Top 3 Individual Matchups
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass rush – The Rams have given up the eighth-most sacks in the league thus far (30) and Buffalo’s pass rush is peaking. The Bills have 11 sacks in their last three games and
Best advantage - Run game – Buffalo’s run game is coming off a season-high 232-rushing yard performance and ranks fourth in rushing and fourth in yards per carry average. The Rams rank 13th in the league against the run, but in their last four games they are giving up an average of almost 135 yards on the ground (132.2).
Bills Number 1 Must
Win third down
Much like last week, Buffalo needs to win on both sides of the ball on third down. The Bills run game has to keep the offense in manageable third down situations, and Buffalo’s defense has to make plays on third down no matter the distance knowing St. Louis is last in the league in converting 3rd-and-short (39.1%)and 29th in the league in 3rd-and-medium (29.7%).
The Rams have been very successful on their opening drives in games this season. St. Louis has scored 37 points on their first series through their first 12 games, good for second-most in the league. The Rams have logged four touchdown and three field goal drives on their first possessions.
Sam Bradford has been part of the reason why posting a 112.4 passer rating in the first quarter this season, good for third-best in the NFL.
Field position problems
Short fields have been anything but plentiful for the Rams offense. St. Louis ranks 27th in kick return average and sit 29th in average drive start at just a shade past the 20-yard line (20.4). Their average field position as a whole is their own 24.4 yard line, which is 30th in the league. On the road their average field position is even worse (own 23.4), which is dead last in the NFL.
The defense doesn’t get much help from their special teams either. Opponents average their own 30-yard line for drive starts against the Rams. That puts St. Louis 30th in the league in that category.
Potent pass rush
In 2011 the Rams led the league in sacks surrendered with an eye-popping 55. This year it’s their defense that’s getting to the quarterback. St. Louis has posted 34 sacks on the season good for fourth-best in football. Defensive ends Robert Quinn (8.5) and Chris Long (7) are responsible for almost half of that total. The Rams employ some exotic looks on third downs to create favorable matchups for their top two pass rushers in obvious passing situations.
The St. Louis offense has found points hard to come by for most of the season. Ranked 28th in points per game, the Rams have just 18 offensive touchdowns in 12 games. Only Arizona (17) and Kansas City (15) have fewer. Part of the problem has been their lack of production in the red zone. St. Louis ranks 29th in the league in red zone touchdown percentage. They’re reaching the end zone just over 40 percent of the time (40.7%). The Rams do not have an offensive touchdown in almost six quarters of play.
Kicker has big foot
The Rams kicker is a rookie, but he’s been clutch all season for St. Louis. Greg Zuerlein not only kicked a 53-yard field goal to tie last week’s game against San Francisco as time expired in regulation. He also nailed a 54-yard game winner in overtime for the victory. Now 21-26 on field goal attempts this season, Zuerlein has made seven field goals from 50-yards plus setting an NFL rookie record. He’s also kicked the longest field goal by an NFL rookie in league history connecting on a 60-yarder in Week 4. He’s 7-11 (63.6%) this season from 50-yards plus.
Quote of the Week
“We’ve definitely seen what we’re capable of in spurts this year, but there just needs to be a run of consistently being able to put it together in all three phases, in multiple games in a row. That’s something that we’re looking forward to trying to do.”
Stat of the Week
The Bills are number one in the league in percentage of rushes that go for four yards or more. Buffalo gains four yards or more when they run the ball 52 percent of the time, almost 10 percent above the league average.
Milestones in reach
Ryan Fitzpatrick (76) needs two touchdown passes to pass Jack Kemp (77) for third-most in Bills history.
Mario Williams needs just a half sack to become the first Bills player since 2009 to post a double-digit sack season (Aaron Schobel, 10).
The Rams are 0-3 against the AFC East this season.