Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – DeSean Jackson vs.
2 – Jason Babin vs.
3 – Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Stevie Johnson – Johnson is healthier than he’s been in a few weeks, but will need to really fight for the ball against the long-limbed Asomugha, one of the best man-to-man defenders in the game.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Run game – As a team the Bills rank fifth in rushing and
Best advantage – Red zone offense – Though Buffalo’s offense sputtered a bit last week in Cincinnati they’re still the second best offense in the league when it comes to scoring touchdowns in the red zone. The Bills have scored on 12 of their 16 possessions inside their opponent’s 20-yard line. The Eagles defense meanwhile is dead last in red zone defense allowing touchdowns at an alarming rate of 80 percent.
Bills Number 1 Must
Third down conversions – Buffalo’s offense has slipped in recent weeks when it comes to converting on third down with just 8 conversions in their last 25 attempts. Their percentage will need to be between 40 and 50 percent to consistently put points on the board, while also keeping Michael Vick and company on the sidelines. The Eagles defense isn’t bad ranking 12th in the NFL in third down defense.
Philadelphia’s defensive line has been nicked up for a few weeks now and it only got worse this past week. The Eagles lost starting right defensive end Trent Cole to a calf injury suffered last Sunday. Backup DT Antonio Dixon (torn triceps) was lost for the season prompting them to sign Derek Landri this week. With reserve DE Juqua Parker (high ankle sprain) not looking good for Sunday, the Eagles will be down to seven healthy defensive linemen, though they’ll still have the league’s leading pass rusher in Jason Babin (7 sacks).
Big play parade
While Philadelphia’s offense is certainly capable of making big plays, the Eagles defense has been susceptible to surrendering them. Poor tackling has been a big reason why they’ve allowed the most combined big plays (run and pass) in the NFL thus far this season. Juan Castillo’s unit has allowed 36 big plays in the first four games including 11 pass plays of 25 yards or more and 18 run plays of 10 yards or more. Last week alone they surrendered five plays of 30 yards or more.
Buffalo’s offense in turn has produced 10 pass plays of 25 yards or more and 15 runs of 10 plus yards.
The forgotten man
Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson grab most of the headlines for Philadelphia’s offense due mainly to their highlight reel type plays. The forgotten man in the Eagles attack is receiver Jeremy Maclin. Very quietly Maclin leads the team in receptions (26 – T-3rd in NFL), receiving yards (334) and is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns (2). An indication as to the type of game he can put together was seen in Week 2 at Atlanta when he posted 13 catches for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Coughing it up
For the Eagles ball security has been an issue. Through four games Philadelphia is tied for third most fumbles with nine, having lost five of them. Add in their five interceptions and they’re tied for second most giveaways in the league behind only Pittsburgh and Denver (11). With their defense having limited success in forcing turnovers (4) the Eagles rank 30th in the league with a minus-6 turnover ratio.
Fourth quarter fizzle
Philadelphia ranks 10th in the league in points per game, but part of the reason for the Eagles’ 1-3 record has been their inability to finish games. They’ve managed just a single touchdown in the fourth quarter through the first quarter of the season. Those seven points are second lowest in the league to only Jacksonville, which has managed only a field goal in the final stanza of their four games this season.
In fact, in their last three games Philadelphia has been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter.
In contrast, Buffalo’s offense ranks second in the league in fourth quarter points with 48.
Surrendering 2nd half leads
The Bills let a 14-point halftime lead slip away last week in a last second loss to the Bengals, but Philadelphia has blown leads each of the last three weeks to drop three straight games. They had a 10-point second half lead in Week 2 at Atlanta (31-21) and lost by four. They had a two-point second half lead in Week 3 against the Giants and lost by 13. And last week they had a 20-point second half lead against the 49ers and lost by one.
Quote of the Week
“Every practice you’ve got to prepare for being the guy. If you’re on the active roster you’re only a snap away from playing. There’s only 47 guys out there, so you know your team will call on you and count on you at some point. With me it came a little earlier than I thought, but I’m going to be ready for it. Got to be ready for it.”
--OT Chris Hairston on his first NFL start Sunday
Stat of the Week
Buffalo’s defense is tied for best in the NFL with eight interceptions.
Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson needs 72 yards from scrimmage to pass Travis Henry for ninth on the team’s all-time list.
Fred Jackson is averaging 7.1 yards per carry at home in 2011 (27 carries, 191 yards).