Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Rams at Bills


The Buffalo Bills put together one of their most complete performances of the season last week, albeit against a weaker Jacksonville Jaguars squad.

The team's task at hand this week is a bit more ominous, however, with a St. Louis Rams unit coming off an exciting OT victory against the 49ers and still touting a pretty strong defensive front. The Bills' defense has looked pretty good as well the past few weeks, and the key to this matchup may be which squad shows up on Sunday. (photo: Kris Robinson, Flickr)


Running away with the offense. The Bills are coming off a 232-yard game on the ground, the duo's best performance of the season. Buffalo's “backup” running back Fred Jackson showed he's anything but, putting together a 100-yard rushing game and averaging more than 4 yards a carry. Spiller was strong as well despite the drop in touches, and the two will look to rip up a rushing defense that's allowed more than 100 yards on the ground four out of the last five games.

Battered up front. Buffalo lost center Eric Wood and tackle Chris Hairston to injury this week, making the list of banged up offensive lineman a bit longer for the Bills. While the team shuffled around its roster to assess its needs on the line, the real question will be whether those players step in and perform with the same success the Bills' line has seen all season. Sam Young will get his first career start at tackle for Hairston, and Kraig Urbik will likely fill in for Wood, with David Snow in the mix, as well.

Getting a leg up. Whether you want to call him “Greg the leg” or “Legatron,” Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein has put up some pretty impressive number this year, and was the grand finale in the team's overtime thriller last week against San Fran. Zuerlein has nailed seven field goals from 50 yards or more so far this season, including a 60-yarder in Week 4 against Seattle. St. Louis relies on him for clutch points in combination with its stingy defense, and Buffalo will need to keep his foot out of range if the game gets close down the stretch.

Third down. The Rams' offense has been downright deplorable on third down this year, converting just over 32 percent of the time. If there is any time to step up, however, it's against Buffalo's unit, whose third-down percentage is third worst in the league and has seen even more signs of cracking. Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay hit the Injured Reserve list this week, which leaves the banged up pass rush even more porous and puts more pressure on the remaining starters to carry the successes of the past few weeks. Mario Williams will be one to watch this weekend, having snagged five sacks in the past three games.