Buffalo Bills (3-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-3)
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The 3-0 Buffalo Bills face a major gut check as they strive for a 4-0 start for the first time since 1992. They invade St. Louis hoping to drop the Rams to their fourth straight loss to start the season. The Bills haven't won in St. Louis since their first visit to the Edward Jones Dome in 1995. Below are my keys to a Bills victory and a great start to the season:
Start fast, play inspired: We are an 8 point favorite and should win this game. The best way to put away teams that aren't as good as you is to do it early. We saw how an 'inferior' team can stay in the game last week; there's no reason to let that happen again this week.
Stop the Steve-o: With good old Trent Green joining the starting lineup, I think it's pretty obvious the Rams need to really integrate Steven Jackson into the offense. He is by far their best player, so it'll be no surprise if they pretty much run him into the ground.
Get after the other Trent: I fear for Trent Green's safety, but our defense shouldn't. Green has obviously been cleared for contact and should be ready for a big pass rush. Let's give it to him. The Rams' O-Line has been awful this year, and that is being nice. We need to blitz early and often, and make Green as uncomfortable as possible, if he isn't already. I'm expecting 4 sacks or more and will be disappointed if we don't hit that.
Turnovers, as in "get some": I, for one, was fully expecting a big season turnover-wise out of our defense. That hasn't exactly happened yet, but there will be plenty of opportunities this week. A Rams team that has been outscored by 29 points per game has actually only turned it over 3 times. It'd be nice to add to that number and finally get our defense going in that category. We've been pretty excellent in all areas except for turnovers thus far.
Run it like the rest: The Rams are allowing 184 yards per game on the ground, so it's pretty obvious that they are weak in that area (like most areas). After three mediocre rushing performances, this needs to be the week the Bills offense and Marshawn Lynch step it up and dominate on the ground. The Rams' D is there for abusing, so it's time for our OL to take over a game. If we can't run it this week, I'm afraid of how we'll run it the rest of the season.
Attack deep: This is one key to pull from last week. Again, I feel it's absolutely necessary to try the Rams deep. They are about as bad as it gets in the secondary, and we really need to attack that. I've mentioned in the past how important it is for our offense to get Lee Evans involved early. Last week was a nice example. We didn't get the ball to Lee that much until the fourth quarter and our offensive production suffered, in part, because of that. Like most teams, it's extremely important to the offense's success to get the top WR involved. This week is as good as any week to throw it deep early and often. Evans should have opportunities to literally embarrass the Rams' "starting" corners.
Impose our will: Like I mentioned before, we are the superior team, we just have to show it. With Scott Linehan likely to be fired if we win, there's no reason we should let this be a close game. There has been a lot of turmoil surrounding the Rams this week, and we need to play off of that. It is important for us to dictate the tempo as we did against Seattle and at times against Jacksonville. This week is a good time to really prove what kind of team we are.
Make Special Team special again: Last week we were pretty awful in this phase, while we were rather mediocre the prior week. After a phenomenal performance in Week 1, the unit's play has slipped. With Roscoe out for the next month or so, we need other guys (Leodis and friends) to step up and prove their worth. Specifically, the coverage units really need to step up and limit the big returns. This has been an issue the past two weeks, and this week we'll need to hold the semi-still-dangerous Dante Hall in check. Time for Bobby April to whip his boys back into shape.
Don't be that guy: Everybody hates 'that guy', so let's not be him. The Rams are a team that is about as weak as they come and we are rather solid in all three phases. Under Dick Jauron the Bills have lost one game against a team that finished the season with a worse record that us (Detroit 2006). It's obvious that he has the team ready for the teams the Bills are supposed to beat. The Rams game should be no different and they should play it that way. Like they have in the past, there's no reason to be looking past this week's opponent. Jauron's teams have done a solid job beating the teams they should beat; let's not see something different this time.
The Bills are 3-0 and looking good. The Rams are 0-3 and have looked about as bad as physically possible. On paper the Bills should easily take care of business. However, as this is the NFL, anything is possible. The Bills need to stay focused and ready as every road game is a challenge. Go Bills, and let's make it 4-0!!!
Stay tuned to Buffalo Rumblings and today's Open Game Thread for a "live chat" during today's big game!