The Raiders and Bills tilt this weekend will be a perfect test for Buffalo. If y'all caught Oakland's monday night game, you saw an EXTREMELY physical defensive line with every kind of strength a DLine can have. They have speed rushers in Kamerion Wimbleyand Jarvis Moss, a space-eater in Tommy Kelly, tenacious pursuit players in Lamar Houston and Matt Shaughnessy, and one of the best all-around defensive linemen in the game in Richard Seymore. The front was dominant against a not-so-spectacular Broncos line, showing some of the most violent hand use I've seen in long, long time. They also have very talented and athletic linebackers behind them in Quentin Groves and Rolando McClain. We'll see if Gailey was able to find the right amount of physicality in Buffalo's front 5 as the Raiders will surely try to set the tone early with bullying and intimidation.
The Raiders are also the perfect test for Buffalo's newfound run defense, as they were twice as productive on the ground than through the air, which has been their modus of operandi for the past few years. Buffalo's defense appears VERY assignment-sound this season in their run fits, so this game is going to be a battle of toughness and will.
A little more analysis after "the jump" (sorry I think the jump is cool)
I firmly believe Buffalo will have a difficult time running the ball this Sunday. Oakland sends a very agressive defensive line and they send them in very energetic rotations. If the Bills are to have success it will be at the 2nd level of the Raiders' D. Thier linebackers are athletic, but McClain is the only sure tackler and playmaker. I think some draws, delays, screens, and running out of the spread would be a prudent game plan to neutralize an ultra agressive front 4. Perhaps, most importantly, is going to be the commitment to the run. At times, Gailey will tend to abandon the run when it isn't working, but putting blocks on these guys for 4 quarters may prove the difference in the game.
On the other side of the ball the Bills have to find a way to kill 190 yards of rushing that the Broncos gave up last week. The Raiders' offensive line is not a mismatch for Buffalo's front 7, but Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are a mismatch for any NFL front 7. They are literally the quintessence of a "thunder and lightning" one-two-punch (to abuse as many cliches as possible). Throughout the preseason and week 1, the Bills have been very diligent with their run fits and gap assignments. The plays they gave up in the running game have just been cases of their athletes getting the better of our athletes, which happens in sports. The key to winning this game, will be tackling, tackling, tackling. That means especially George Wilson, Bryan Scott, and Nick Barnett. Now, Barnett has been a ridiculously consistent tackler. Scott and Wilson have been adequate, but they will have to play above their current level to stop this tandem.
Some other interesting match-ups...
Leodis McKelvin vs. Derius Heyward-Bey (two absolute lightning bolts going at it)
Chan Gailey's spread vs. Raiders' secondary (Fitz will have pressure in his face all day, I expect quick passes to start the game to make their DL get hifgher in their stance to read the plays)
Kamerion Wimbley vs. Eric Pears and Demetrius Bell (Wimbley is a pure speed rusher and is more athletic than both tackles, both of which will be relying on snap counts and their size to get ahead of him. Pears particulary needs to work on his protection on those wide rushes where he is slow to get his feet set up for the right blocking angle)
One thing's for certain... the more physical team wins. If they match each other in that department, then I believe Buffalo has the talent edge and home-field advantage, I like our chances.