Bills Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Jerry Hughes vs. Donald Penn** – Oakland's blind side protector has performed well this season giving up just four sacks, but Hughes in his last 10 games has 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble return for a score.
2 – Aaron Williams vs. Mychal Rivera – The Bills know Rivera will be a frequent target of Derek Carr, as he uses him as both a primary option and a safety valve. Buffalo's secondary play has been peaking of late.
3 – Seantrel Henderson vs. Khalil Mack – The two trained together prior to the NFL draft. On Sunday they'll be re-aquainted in a game that counts.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Third down defense – The Bills are among the best at getting off the field on third down where they rank second in the NFL in conversion percentage allowed (33.3%). Though Oakland's defense has improved on third down of late, their offense struggles to convert (34%) and ranks 28th when it comes to moving the sticks. No other team in the NFL goes three-and-out more often than the Raiders (34.5%).
Best advantage – Run defense – Buffalo brings a top 10 run defense to the table where they rank ninth in the league allowing just over 100 yards per game (103.4). The Raiders have problems moving the ball on the ground. They rank last in the league at just under 74 yards a game.
Bills Number 1 Must
Fast start – The Bills need to jump on the Raiders early and stake themselves to an early lead. Oakland ranks 29th in first quarter scoring this season, but their two wins have come in games where they've gotten on the scoreboard first. When their opponent scores first they are 0-7 this season.
The Bills are all too familiar with the interim head coach of the Raiders. Tony Sparano was previously the head coach of the Miami Dolphins (2008-2011) where he posted a 29-32 record. Sparano took over as head coach for Oakland in Week 5 for Dennis Allen, who was fired four games into the season. Sparano had been serving as the Raiders assistant head coach/offensive line coach.
While the Raiders struggle in a number of areas one place where they execute consistently is in the red zone. Oakland leads the league in red zone touchdown percentage scoring six points on 75 percent of their red zone possessions this season. The only drawback to that success rate is through 14 games this season the Raiders have only reached the red zone 24 times, a league low.
The Oakland offense has not given up many sacks on rookie QB Derek Carr this season. They stand eighth in the league in that category. Part of it is a byproduct of their quick release passing game. Carr gets the ball out quick in an effort to neutralize any pass rush. That can be seen in his yards per attempt figure of 5.48, which ranks last in the league among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts this season. Carr has been sacked just 20 times this year.
The Raiders defense ranks a respectable 14th in third down defense allowing opponents to convert just under 39 percent of the time. That figure has been moving down thanks to their defensive play over the last several games. Oakland has allowed four or less third down conversions in each of their last five games. Over that span Raiders opponents have only been able to convert 21 percent of their third down opportunities.
Give it away now
When it comes to protecting the football Oakland has not had much success. Tied for second-most turnovers in the league with 27 in 14 games, the Raiders have split their giveaways almost down the middle between interceptions (15) and fumbles lost (12). That fat giveaway number combined with their league low takeaway number (11) is why the Raiders are an NFL worst minus-16 in turnover margin.
Quote of the Week**
"We're playing for something—playing for more than just ourselves. We're playing for the organization, the fans. We really have something to push for and it does feel good."
--DT Marcell Dareus
Stat of the Week
The Bills defense is tied for third in the NFL allowing opponents to gain just 4.9 yards per play. Oakland's offense averages just 4.6 yards per play, which is last in the league.
Milestones in reach
-Dan Carpenter needs two field goals to break the single season franchise record, which he tied last year (33).
-Fred Jackson needs 29 receiving yards to set a career high with 443 yards on the season.
-Colton Schmidt needs five punts inside the 20 to set a franchise record with 34.
In each of his past two games against Oakland, Kyle Orton has passed for 300 yards.