Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bills have chance to put Eagles out of misery

One more nail in the coffin could bury Philadelphia's hopes for a playoff run this year, and the Bills are holding the hammer.

After a disappointing last-second loss last week that ended the Buffalo's undefeated streak and grounded many fans, the Bills look to rebound in Week 5 at home against the surprisingly slow-starting Eagles.

Opportunities in the run game

The Bengals' defense stalled the Bills' run game last week in a game that saw Fred Jackson get his highest number of touches and lowest number of yards this year. But going up against Philadelphia's 30th-ranked rush defense this week, expect Jackson to get the ball early and often.

“It’s always encouraging when you feel like you can go out and make some plays against the defense,” Jackson told the media Wednesday. “I’m sure that’s something they’re addressing, too. Hopefully we can go out there and make some big plays and it’s what we kind of live on.”

Big plays are what the Eagles' D has lived on as well, leading the league in sacks, so Jackson will likely be dealing with a fair amount of pressure in the backfield.

Bills face tough task in Eagles' secondary

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills’ passing offense will have to deal with a solid cornerback tandem in Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie that has held opposing quarterbacks to a 60 percent completion rate. Asomugha, however, hasn’t been as good as advertised, and Philly has given up a plethora of big plays due to missed tackles.

“This is what you play for to play against some of the best,” Bills' wide receiver Steve Johnson told reporters Wednesday. “These guys have that resume that proves it and it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Short passes and catch-and-run plays may be the best bet for Fitzpatrick, who has seldom thrown the ball deep (13 completions of 20-plus yards) and is going against a secondary that mostly shut down the deep threat thus far.

“If you look at it, there hadn’t been a lot of downfield balls completed on them,” Fitzpatrick told the media Wednesday. “It’s tough to get these guys deep. We’ve got to play within ourselves and not really adjust to what they’re doing.”

Vick still on the run

Quarterback Michael Vick, still dealing with an injury to his non-throwing hand, is listed as probable going into Buffalo, but on all accounts will be behind center to start the game. In typical fashion, Vick has kept a lot of plays alive for the Eagles with his legs, particularly last week in their loss to the 49ers, when he rushed for 75 yards on eight carries.

“You have to be disciplined,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said Wednesday. “You can’t let him out of the pocket. You can’t go running up inside and let him bail out and get him on the corner.”

Being only 71 yards shy of former Eagles' quarterback Randall Cunningham's all-time NFL rushing record could play a factor as well for Vick if he's flushed out of the pocket, though the quarterback emphasized Wednesday that his main focus is getting out of Buffalo with a win.

“Man, if I could break the record and get a win it would be so sweet,” Vick said. “So you know, we’ll get that win and we’ll let that come. One game at a time, one play at a time, we’ll see what happens.”

Notes: The Bills have lost their last two meetings against the Eagles and haven't played Philly since 2007; The Eagles have been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter the last three games; Philly is fifth in the league in third-down conversions at nearly 50 percent; Enjoy the warm weather in Buffalo while it lasts, game-time forecast is sunny, mid-70s in Orchard Park.