Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. Terrell Owens vs. Jabari Greer – The former Bills cornerback will be matched up on Buffalo's biggest offseason acquisition for a good portion of the game. Greer, a good man-to-man coverage corner has had previous success against Owens while a member of the Bills. He held Owens to two catches for 25 yards in the Dallas Monday night comeback win over Buffalo in 2007.
2. Jonathan Scott vs. Charles Grant – The Saints defensive end will not be fully healthy Sunday as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury, but Grant is power and speed rolled into one. He'll be a good first test for Bills new right tackle Jonathan Scott who makes his first start since 2007 in place of Brad Butler.
3. Bryan Scott vs. Jeremy Shockey – Injuries have plagued the career of Shockey, but when healthy he's a dangerous weapon in the middle of the field. Fortunately for the Bills, Scott is one of the more physical safeties with coverage ability. He'll need to use all of his 220 pounds on the well-built Shockey to keep him from making big plays down the seams.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – kick return – The Bills boast one of the best kick return specialists in the league in Leodis McKelvin, who is eager to make a big play after a rough start to the season. The Saints kickoff specialist rookie Thomas Morstead does have a big leg with four touchbacks in two games, but New Orleans has surrendered some big returns (63, 87 yards) and ranks 30th in the league.
Best advantage – run defense – Buffalo has done a good job of keeping opposing running games in check. Allowing just 65 yards a game on the ground, the Bills new approach of forcing runs to the middle of the field is working. The Saints are 8th in the league in rushing, but with Mike Bell out, Pierre Thomas returning from injury and Reggie Bush not a between the tackles runner, the Bills may just be able to make New Orleans less balanced offensively than they have been.
Bills Number 1 Must
Red zone defense – The Bills finished last season ranked fourth in the league in red zone defense surrendering touchdowns less than 42 percent of the time. With 10 starters back from last season Buffalo's defense knows how to hold opposing offenses to field goals. The Saints attack will be a supreme challenge, but if Buffalo can surrender more threes than sevens the Bills have a shot at an upset.
Brees a surgeon
That's what Donte Whitner called Saints QB Drew Brees this week. Slicing and dicing up defenses is what Brees has done the first two weeks and last season when he came within 15 yards of Dan Marino's single-season passing record. He has 25 touchdown passes in his last eight games, and has thrown for 300 yards in 15 of his last 22 games. He's difficult to sack as there are few quarterbacks that can diagnose a defense and deliver a ball faster than him.
At just six feet tall, Brees has a knack for moving around in the pocket so he can throw between his linemen instead of over them. He also doesn't play favorites with his receiving corps. Marques Colston is the clear number one wideout, but he threw to nine different targets last week in the win over Philly. The highest rated passer in football completing over 75 percent of his passes while averaging almost 10 yards an attempt (9.84) Brees is an MVP type talent.
Offensive balanceAs much press as New Orleans' passing attack might get, the Saints have been very balanced through their first two games. They've called 64 runs and 68 passes, and their run game is averaging 145 yards an outing. But that balance could be compromised this week with RB Mike Bell (knee) out and RB Pierre Thomas still recovering from knee injury himself.
With the Saints offensive backfield a bit banged up the Saints may need to have Lynell Hamilton and Reggie Bush carry more of the load than usual. Hamilton (6'0" 235) is a first-year player out of San Diego State that has never appeared in a regular season game. But he was getting first team reps in practice this week, and is likely to handle the between the tackles running on Sunday, especially if Thomas isn't all the way back.
Moore outThe Saints are also going to be without WR Lance Moore. The team's leading receiver in 2008, due to the injury to Marques Colston, Moore caught a career-high 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns. With Moore out, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem are expected to pick up the slack in the New Orleans passing game opposite Colston.
Gregg Williams returnsSaints defensive coordinator and former Bills head coach Gregg Williams has brought his aggressive style to New Orleans defense. With Brees and the offense putting up a lot of points it's enabled Williams to stay aggressive and get after opposing passers, who are forced to throw more often being down on the scoreboard.
Williams has been making use of player overloads in his blitz packages where he sends three pass rushers (e.g. 2 LBs, 1 safety) off the same side to outnumber the protection. With Demetrius Bell and Andy Levitre making just their third start together, Williams will presumably try to cross up the two youngsters with some of these looks. New right tackle starter Jonathan Scott could also get some of these looks.
Buffalo's no huddle approach on offense however, could compromise how creative Williams gets as he won't be able to make use of his varied array of personnel packages. If that's the case Williams will likely try to create pressure out of his base defenses by playing more man coverage.
Sharper a roverFS Darren Sharper has a lot of latitude with his defensive responsibilities. Among the best safeties of his era in reading the quarterback, Sharper has three interceptions in the first two games this season including one that he returned 97 yards for a touchdown. He leads all active players with 57 interceptions in his career.
Gregg Williams uses Sharper in a variety of ways whether it's close to the line of scrimmage, in deep centerfield, or with help over the top of a premier receiver. Trent Edwards will need to be mindful of where Sharper is on the field at all times.
Quote of the week"I think every week that (ball possession) is critical, especially this week with an offense that they have, I have to make sure that we convert on third downs, we score touchdowns when we're in the red zone, and obviously we can't keep our defense out there too long. So we need to make sure we're doing all those things, and I think that's the reason they've won the past couple weeks is because the other teams offenses can't stay on the field."
Stat of the week
In his last five games against New Orleans, Bills WR Terrell Owens has seven touchdown receptions.
Milestones within reach
Trent Edwards needs 229 passing yards for 5,000 in his career.
Lee Evans needs three catches to pass Pete Metzelaars (302) for fourth place on the Bills all-time receptions list.
Fred Jackson (337 total yards) needs 155 total yards from scrimmage Sunday to have the third highest all-purpose yardage total in a season's first three games in team history.
Final noteTrent Edwards engineered the first fourth-quarter comeback of his career on Dec. 2, 2007 at Washington against the Redskins against a defense coordinated by current Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.