All week, we've talked about how the Oakland Raiders - whom the Buffalo Bills will host in Week 2 at Ralph Wilson Stadium 24 hours from now - are trying to build a bully. On both sides of the line of scrimmage, head coach Hue Jackson wants to out-physical teams on a weekly basis, from operating a power rushing attack to fielding a big, physical and active defensive line.
It's controlling that defensive line - described by Rich Langford of SilverAndBlackPride.com as the "heart and soul" of the Raiders - that should be atop the Bills' keys to victory tomorrow afternoon.
After the jump, we'll take a quick peek at some scheming notes worth mentioning regarding this matchup, then take a look at what the Bills might be able to accomplish should they pull off this large feat.
Given that the Bills operate offensively predominantly out of three- and four-receiver sets - and that's unlikely to change against Oakland - you're likely to see a lineup change for the Raiders. Lamarr Houston typically starts at defensive end for Oakland, but as they're likely to be in nickel and dime packages for the majority of the day, it's more likely that Kamerion Wimbley will play most of the game with his hand in the dirt, while Houston will slide inside and rush the passer from the defensive tackle position - or simply spell starters both at end and tackle.
It's a minor lineup change, but one worth noting simply because it makes Oakland a more dangerous pass rushing team. Between Wimbley and the vastly underrated Matt Shaughnessy, the Raiders have an outstanding one-two punch in the pass rush - and that's even before considering their excellent defensive tackles, Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. Insofar as pass-rushing front fours go, Oakland's ranks right up there with the league's elite.
Behind that front, however, the Raiders boast a good - but susceptible - pass defense with weak coverage linebackers and predicated largely on playing man coverage. Chan Gailey's offense is highly reliant not only on beating defenses quickly - i.e. getting the ball out of Ryan Fitzpatrick's hands and into his playmakers' - but doing so with route combinations that can beat both man and zone coverages. Expect that trend to lean a bit more in the direction of man tomorrow, with more slants mixed into the equation.
Buffalo's receivers - Stevie Johnson in particular - are highly capable of beating man coverage. Fitzpatrick is capable of quickly dissecting coverages and getting the ball out of his hand. The Bills should be able to move the ball effectively through the air, but only if they can control the point of attack long enough to keep Fitzpatrick upright. That's far, far easier said than done.
This task goes beyond the Bills' much-maligned (up until last weekend) starting offensive line. Blocking tight ends Scott Chandler and David Martin, as well as starting running back Fred Jackson and perhaps even fullback Corey McIntyre, will have roles to play on this front, as well. It's a huge test, and one the Bills must pass if they hope to win.