This Sunday, the 0-8 Buffalo Bills take on the 2-6 Detroit Lions. The Lions have outplayed their record, and are coming off of a brutal overtime loss to the New York Jets, as the Bills are coming off of another last minute loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Detroit Lions were the last team to go 0-16 for a season, and the Bills look like they might be following suit.
Let’s take a look at the top individual player vs. player matchups to keep an eye on come Sunday.
Ndamukong Suh is quickly making a name for himself as not only the most dominating rookie in the class of 2010, but one of the most elite defensive tackles in the entire National Football League. Through the first eight games of the season, Suh has recorded 30 tackles, while making 6.5 sacks.
The Bills interior line will struggle to contain Suh, and will most likely rely on a double team to keep him in check. However, keeping Suh in check will open up lanes for fellow linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril, who both have four sacks on the year.
With Terrence McGee sidelined in recent weeks due to nagging injuries, it is likely that Leodis McKelvin will make the start again at cornerback, where he will line up opposite one of the best wide receivers in the game, Calvin Johnson.
Johnson has 39 catches for 551 yards with eight touchdowns on the season, while catching passes from three different quarterbacks. With Matthew Stafford recovering from a separated shoulder, it is still unclear whether Shaun Hill or Drew Stanton will be the man under center, but Johnson is always a touchdown threat, no matter who the quarterback is.
McKelvin has played decently this year, making 39 tackles while defending five passes.
Bills LB Chris Kelsay Vs. Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew
In the 2009 NFL Draft, many hoped that Oklahoma State standout tight end Brandon Pettigrew would be one of the two Buffalo Bills first round choices. However, Pettigrew was snatched by the Detroit Lions with the No. 20 overall pick.
Pettigrew has been a solid tight end, and has greatly improved this season, catching 38 passes for 362 yards and finding the endzone three times. The Bills continued their woeful play against opposing tight ends last week, when they allowed a touchdown to Bears tight end Greg Olsen, bringing opposing tight ends stats to 32 receptions for 428 yards with eight touchdowns.
Kelsay has been primarily a pass rusher as of late, due to his lack of coverage ability, but Pettigrew is a threat down the seams, as Calvin Johnson will most likely take on a double team for most of the game.
Bills WR Steve Johnson Vs. Lions CB Alphonso Smith
Stevie Johnson has been an outstanding surprise for the Buffalo Bills this season, making 41 catches for 554 yards, scoring six times, and is coming off of a great 11 catch game against the Chicago Bears. With Roscoe Parrish placed on injured reserve with a broken wrist, it is unclear how teams will change their plan to cover the Bills top three wide receivers, but Johnson has been and should continue to be Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target.
Alphonso smith has been great this year in coverage, making 30 tackles, five interceptions, and defending eight passes. Smith is a ball hawk, but Johnson will have opportunities to shine against a porous defense ranked 21st against the pass.
Paul Posluszny has been absolutely incredible this season, and is playing like a man on a mission. Poz has 65 tackles on the year, despite missing two games with injury, and has four games with at least 10. He has been great against the run, and will need that to continue against the rookie, Jahvid Best.
Best has rushed 107 times for 345 yards with four touchdowns, but has been a receiving threat out of the backfield as well, catching 41 passes for 356 yards with another touchdown. Best has more receptions than Calvin Johnson, and his dynamic speed could prove lethal against the lackluster Bills run defense.