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Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Stevie Johnson vs. Chris Johnson –Buffalo's top wideout is emerging as a premier playmaker with 11 touchdowns in his last 15 games. The Raiders' Johnson is a physical corner (6'1" 200) and makes plays on the ball with nine pass breakups and two interceptions last season, one of which he returned for a TD. He figures to have help against his namesake, especially since he's dealing with a groin injury.
2 – Shawne Merriman vs. Jared Veldheer –Merriman looks like he's back to form and that could spell trouble for the second-year tackle. Veldheer appeared in all 16 games last season for the Raiders including 11 starts. At 6'8" 315, his long arms keep pass rushers at bay, but Merriman is a handful with more sacks against the Raiders (8.5) than any other team in his career.
3 – Andra Davis vs. Marcel Reece –Knowing the Raiders proclivity to run the ball up inside, there will be some monster collisions in the hole. That's where Buffalo's veteran linebacker and Oakland's veteran fullback will see whose going to win more of the battles. The pad popping is likely to be at its most intense with this pair on Sunday.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Punt return –Buffalo's punt return unit boasts one of the most electric return men in the game in Roscoe Parrish, who came close to busting one last Sunday. Oakland had trouble covering punts last week, which is surprising knowing the caliber of their punter (Shane Lechler) surrendering a 90-yard return for a touchdown at Denver.
Best advantage - 3rd down defense –Even though the Raiders run the ball extremely well to set up favorable down and distance on third down, they struggled at times to convert making good on just five of their 14 third downs Monday night (36%). Buffalo's defense held the Chiefs attack to just three conversions on 13 attempts on the road last week.
Bills Number 1 Must
Prevent the big runs –Oakland is too good a rushing attack to completely shut down. They're extremely physical at the line of scrimmage and will generate their share of rushing yards. The key is to eliminate the 20-plus yard runs that Darren McFadden can break off in the blink of an eye. McFadden led the league in 2010 with 14 rushes of 20 yards or more. On Monday night alone he had three (20, 20, 47), which helped him finish Week 1 as the league's leading rusher with 150 yards on just 22 carries (6.8 avg.).
Air pumpThe Raiders do not need to pass as much as most teams with such a successful rushing attack (190 yards rushing Monday night), but Jason Campbell's passing numbers were subpar in Week 1 with just 105 yards on 22 attempts with 13 completions. In 2010, Campbell ranked 26th in passing yards, more than 600 fewer than Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick with both players making 13 starts last season. Campbell also threw 10 fewer touchdowns (13) than Fitzpatrick (23).
Raiders robberyOakland induced four turnovers by Denver on Monday night and got them three different ways. The Raiders blocked a punt, forced a pair of fumbles and recorded an interception against the Broncos. The combined result of those takeaways was 20 points with two touchdowns and two field goals in what wound up being a three-point Raiders victory.
Receiving corps hobblingThe Raiders could be without two of their top wideouts Sunday against the Bills. Jacoby Ford left Monday night's game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. He also did not practice the middle of this week. Ford is also the team's top kick returner. Meanwhile Louis Murphy is not expected to be back until Week 3 as he recovers from sports hernia surgery. Top receiving tight end Kevin Boss, who came over in free agency from the Giants has just begun practicing this week after being off the field since Aug. 20th with a knee injury.
Run 'D' much improvedMuch like Buffalo's new and improved run front, Oakland had a vastly improved performance from last season in Week 1. The Raiders held Denver to just 38 yards rushing on Monday night on 13 carries (2.9 avg.). In 2010, the Raiders weren't much better than the Bills at stopping the run ranking 29th while they allowed more than 133 yards a game on the ground.
Balanced pass rushPro Bowl DT Richard Seymour proved he's still a threat with a pair of sacks in Monday night's game at Denver. However, the Raiders have more than just Seymour to capably rush the passer. Kamerion Wimbley led the club with nine sacks last season, but four other players on Oakland's defense had at least five (DE Lamarr Houston – 5, Seymour – 5.5, DT Tommy Kelly – 7 and DE Matt Shaughnessy – 7). Even their two starting safeties had four sacks apiece last season helping the Raiders rank second in the league (1st in the AFC with 47 sacks).
Big legsThe combination of punter Shane Lechler and Sebatian Janikowski has been one of the league's most powerful kicking duos and nothing appears to have changed after Monday night's opener for the Raiders. Lechler kicked a franchise record 77-yard punt a year removed from leading the AFC in net punting average with a mark of 40.8.
Janikowski tied a league record with a giant 63-yard field goal Monday night tying Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam for the NFL record long. It was the seventh field goal in his career that was from 55 yards away or more.
Quote of the week"I think if you're not focused all you've got to do is turn on the film and watch McFadden run the ball. I don't think that'll be an issue, a lack of focus or whatever. I think that guys around here are going to be responsible about it. They're going to get to their work and if they're not we're going to make sure they do."
--DT Kyle Williams
Stat of the WeekRyan Fitzpatrick had a 133 passer rating in Week 1, a career high and also NFL best for the first week of the regular season.
*Milestones in reach *Ryan Fitzpatrick needs two touchdown passes for 50 in his NFL career.
Stevie Johnson is two receptions away from 100 in his career.
Fred Jackson needs 85 rushing yards to pass Cookie Gilchrist for seventh place on the team's all-time rushing list.
Final noteThe Bills are 7-1 when Fred Jackson rushes for 100 yards or more.