Saints Host Bills: A Defensive Battle

Week 8, Bills v Saints

In Week 8 the Buffalo Bills (3-4) visit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to play the New Orleans Saints (5-1)

The Saints are coming off a bye after a shocking last minute loss to the New England Patriots.  The Bills are juggling quarterbacks and hoping their current starter, Thad Lewis can stay healthy enough to continue to grow as at the position.

The question of quarterbacks may give the Saints a significant advantage over the Bills. One has to think very hard to remember the last time Drew Brees did not start. Still thinking…

Anyway, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham sis active this week while running back C. J. Spiller is out for the Bills. Graham has been battling a torn left plantar fascia I his foot.  He calls it a “pain tolerance issue.” Spiller missed practice all week and is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury.  Fred Jackson will start in his place with help from Tashard Choice and Ronnie Wingo in the backfield.

Both teams have a +5 turnover ratio, so this will be a battle of the ball hunters. Whoever can force the most turnovers and then score from those turnovers will have a leg up. While Brees has a QBR of 102.6, Lewis is at 85.3. Brees has completed 157 of 237 passes for 1958 yards, 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Lewis has 40 of 64 completions for 418 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The balance of power is severely slanted toward New Orleans. There is no doubt that the saints took their bye week but worked on everything that went wrong against the Patriots last time they played. They are cohesive but need to get more consistent.

Lewis led the Bills to a victory over the Miami Dolphins last week but the noise level in the Superdome –from some of the most dedicated fans in the league- will challenge the Bills communications at the line of scrimmage.  To prepare, the coaches

This will be the 10th time these teams have met in regular season play, and the Saints hold a 5-4 advantage. A win would allow the Bills to end a 3-game losing streak against the Saints and give them back to back road wins.

A win for the Saints would validate their run for the playoffs. With five straight wins,  there is very little reason to not believe they will end up in postseason play. The Bills are looking like a contender as well, and a win over the Saints will push them further up the ladder.

Ball control, clock management and scoring will be the main issues in this game. Because the defenses are so well-matched, our prediction has to go toward the offensive side. New Orleans had the worst run defense last year, but have improved to 22nd in the league. If the Bills can get Jackson through the line they may be able to capitalize on this quirk in the Saints’ game play. The Saints and Bills are also well matched offensively, the Saints with 17 touchdowns and the Bills with 16. This is so close it is almost impossible to call.

It will not be a high scoring game.  Whoever can wear down the other defense will gain the advantage and score. Too close to call, but will be an exciting game to watch nonetheless.

 

By: Brandi Tasby

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