Here's the Bills news of note for Dec. 4th.
1 - 'Zo still tight with Derek CarrHe spent just one season in Oakland, but much like his season in Buffalo, Lorenzo Alexander left an indelible impression on his new teammates. Alexander still keeps in touch with a handful of Raiders players who he played with last year including QB Derek Carr.
That's why it's going to be a unique game for Alexander knowing he'll be able to square off directly against Carr and the Raiders offense. He had only a special teams role with Oakland last season, but being a Bay area native only adds to it for the Buffalo pass rusher.
"It's be a great experience," said Alexander. "Obviously, I was there last year, built a lot of great relationships with meeting other guys, Derek Carr probably being the tightest I got to last year. Being in Oakland, obviously, I'm from there as well, so it's going to be a good experience for myself. I'm going to have a lot of friends and family there as well. I'm excited to play and compete against them boys." Carr confirmed that he and Alexander talk on a regular basis.
"I've kept up with Lorenzo," said Carr. "We talk, I feel, like every week. It's been every week. We still talk because he's such a great guy. I mean, you guys know, you guys talked to him. He's a professional, he's a great person off the field and obviously I wish him the best besides this week."
The Raiders quarterback also said Alexander's success as a pass rusher this season isn't a shock to him in the least.
"I'm not surprised because I know how hard he plays," Carr said. "We watched him on special teams so many times running down there like he could care less how his body felt. To watch him do what he's doing now, I'm not surprised at all."
2 - Clayton: Beat Oakland and Bills can get to 10
Bills fans know better than anyone that there are no guarantees in the NFL. ESPN NFL reporter John Clayton however, believes if Buffalo can find a way to get a win in Oakland today, they've got a strong chance of reaching 10 wins on the season and being down to tiebreakers for an AFC Wild Card spot.
"I'm such a big advocate of studying the schedule and we're seeing it in the AFC East," said Clayton in an appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 with Schopp and the Bulldog. "Miami has rolled off six straight wins, but they've done it against teams with losing records. So if the Bills can pull this thing off then I think they put themselves in a position to be a viable threat to catch Denver or maybe one of the trailing teams in the AFC West.
"If you look at the schedule the Bills have three games against teams with winning or .500 records (Oakland, Pittsburgh, Miami). Their record is 1-4 against winning teams, which would not give a lot of hope, but winning a game like this against the Oakland Raiders gives them one over the top and then two of their last four are winnable type games.
"So if they can win this Oakland Raider game they put themselves in a position to get 10. You need to win 10 if you're going to be in the AFC playoff race. That would give them a chance to do it and then we're probably talking tiebreakers."
To win in Oakland however, Clayton believes the Bills need to go off the script and let Tyrod Taylor carry the offense with his arm and legs.
"I think it's a turn Taylor loose type of game because with the offense the Raiders have it could be a high scoring type of shootout," said Clayton. "The Raiders are going to give up yards, plays and touchdowns. If they can play the same type of game they played against the Seahawks and try to win it in the end. You realize that Derek Carr just need a final drive, but you have to prevent him from getting that drive."
3 - Injuries challenging the pass gameThe Bills will be without Percy Harvin and Robert Woods today as the musical chairs at the wide receiver position continues. Walt Powell went on injured reserve at the beginning of the week after suffering an ankle injury last Sunday. Greg Salas didn't make it through the first half of the season.
Sammy Watkins is back, but missed eight weeks. Marquise Goodwin missed a game in Week 8, but is expected to play today. Justin Hunter arrived a month into the season and Dez Lewis was called up from the practice squad this week.
It's not the only reason why Buffalo's passing game ranks last in the league, but all the shuttling in and out of the lineup doesn't make Tyrod Taylor's job any easier.
"This year it's been such a mess at that position," said Bills QBs coach David Lee in an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week. "Different guys, guys off the street and he's had to develop them. It's been really, really difficult because guys aren't even in practice in the same spot two days in a row. In the game it's different and that's going to affect a quarterback's accuracy.
"Now we've got Sammy back and Robert is out and Percy is out. So it's been a juggling act for our offense all season. It all comes back to the quarterback. Not having that consistency and rhythm and anticipation because you're not sure, because it's new guys."
Lee said Taylor has worked hard to develop a rapport with his rotation of receivers, but it's been a trying process with the constant player turnover.
"You want to feel good that you know that guy and you can't know that guy because you've only been with him for a week or two weeks," said Lee. "Well where are my guys? Well they're not there. They're all hurt. Obviously our stats are much lower. Yards per attempt are much lower."
Prior to last Sunday's game Taylor was averaging 6.56 yards per attempt. After one game with Watkins in the lineup the figure is up slightly to 6.71. Last year the figure was 8.0.
But Lee believes that number can continue to climb with Watkins back in the lineup.
"Tyrod is a great deep ball thrower," said Lee. "He hit 19 (big plays) last year. You lose No. 14, and now you've got him back and that opens up a whole lot of things."
Lee has also seen chemistry budding between Taylor and Hunter, especially after his game-winning touchdown catch last week.
"The way he ripped that ball to him. Tyrod rarely comes out of his shoes and rips a ball, but he just ripped it and that showed to me the confidence he has in Justin," Lee said. "Justin has talent. He's coming. He and Tyrod are getting that chemistry especially in that red zone."