Top 3 Individual Matchups
3 – Stevie Johnson vs. Josh Wilson – Johnson has a decided size advantage over Wilson, who is nursing a hamstring injury. Wilson is expected to have a safety rolled over the top a good portion of the game in an effort to prevent the big play.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Kick coverage – The Bills have had to cover more kickoffs than most NFL teams, and still have a top five unit allowing less than 20 yards a return (19.7). Washington has not had a ton of success bringing it out ranking 20th in the league providing their offense with an average drive start of their own 21-yard line.
Best advantage – Pass defense – Yes, Buffalo has been beaten for big plays, but the Bills secondary is facing a very green receiving corps outside of Jabar Gaffney, along with a quarterback in John Beck that is still trying to get his timing down with his wideouts after just one start. Knowing the Bills propensity for the takeaway (12 INTs) this figures to be a big edge for Buffalo.
Bills Number 1 Must
Run game – Fred Jackson has been an MVP-like performer thus far this season. Buffalo ranks fourth in the league in rushing, and an effective ground game can help to keep Washington’s potent pass rush from getting aggressive if it can keep the Bills offense out of obvious passing situations on third down.
Green receiving corps
With Santana Moss out for the foreseeable future with a broken hand that required surgery, there isn’t a ton of experience in Washington’s receiving corps. That doesn’t help John Beck, who is making just his second start for the Redskins Sunday. Jabar Gaffney is the only proven threat. Anthony Armstrong can beat defenses deep, but hasn’t produced like he did last season. Rookies Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul along with second-year man Terrence Austin will be used to try to replace Moss by committee. Donte Stallworth is on the roster, but is fighting a hamstring injury.
The same Fletch?
Former Bills MLB London Fletcher has never missed a game in his 14-year career. However, he pulled a hamstring in the second half last week, left the game and did not return, a rarity in and of itself. He did not practice on Wednesday and was limited Thursday. He's supposed to start on Sunday, but it’s hard to think he’ll be 100 percent for the game. It'll be interesting to see if the injury affects his range out on the field
Nicked up secondary
Washington’s defensive backfield is a collection of walking wounded entering Sunday’s game. Starting FS O.J. Atogwe missed last week’s game with a knee injury and is questionable for this week’s game. Starting cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall (hip) and Josh Wilson (hamstring) are also nursing injuries and their backups Byron Westbrook (hamstring) and Phillip Buchanon (neck/knee) are coming off injuries. Only three of Washington’s nine defensive backs are healthy, which is not good against a Bills offense that likes to go four and five wide often.
Knocking it loose
Most everyone knows how effective the Redskins have been in getting to the quarterback as they’re tied for the league lead in sacks with 21 in just six games. But Washington has been just as effective in jarring the ball loose from ball carriers. The Redskins have forced nine fumbles this season second only to Baltimore’s 13. Rookie Ryan Kerrigan (2) and Brian Orakpo (2) are responsible for four of them.
John Beck got his first start with the Redskins last week and went 22-37 for 279 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a touchdown and was sacked three times in the Redskins 33-20 loss to Carolina. Beck is good at diagnosing defensive coverages and generally makes good decisions with the ball, but can hesitate at times. Limited work with the starting unit has Beck still working on his timing with his receivers, but he’s mobile and can throw accurately on the move. He doesn’t always throw a tight ball, but wind won’t be a factor in the Rogers Centre.
Haz getting creative
Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has thrown some pretty exotic looks at opposing offenses in third down passing situations. Whether it’s blitzing cornerbacks, safeties, linebackers or putting an unconventional personnel grouping on the field, it’s worked. The Redskins have the second best third down defense in football as they’re allowing opponents to convert just 31 percent of the time.
Quote of the Week
“I think we’ve got some good young guys who can get out there and blitz and come off that edge, so we’ll see what happens. But we definitely have to get to the passer, that’s a must. So we’re going to work on that and try to get it fixed.”
Stat of the Week
The Bills do not have a lost fumble thus far this season making them the only team in the league that hasn’t turned the ball over on the ground in 2011.
Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson needs one touchdown to match a single-season best of seven set in 2010.
The Bills have won the last five meetings with the Redskins by an average of 14.8 points per game. Their last loss to Washington was in Super Bowl XXVI.