1 - Bills tasked with ending Saints six-game winning streak
This week the Buffalo Bills will prepare to face the New Orleans Saints. The NFC South opponent comes to New Era Field on Sunday riding a six-game winning streak. Their last loss dates back to Sep.17, and it came at the hands of the New England Patriots. A win would boost the Bills to 6-3 and avoid a common opponent victory for the Patriots come playoff time.
Buffalo's head coach, Sean McDermott, is more than familiar with facing New Orleans. During his six-year stint as defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers he faced the Saints twice each season. Over those years McDermott managed to have a record of 7-5 against them.
"Another good opponent, home game for us, and certainly an elite quarterback," he said. "I've had a chance to go against them for a number of years in Carolina in the division there and know what coach [Sean] Payton and Drew Brees bring to the table. Big-time challenge and very good opponent."
Brees, the Saints quarterback, has played well this season at the age of 38. He's completed 175 of 248 passes for 1951 yards. That's 271 yards per game, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. Brees also has 11 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a passer rating of 101.7.
Over the course of New Orleans winning streak they're blowing teams out. During those six games they've outscored opponents 182-90. That's an average of 30.3 points per game.
Last season the Saints biggest flaw was on the defensive side of the ball. This season they have a strong secondary and it's showing on the stat sheet. Their defense has 11 takeaways on nine interceptions and two fumbles. New Orleans nine interceptions this season is already more than they recorded last season.
The Saints have all sorts of momentum coming to Orchard Park, and for good reason. The Bills are perfect at home this season and don't take defending their dirt lightly. Something has to give in this Week 10 matchup.
2 - How will Buffalo bounce back from adversity?
Prior to Thursday Night Football both of Buffalo's losses were one possession games. That wasn't the case against the New York Jets, as they were well behind all night and finally fell 34-21. It's by far the Bills most lopsided loss this season. Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints will show how this year's Buffalo Bills handle adversity.
An area of promise has been the Bills passion for tackling. Through the first seven games missed tackles weren't an issue. In the Jets game it was uncharacteristic seeing all the unfinished plays. The defense will need to clean that up against a high octane New Orleans offense.
"It's one of those deals where if you don't stay on it every week in practice every day, and I'm not saying we didn't, it's just, it rears its ugly head just like other fundamentals," Sean McDermott said. "This game is so fundamentally-based. In order to play well on defense and special teams, you have to tackle well and then you have to use your hands to get off blocks. It's a game of [what] they call hand violence and you've got to be able to play with your hands on both sides of the ball."
The film from the Jets game was probably far from that for the coaching staff. For McDermott, it's all a part of the process. Buffalo's 5-3 entering the second half of the season and will use Thursday night's imperfections to grow as the year progresses.
"Sometimes you have to go through adversity to grow," McDermott said. "That's the most important thing that we can focus on and control right now, is what we do with it. We have to continue to learn and grow and use this to make us into a better, stronger football moving forward."
3 - Taylor's terrific three-game stretch since the bye week
Bills quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, is having himself a solid season in his third year as the team's starter. He has been playing exceptionally well the past three games, and coincidentally that's when Buffalo came off their bye week.
Since the Bills break in Week Six they're 2-1 and Taylor's a big reason for that. Here's how he fared during those games.
In Week Seven the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came to town. Taylor completed 20 of 33 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 96.5 for the game.
The Oakland Raiders visited the Bills in Week Eight. Taylor again completed 20 passes on only 27 attempts. He threw one touchdown and had a passer rating of 101.6.
Against the New York Jets in Week Nine the offense was under duress all night. Somehow Taylor was able to wiggle around enough to muster some impressive numbers. He completed a season-high 29 passes on 40 attempts for 285 yards. The Bills signal-caller tossed two touchdowns and recorded a passer rating of 108.9.
Taylor has a very respectable touchdown to interception ratio. He's thrown 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions this season. When the quarterback takes the field this Sunday it will mark over a month since he threw an interception.
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