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Lions-Bills Preview

Posted Nov 13, 2010

In 2008, the Detroit Lions became the first team to go winless during a 16-game season.

Halfway to joining them in that dubious distinction, the Buffalo Bills will look to take advantage of Detroit playing without Matthew Stafford on Sunday despite dealing with many key injuries of their own.

Buffalo (0-8) has been agonizingly close to breaking into the win column the last three weeks, but remains the league's only team without a victory.

After overtime losses at Baltimore and Kansas City, the Bills fell 22-19 to Chicago in Toronto last Sunday, blowing a five-point lead in the fourth quarter as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions - one in the final minute.

The first of those picks and Fred Jackson's fumble in the third quarter led to Bears touchdowns, and Buffalo suffered a third straight three-point loss despite outgaining Chicago 340-283.

"It's tough. We're fighting. You could see it out there," said Steve Johnson, who had 11 catches for 145 yards. "I don't know what to say. It's just not happening in the end."

Johnson has 340 receiving yards in the past three games and five TDs in his last six, but he'll get even more attention from opposing defenses now that Roscoe Parrish is out for the season. Parrish has a career-high 400 yards receiving, second on the team to Johnson (554), but broke his wrist Sunday.

Parrish's injury wasn't the only difficult news this week. Buffalo announced that linebacker Andra Davis will be out for the year with a nagging shoulder injury that kept him out of two games, including the loss to Chicago.

The injury to Davis, who has 41 tackles, leaves a big hole in a Buffalo defense which already is allowing a league-high 29.1 points per game. The Bills have the sixth-best defense against the pass, allowing 193.4 yards per game, but they're giving up 265.8 in the last four.

They also will be without Shawne Merriman, who was claimed off waivers last week and hoped to make his Bills debut Sunday but left Wednesday's practice with a lower right leg injury and was declared out Thursday.

Merriman was a star linebacker in his first three years with San Diego, but had been slowed by injuries over the last two-plus seasons.

As the Bills shuffle their defensive lineup, they'll be preparing to face Detroit's backup quarterback.

The Lions (2-6) said that barring any setbacks, they'll start Shaun Hill this week after Stafford suffered a shoulder injury in a 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets last Sunday.

Hill broke his arm against the New York Giants on Oct. 17 after taking over when Stafford suffered his first shoulder injury. In six games, Hill has thrown for 1,309 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 61.1 percent of his passes.

"It feels good," Hill told the Lions' official website. "I'm full-go."

Hill will look to help the Lions bounce back after last weekend's heartbreaker. The Jets scored 10 points in the final 2:46 of regulation, tying the game on a 36-yard field goal as time expired. Earlier, Detroit missed an extra point when rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh filled in for injured kicker Jason Hanson and the ball hit the upright.

"This is the worst loss ever, I think in my 10 years," said center Dominic Raiola, whose record with the franchise is 35-117 since 2001.

It appears Hanson won't be available this week, and the team signed David Raymer to likely handle the kicking duties.

Last Sunday was especially frustrating for Calvin Johnson, who had 247 receiving yards and four touchdowns in the previous two games, but struggled to shake coverage and was held to one catch for 13 yards.

This is the first meeting between these teams since Detroit's 20-17 win in 2006.