Top 3 Individual Matchups
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good Advantage – Pass rush – Although Buffalo has struggled to get consistent pressure and lost
Best Advantage – Return game – The Bills could really use a field position edge in this game and their kick and punt returners should be able to provide it.
Bills Number 1 Must
Run game – The Bills have to rediscover their ground game, but it will be no easy task against the league’s fourth-best run defense.
Home field edge
The Cardinals are closing in on a franchise mark when it comes to winning on their home field at University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona has won their last eight home games dating back to last season. If they post a win this Sunday it would tie a franchise best. Against AFC opponents the Cardinals are also an impressive 9-2 at home under head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Run game struggles
Arizona’s top two running backs are both on injured reserve in Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams. Williams was lost just last week with a season-ending shoulder injury. Even with those two in their lineup the Cardinals have been unsuccessful running the football managing just over 63 yards per game (63.4). The Cards’ rushing attack will now take a committee approach with William Powell forecast to see the lion’s share of the work with LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith as complementary players.
Pass protection has been a major problem for Arizona’s offensive unit, particularly in the last two games. The Cardinals surrendered 17 of their 23 sacks this season in two most recent outings with eight registered by the Dolphins and nine by the Rams. So far this season Kevin Kolb has been pressured on over 40 percent of his drop backs according to ProFootballFocus good for third highest in the NFL. Arizona ranks last in the league in sacks allowed per pass play.
Three-time Pro Bowl DT Darnell Dockett is still dealing with a hamstring injury sustained in Week 3 against Philadelphia. It forced him to miss the Miami game in Week 4. He returned to play last week against the Rams, but only played 20 of the 71 plays the Cardinals had on defense. He was still limited in practice this week and might not be himself. Dockett is the primary playmaker up front for Arizona. When Dockett was out of the lineup the Dolphins rolled up 480 yards of offense and 6.5 yards per play. In their other four games with Dockett in the lineup the opposing offenses averaged 4.36 yards per play.
Red zone road block
The Cardinals are a solid defense to begin with when it comes to points allowed (15.6 ppg, 5th), but they rank even higher when they’re defending their red zone. Arizona is second in the league in red zone defense allowing just three touchdowns on 12 red zone opportunities by their opponents this season. The 25 percent success rate of their opponents inside the 20 is second best in the league. In fact Arizona has allowed just six touchdowns in five games, tied for the lowest total in the NFL.
Close games are nothing new for the Cardinals, and apparently winning them isn’t either. Last year Arizona posted a franchise best eight wins by seven points or less. Three of their first four games this season have also been tight with the Cards winning all three. Since the start of last season 16 of Arizona’s 21 games played have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Cardinals have an 11-5 record in those games.
Quote of the week
“I think that has to come from within the players. I think you develop that through having some success and putting them in positions where they can succeed, but again I think it’s got to come from within each one of those guys that we’re going to put a stop to this and not let it happen. We played well in the first half of both these last two games. We’ve really gotten blown out in the second half and somebody has got to step up and stop that.”
--Bills GM Buddy Nix on where mental toughness must come from
Stat of the week
Fred Jackson has five 100-yard rushing games in his past seven against NFC opponents.
Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson needs 133 rushing yards to become the fourth back in team annals to reach 4,000 rushing yards.
Leodis McKelvin needs 40 kick return yards to move into third place in team history (Eric Moulds – 2,126).
The Bills are 2-0 when they give up 20 points or less this season. The Cardinals average 18.8 points per game.