Heading into an early bye week after Sunday's game may seem an impromptu given the Bills string of success over the first five games of the season. The Buffalo Bills are after all one of two teams (the other being fellow rust belt city Detroit) to emerge from a long string of losing seasons to a fast start. However, when the 4-1 Bills take on the 3-2 Giants, they will be doing so without several injured players. Time to heal after the break. Fortunately for the Bills, the Giants have their own share of injuries to deal with as well. In a game that features two highly ranked QBs and playmaking defenses, this should prove to be a top match up of the season.
Undoubtedly the biggest question for the Bills this Sunday is how they will deal without their injured receivers particularly starter Donald Jones who was getting into a nice rhythm. Fitzpatrick has the seventh best rating in the league and has had success working with depth players before. Buffalo native Namaan Roosevelt will be the primary slot receiver after a career high 5 catches for 41 yards last week. Meanwhile the team's two leading wideouts, Stevie Johnson and David Nelson will be facing a dilapidated but still determined Giants secondary that is missing first round pick Prince Amukamara.
The best way to get the pass game rolling in my opinion is a combination of screens and a few deep passes. While Jones was the primary deep man for the Bills, return-man Brad Smith has great speed to become the temporary deep threat. Another option in this regard is RB C.J. Spiller who has found his play limited do to the enormous success Fred Jackson has had running, blocking and pass catching. Spiller having a blazing 4.27 40-time according to CBS would be a great option to have blazing down the field. Expect more catches by Fred Jackson in the backfield and TE Scott Chandler to get more involved as well.
For all the pass rush talent Perry Fewell has, the Giants are the 21st in the league in run defense giving up 122 yards a game. For Fred Jackson, this means its time to party in New York. Jackson is on a personal record-setting pace for the season with over 700 combined yardage this year, and is the third best runner in the league with 480 yards rushing at 5.3 yards a carry. With the Bills passing game under duress, getting the ball out to Jackson as they did against Philly would be an ideal scenario.
Two weeks ago, Bills fans suddenly in a panic when it was discovered left tackle Demetrius Bell would be out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. His replacement, rookie Chris Hairston performed admirably against the Eagles sack leading defense. It seems unfair, but the Bills now get to face the new sack leading team in the NFL, the Giants. Buffalo has surrendered a league low of 4 sacks so far, and the rest of the Bills offensive line remains healthy and strong. If the Bills can duplicate last week's performance they are set in this department.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Bills pass rushers look to find some momentum against a Giants organization that has given up 14 sacks so far (tied 6th worst in the league). While NTs Kyle Williams and Torrel Troup are both recovering from injuries, the Giants interior is in flux with injuries to starting center David Baas and guard Chris Snee. Meanwhile, the Giants tackles are not the greatest meaning that if there is ever a time to start getting sacks, and slow down Eli Manning, the fourth best QB this season, its this week.
For the secondary, the Bills have dealt with their share of injuries, but starter Terrence McGee seems set to play this weekend after missing the first five games so far. Aaron Williams will definitely be out. The Giants meanwhile are missing starter Domenik Hixon but have gotten great production out of Hackim Nicks and Victor Cruz. While Florence, McKelvin and Corner have given up big plays on WRs, they have made a few catches themselves and would do well to continue that streak. Geroge Wilson, Jairus Byrd and Bryan Scott remain strong at safety (no pun intended), but they with Nick Barnett will be trying to keep TE Ballard out of the play.
Lastly, the run defense has shown little improvement on the books from last year being 29th in run defense in the NFL. However, if you factor out last week's game against Vick and McCoy, the Bills run defense has been solid against top runningbacks like Darren McFadden, Green-Ellis and Jamaal Charles. In fact, the Giants will be their easiest test to date with Ahmad Bradshaw with less than 300 yards rushing and Brandon Jacobs likely out (28th as a team in the run game). Don't get me wrong, you can't just right off the run game, but it should be easier to contain this week especially if Baas or Snee are out. And with a lighter emphasis against the run, George Edwards will finally be able to dial in serious pass rushing plays.