STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
RB C.J. Spiller has two career kickoff returns for touchdowns, last week against Miami and in his rookie season of 2010. He has also moved up to seventh all-time on the Bills rushing list with 3,143 yards.
WR Sammy Watkins' eight-catch performance against Miami tied for the fourth-best by a Bills rookie in team history. He leads all NFL rookie receivers with 11 catches through two weeks.
EJ Manuel has three straight games in which his quarterback rating was above 90.0, dating to 2013, the first Bills quarterback to do that since Drew Bledsoe in 2002.
RB Anthony Dixon recorded the first blocked punt of his NFL career in the win over Miami.
DE Mario Williams now has 25.5 sacks since joining the Bills in 2012, and 14.5 have come on third-down plays.
MLB Brandon Spikes played only 19 percent of the defensive snaps against Miami because the Bills were so frequently in nickel or dime defense.
K Dan Carpenter leads the NFL in scoring with 28 points. He has made eight field goals, including a career-high-tying five in the win over Miami.
LB Keith Rivers, who sat out the Miami game with a groin injury, was on the practice field Wednesday and will probably be listed as questionable for the San Diego game.
WR Robert Woods sustained some type of ankle injury in practice Wednesday and was a limited participant. His status for the game is unknown.
LB Randell Johnson was the lone Bill who did not practice in any form as he battles a knee injury.
FS Jonathan Meeks was placed on the injured reserve list with a neck injury that had sidelined him since the middle of the preseason.
DT Stefan Charles is battling a sore hip and he was limited in practice.
TE Lee Smith, who has missed the first two games, returned to full practice Wednesday.
Even before the Chargers lost running back Ryan Matthews to a knee injury, they were having a tough time running in their two games against Arizona and Seattle. The Chargers are last in the NFL in yards per attempt at 2.5, and with Matthews out, the burden falls to Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown, neither of whom are known as lead backs. The Bills have been stout against the run so far, and San Diego's lack of a ground game should help the Bills pass rush because it knows Philip Rivers will be relying on the pass game. Look for the Bills to play a lot of nickel, meaning middle linebacker Brandon Spikes probably won't be much of a factor.
On offense, it's the exact opposite for Buffalo. It will try to run against the Chargers who rank second-to-last in yards allowed per rush at 5.6. C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, and Anthony Dixon should get plenty of work against a defense that can be occasionally gouged. When the Bills throw, they must find a way to neutralize the edge rush of Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney, both of whom had sacks against Russell Wilson of Seattle last week. EJ Manuel has played two efficient games, and he will try to keep rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins involved. Watkins had eight catches for 117 yards and a TD against Miami.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Bills SS Da'Norris Searcy vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates. The Bills do not have linebackers who are adept in pass coverage, and this is a matchup that will present them difficulties. They will likely commit Searcy to pay close attention to Gates, who is coming off a game where he caught three touchdown passes against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks and their accomplished secondary. Searcy is often the in-the-box defensive back in Buffalo's run defense, but the Chargers may not run too often without Ryan Matthews, so asking Searcy to shadow Gates may be a little easier, at least in theory, to do.
Bills DT Marcell Dareus vs. Chargers C Rich Ohrnberger. San Diego lost starting center Nick Hardwick for the season in the opener, and Ohrnberger had to step in against the Seahawks. He graded out pretty well, but the Chargers didn't get much done in the running game. The Bills have Dareus and Kyle Williams in the middle of their line, and they will present a big challenge for Ohrnberger and San Diego's interior. If the Chargers can't run, the Bills should be able to get some pass rush on Philip Rivers which won't allow him to pick and choose where he wants to go with the ball.