I had written this post a day after the Denver game but never posted it. I was going to criticize our team for employing the 4-3 as our base defense but then I changed my mind. I went back and studied the game on NFL rewind. Even though we do use the 4-3 as our base defense, I saw us use the 5-2, the 4-2(Nickel), 4-1(Dime) and the 46 (which easily converts from the 4-3). This was good to see in addition to seeing more zone coverage from the secondary. Our DB's played a decent game but not as well as our front 4. They are a work in progress. Today our defensive backs will get a real test in both pass and run coverage as the Buffalo Bills like to use 4 & 5 WR sets not only for passing but also for rushing. The Bills like to throw the short slants, ins and outs (which made us look bad against Denver) so we will have to do better in that department today. Our defense will use more of the Nickel and Dime today than last week so I hope they are up to the task. If the Raiders use too much man overage today, I can see Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller having big plays.
On the other side of the ball, I expect us to rely heavily on the run game (no surprise there) and dare the Bills to stop us. In the passing game, since Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy are out and Darrius Heyward-Bey is listed as having a gimpy leg due to a hurt knee, I wont expect to see too many down field passes but rather more short passes and dump off to RB's in the flat. We need Derek Hagan, Chaz Schilens and, Denarius Moore to have big games today. As I stated in a comment to another post today, our O-line will get a good test (especially Samson Satelle, Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes). FYI: After reviewing the Bills/Chiefs game, Marcel Dareus was blowing RG- Jon Asamoah off the line in run plays. Unless Hue Jackson plays Bruce Campbell at that position today, don't expect Cooper Carlisle to do any better. However, if we employ more of a zone blocking scheme when running to the right, that style of play will work better for us up front as Carlisle and Barnes are not power blocking O-linemen.
The Road Ahead
To piggy back off my O-Line comment, 8 of the 13 teams we face this year use a 3-4 defense. Why is this important? It's important because it puts more direct emphasis on improved play at our Center position. I'm not a fan of Samson Satelle but I do have a question. I hear a lot of people saying that Satelle is an undersized center and because of that, we need to upgrade our LG position to lil-Wiz can start at Center. WHY? Both Stefen and Samson are the same height and and there's only about 15 pounds of weight difference. That's not a big difference to support that argument. Now if Wisniewski is just a better Center.....period, but we're only playing him at LG because we don't have a better option there, then ok. Regardless, however, if we are going to make that jump to be a top tier team, our Center, RG and RT positions needed much improved play from the existing guys or they need to be upgraded. We all know that games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage.
If we can get a win today (which I expect us to), we will have great momentum going into our first home game against our second AFC East team, the Jets. IF we lose today, we could very easily be staring down the barrel of a 4 game losing streak before we face the Cleveland Browns in week 6. This CAN NOT happen. By the Bye week, I am expecting (at the least) for us to be 4-3. I believe those losses will come at the hands of the Jets, Patriots and Texans. We haven't proven that we can beat the Texans yet (even though we should have last year) and they have an improved pass defense to go along with their stout run defense. After the Bye week our schedule doesn't get any easier because we face the Chargers for the first time and we all know that the Chargers will be hitting their stride around mid season not mention they have Vincent Jackson back. We also face the entire NFC North who ALL have tough defenses. I see us going 2-2 against that division with wins against the Bears and Vikings (although they will be close wins).
All in all I see going 9-7 on the season, 4-2 in the AFC West, 7-5 in the AFC overall and 2-2 against the NFC North.
Any care to disagree with me?