have been an up-and-down team since Week One and enter the game at 3-2. The traditionally dominant offensive line has been missing blocks and under-performing and Eli Manning has been, well, Eli Manning (he threw 3 interceptions last Sunday in the second half against the Seahawks, not surprising when you consider his league-leading 25 picks thrown last year).
Ahmad Bradshaw will have to shoulder the load at running back this week for the Giants; Brandon Jacobs’ bum MCL kept him out of practice and has made him doubtful for this Sunday’s game.
The Giants aren’t the only team dealing with injury issues, however. The Bills’ pass-rushing linebacker Shawne Merriman is doubtful for Sunday’s game, his nagging Achilles injury has flared up again.
The Bills’ injury woes continue on the offensive side of the ball with Donald Jones, who will be out four to six weeks after he sprained his ankle against the Eagles. In his place, the Bills will look for continued production from hometown boy Naaman Roosevelt in the slot and David Nelson moves to the second receiver position. The moving and shaking at wide receiver comes amongst much speculation that the Bills are chasing after another wide receiver . Of course, any potential roster moves at wide receiver are just rumors…for now.
The outcome of Sunday’s game boils down to a few key issues:
- Which version of Eli Manning will the Bills see on Sunday? Will it be the same quarterback that threw those three interceptions in the second half last week, or the quarterback that posted an 8-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the Giants’ three victories. If it is the latter version, the Bills could be in trouble.
- Will the Bills’ depleted wide receiver corps affect the offensive production? With how much Fitzpatrick likes to spread the ball and with Chan Gailey’s growing reputation as a mad scientist behind the clipboard, the Bills’ offense will likely continue to matriculate the ball down the field.
- The Giants gave away a football game at home last week. Since their coach, Tom Coughlin, is from the old school of coaching, the Giant players probably did not have the most enjoyable week at practice. Did Coughlin inspire his team to come out with a chip on a shoulder and a fire under their butts? If so, it could spell trouble for the Bills; an angry team is always a dangerous team, no matter the sport.
-If the Bills can jump out to an early lead and make the Giants put the ball in the air, the play-makers from past weeks (like George Wilson and Nick Barnett) will jump all over Manning’s passes.
-I doubt the Amish Rifle is daunted by the loss of another wide receiver—the myriad weapons he has at his disposal still (see C.J. Spiller and Brad Smith) should provide plenty of passing options.
At the end of the day, the Bills will move to 5-1, winning the game 31-21.