Saturday, October 15, 2011

InReeseWeTrust: New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills Week 6 Game Preview

Buffalo Bills (4-1) at New York Giants (3-2), 1pm Eastern at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey
By Ben Kelly - 10/15/11

What happened last week?
Buffalo continued its early season magic last week by defeating Philadelphia at home, 31-24. The Bills climbed to 4-1 despite allowing over 450 yards in each of their last four games, including 489 to the Eagles (who totaled 376 against the Giants). The key for the Bills overcoming their 30th ranked defense is opportunistic play, having forced sixteen turnovers on the season, the second highest total in the NFL. The Bills intercepted two of the league’s best quarterbacks four times each: Tom Brady in week three (30-45, 387 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Michael Vick last week (26-40, 315 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 carries for 90 yards). And for the third consecutive week a Buffalo defender returned an interception for a touchdown. The Bills have 12 interceptions on the season, one more than they totaled last year. While Ryan Fitzpatrick has become the humble star of Buffalo’s offense, the real story is the Bills frustrating opposing quarterbacks into critical mistakes that make up for the league’s third worst defense in yards allowed.

The Bills will win if…
Their defense makes the big plays. Buffalo may be 4-1 and tied for the second best record in the NFL, but their defense is still averaging 479 yards against in its last four contests. The turnover battle is keeping Buffalo alive late in the game en route to two three-point wins and a seven-point margin of victory last week. The Bills can overcome a sieve of a defense with their league leading plus-11 turnover ratio. The Bills are also one of only three teams left that hasn’t coughed up a fumble this season. The other two teams- Detroit (5-0) and New England (4-1)- are grouped among the best teams in the league through five weeks. Fitzpatrick has been key to that fumble statistic, being sacked only three times this season, a league best among starting quarterbacks. Bills quarterbacks were sacked 34 times last season, and another year featuring a patch work offensive line provided a similar outlook. Fitzpatrick’s decision making and quick release have contributed to the improvement, but Buffalo’s line is doing its part in paving the way for the NFL’s fourth best rushing attack while ranking ninth in attempts. Fred Jackson is garnering MVP consideration for his all-purpose production, running for 480 yards and hauling in 19 passes for 232 yards through five games. The Bills have a balanced offense and playmakers on defense to make up for not stopping the ball.

The Giants will win if…
Manning keeps the ball away from Bills’ defenders. Eli threw three picks against Seattle, which ultimately cost the Giants a win, but his last two were tipped and not necessarily the fault of the quarterback. Eli is doing a much better job protecting the ball this season than last year, throwing two picks in his first four games of 2011 as opposed to six last year through four games. This season is Eli’s best yet as a passer, and he threw for 420 yards in last week’s loss. Eli is carrying the offense on his shoulders while the run game stumbles to 31st ranked in yards per attempt and 28th in yards. The run game won’t get a boost this week with Brandon Jacobs and Chris Snee out and David Baas listed as questionable with a neck injury. This game will once again be won or lost on Manning’s arm.

Something’s gotta give…
The Giants are number one in sacks with 18, including 6.5 by Jason Pierre-Paul and 4 from Osi Umenyiora, who is probable. The Bills are number one in sacks against, with four total (three on Fitzpatrick, one on the multipurpose Brad Smith). The matchup that will determine the result is Jason Pierre-Paul versus left tackle Chris Hairston. If you haven’t heard of Chris Hairston, it’s because nobody has. Hairston is a rookie from Clemson taken in the fourth round, who made his first career start against Philadelphia, owners of a formidable pass-rush themselves. Hairston held his own against the Eagles, but that game was played in front of a Buffalo crowd. His first road trip will not be as friendly as Orchard Park, New York. Expect Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora to attack the rookie all game long, and for the defensive ends to wreak havoc on Fitzpatrick, forcing a few turnovers. A strip-sack will end the Bills’ no-fumble streak, and the Giants will win the game via constant pressure on Fitzpatrick and a few big defensive plays of their own. Giants record the upset, 27-23.  

Giants' Umenyiora tells TV talkers to back off injured Tuck

GOT YOUR BACK! Osi Umenyiora (right) came out firing against former teammates Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan for their recent comments regarding Justin Tuck's lack of playing time because of a neck injury.
GOT YOUR BACK! Osi Umenyiora (right) came out firing against former teammates Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan for their recent comments regarding Justin Tuck's lack of playing time because of a neck injury.
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