BBD Staff Writer: Mike Watkins
1.Long Day Ahead: This is going to be the case for the Bills OL vs what is arguably the best front 7 in the NFL today (Its them or Houston, but that’s a debate for another day). The 49ers front 7 is big, fast, and relentless. What’s making this matchup even tougher is the Bills had two key injuries along the front line against the Patriots. The more critical one was to C.Glenn who was playing very good for a rookie until that injury.
He would have been a good match up against the 49ers because of his physical style of play. The Bills however, for once in what seems like a decade, actually have some depth along the OL and Hairston will get the nod at LT for the Bills. The good news is he has starts under his belt at LT, the bad news is he is going up against one of the two best defenses in the NFL for his first start in 2012.
2.The TE Dilemma: The Bills in recent history have had big problems with teams with elite TE’s. For some reason no matter the type of defense or the coordinator calling the plays the Bills seemed to get abused by elite TE’s. They can never find the right matchup or scheme to control them. This week they again face one in V.Davis for the 49ers. Now what cant happen is this nearly every down Nickel defense approach with B.Scott on the field for LB the vast majority of plays because the 49ers have a very good running game and they will go off if we employ this strategy again. Right now, I think the Bills need to consider putting Barnett on Davis with over the top help or putting Gilmore or A.Williams on him. Something different has to be done or the result will likely be worse than what we saw last week
3.Matchup: The Bills defense and the 49ers offense, outside of the TE position for them, is actually a decent one for the Bills. They have a big physical OL that likes to run block far more than it likes to pass block and our DL actually matches up well for them pound for pound. Also when Sheppard is manning the middle of the field in our base defense the Bills have become a lot better at stopping the run then the current stats would indicate. The Bills secondary also matches up very well with the 49ers WR’s. The game might end up being closer than people think.
4.Overaggressive: If there is one area the Bills really need to exploit its that the 49ers secondary can get exposed on double moves due to their aggressive style of play. The Bills WR’s need to be able to exploit this but their routes have to be crisp, sloppy routes and lazy moves will not do it in this game. Stevie Johnson should be able to have a big game because a lot of his success is based on his unorthodox route running style that often is very successful against aggressive DB’s
5.The Reality: No matter how you look at it the Bills are going to have to be near perfect in this game to pull it out. The Bills have some key injuries, the Bills have never really had to much luck on the West Coast, and to be frank the 49ers are one of the top 5 teams in the league and The Bills are playing them on their home turf. The DL and the defense cannot be a no show like they were in the second half against the Patriots last week. The offense and especially Fitzpatrick have to limit the number of short drives because the 49ers will grind down the Bills defense the longer they are out there. Fitzpatrick also has to be on top of his game and cannot be erratic in his accuracy the way he has been through the first 4 weeks of the year. Its not an impossible task to beat the 49ers as the Vikings showed a couple weeks ago, but you had better bring your A game in all phases if you plan to pull off an upset.