Scouting Report - Bills-Giants - Week 4

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Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Stephon Gilmore vs. Odell Beckham Jr. –
Beckham has picked up where he left off last season. Capable of snaring anything close to him with his large catch radius, Gilmore will need to be physical every step of the way in coverage.

2 – Charles Clay vs. Brandon Meriweather –Clay looks to be a similar matchup advantage to the one the Bills had against the Dolphins last week. The tight end has been getting consistent separation from defenders in the passing game.

3 – Marcell Dareus vs. Geoff Schwartz –The veteran guard will have his hands full facing the Pro Bowl defensive tackle while also dealing with crowd noise. Schwartz will likely need some assistance from C Weston Richburg in this matchup.

Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Pass rush
Buffalo's front four hasn't racked up a ton of sacks, but their pass pressure has been effective enough to force hurried and inaccurate throws this season. Moving Eli Manning off his spot will be critical in Sunday's game.

Best advantage - Passing gameBuffalo showed last week that they can win with the passing game. Even with Sammy Watkins out, the Bills have a deep receiving corps capable of winning one-on-one matchups. Facing the league's worst pass defense Buffalo should be able to make more than their share of plays through the air.

Bills Number 1 Must
Third down defense
Buffalo's defense has fared pretty well thus far this season on third down, and that will need to continue Sunday against the Giants. New York is ranked sixth in the league in third down conversion percentage at a strong clip of 46.5 percent. With reliable weapons to move the sticks like Odell Beckham Jr., Shane Vereen and Rueben Randle, the Bills will need consistent coverage in the back and steady pressure up front to hurry or alter throws from Eli Manning.

Scouting Eye
No pleasure Cruz
The Giants were hoping to have top flight slot receiver Victor Cruz back from a persistent calf injury. Cruz even predicted he would return to the lineup this week against the Bills. However, on Wednesday this week he pulled out of practice early as his calf could not hold up. Head coach Tom Coughlin declared him out for Sunday's game on Thursday.

Pass rush problemsThe Jason Pierre-Paul fireworks accident has dramatically affected the Giants' pass rush. Robert Ayers Jr. is the best pass rusher left on the roster, but he's at his best when working with a bookend pass rusher. Unfortunately on New York's roster there isn't another bona fide pass rusher. As a result the Giants struggle to get off the field on third down where they rank last in the league. Making matters worse, Ayers is questionable for Sunday's game with a hamstring injury.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has tried a wide variety of blitz calls through the first three games, but not much has worked with any great effectiveness. New York ranks 30th in sacks per play.

Flowers ready to return?Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers missed last week's game against Washington with an ankle injury. The starting left tackle was replaced in the lineup by starting LG Justin Pugh, who kicked out to tackle and fared well. Flowers has been limited in practice during the week. Whether the rookie is ready for a speed rusher the caliber of Jerry Hughes remains to be seen. In a little over 100 snaps on the field, Flowers has committed three penalties and given up three quarterback hits and five quarterback hurries.

Ball securityThe Giants have been doing an effective job in protecting the football so far this season. In two of their three games they have not committed a turnover. QB Eli Manning has yet to throw an interception this season, and their six takeaways have the Giants at a plus-five in turnover margin. That figure leads the NFC and is tied with Buffalo for second-best in the league. New York has won seven of their last eight games in which they did not have a turnover.

Red zone trialsNew York hasn't been hurt much by it so far this season, but the Giants are making a concerted effort to improve their red zone touchdown efficiency. Their offense is currently last in the league in red zone touchdown percentage. The Giants haven't had trouble reaching the red zone at all. Only five other NFL clubs have had more red zone possessions than New York this season, but the Giants have managed just three touchdowns on 11 attempts for an anemic 27 percent success rate.

Throwing earlyThe Giants aren't shy about using some of their best offensive weapons early. Establishing the run really hasn't been a big priority for New York through their first three games. In the first half of their games thus far this year, New York is throwing almost two-thirds of the time (65.5%). The Giants offense has been more balanced in the second half where they've thrown just 53 percent of the time.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
"They're second in run defense, we're number one in run offense. I guess it's going to be a great game, a great pounding game, a great defensive-offensive struggle game. And that's something you look forward to—a challenge each and every week."
--RB Karlos Williams

Stat of the weekTyrod Taylor is the first Bills quarterback with seven or more touchdown passes and a completion percentage of 70 percent or higher (74.4) through Week 3 since Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly in 1991.

Milestones in reachDan Carpenter needs to make two field goals for 200 in his career.

Percy Harvin needs six receiving yards to reach 4,000 in his career.

Garrison Sanborn needs one game played to reach 100 games played for the Buffalo Bills.

Karlos Williams needs one rushing touchdown to become the first rookie running back to score touchdowns in his first four games since Robert Edwards in 1998.

Final notePercy Harvin is looking to make it five straight games with at least four receptions Sunday.

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