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Bills-Rams Preview

The Buffalo Bills are off to their best start since Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith were leading them to four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s.

The St. Louis Rams are desperately seeking to recapture a taste of their glory days, but are nowhere close.

Buffalo looks to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1992 on Sunday when it visits a Rams team hoping a quarterback switch can help reverse a dreadful first three weeks.

The Bills (3-0) are coming off three consecutive losing seasons and haven't made the playoffs this decade, but they appear to be jelling in 2008. Buffalo is off to its best start since the 1992 club won its first four games en route to an 11-5 finish and the third of four straight Super Bowl appearances.

The winning continued - albeit not without a scare - last Sunday at home against Oakland. The Bills trailed for most of the first three quarters but mounted a furious rally with 17 points in the fourth, capped by Rian Lindell's 38-yard field goal as time expired to give them a 24-23 victory.

"We keep them close, don't we?" Bills owner Ralph Wilson said. "You know what, I'm speechless."

Before this season, though, Buffalo was frequently on the losing end of close scores. The Bills suffered a pair of one-point losses to Denver and Dallas in 2007, with both games decided on last-second field goals.

"It shows the chemistry and character of this team," said Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay, a sixth-year veteran who had a sack and a forced fumble against the Raiders. "Since I've been here, I've been on the other side of this situation many times, but this year's there's just something different about this team to find a way to get it done."

Trent Edwards proved instrumental in getting the job done last Sunday. The second-year quarterback out of Stanford completed 24 of 39 passes for 279 yards, going 14-for-19 for 182 yards and a touchdown on the final three drives that produced Buffalo's 17 points in the fourth.

Another 2007 draft selection from the Bay Area, running back Marshawn Lynch, rushed for 83 yards and two scores. The Oakland native and former University of California star has found the end zone in each game this season and in 10 of his 16 career games.

The young offensive duo has helped the Bills take the early lead in the AFC East, a division which looks open for the taking with New England quarterback Tom Brady out for the season with a knee injury. Buffalo is the first team other than the Patriots to lead the AFC East since Week 4 of 2005, when Miami was 2-1 and New England was 2-2.

While a young quarterback named Trent is leading the Bills back to prominence, the Rams (0-3) this week turn in desperation to 38-year-old veteran Trent Green.

Green was slated to be the starter for St. Louis in 1999, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final preseason game. Kurt Warner took over and led the Rams to their only Super Bowl title. Green returned to appear in eight games for a Rams team that went 10-6 in 2000, and is now back in St. Louis after six years in Kansas City and one in Miami.

With Mark Bulger under center, this year's Rams have scored an anemic 29 points, making them the only NFC team with fewer than 50. On Tuesday, beleaguered coach Scott Linehan - 11-24 in his third season with the Rams - issued a terse, two-paragraph release announcing the quarterback change.

"I think we'd be crazy if we didn't try something different because what we've done for the first three weeks is not working," the coach said in his Monday press conference.

Indeed, nothing has worked for the Rams in 2008. Their defense has given up a league-high 116 points to complement the woeful offense. All three of their losses have been by 24 points or more, including last week's 37-13 defeat at previously winless Seattle.

Running back Steven Jackson was a relative bright spot in the rout, accounting for 128 yards of offense - more than half the team's total of 240. Jackson, though, has struggled to find running room behind an offensive line that has allowed 11 sacks, managing 3.2 yards per carry - a full yard lower than his 2007 average.

The Bills won their only visit to St. Louis, 45-27 on Dec. 10, 1995. Buffalo has won four of the last five meetings between these teams overall to gain a 5-4 edge in the all-time series.

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