Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Mario Williams vs. D.J. Fluker – Williams has a sack in each of the first two games this season. Fluker had some issues with speed rusher Cliff Avril last Sunday. Now he'll face speed and power in Williams.
2 – Nigel Bradham vs. Antonio Gates – With Gates' speed not what it once was the tight end is using his physicality to create separation. Bradham figures to be the best cover fit with the size to muscle up with Gates and the speed to run with him.
3 – Sammy Watkins vs. Shareece Wright – Watkins appeared to get stronger as the game wore on in his eight-catch performance last week. Wright will likely need some over the top safety help to contain Watkins despite the receiver's sore ribs.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Run game** – Buffalo's run game wasn't as productive in Week 2 as it was in Week 1, but the three-headed monster of Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Boobie Dixon should make positive gains against the league's 15th ranked run defense.
Best advantage – Run defense – The Bills have been stout against the run since the preseason. Allowing just 83 rushing yards a game Buffalo's front is facing a San Diego rushing attack that has managed just over 75 yards per game (76.5). Without top rusher Ryan Mathews the Chargers could find it a tough go on the ground.
Bills Number 1 Must
Rushing in red zone – Buffalo's offense had a half dozen red zone opportunities last week, but managed just a single touchdown. The Bills had 10 carries in the red zone against Miami and gained just 12 yards, four of which went for no gain or negative yardage. They have to do better to improve their red zone touchdown efficiency.
Vets still producing
Both are 34-years old, but early in the season Pro Bowl veterans Dwight Freeney and Antonio Gates are putting up quality production. Last week against Seattle Freeney contributed with a sack and four quarterback hurries on Russell Wilson. Gates meanwhile lit up the Seahawks secondary for three touchdown receptions. Gates caught two touchdowns in San Diego's last meeting with the Bills in 2011. Freeney has two sacks in three career games against Buffalo.
He was able to return from a torn ACL in May of 2013 and play before the Chargers 2013 campaign was over. Now in his third NFL season San Diego OLB Melvin Ingram is emerging as a formidable pass rushing talent. Lining up opposite Dwight Freeney, Ingram has been disruptive in the team's first two games.
Last week alone Ingram had a sack and forced fumble, an additional tackle for loss and harassed Seattle QB Russell Wilson for most of the day. On any zone read plays to the defensive front's left side Ingram was responsible for Wilson on QB keepers. Wilson is undersized, but a rare athlete and has been proving that on the field early this season.
The Chargers lost starting RB Ryan Mathews to what's been reported as a sprained MCL, which was suffered in last week's game against Seattle. San Diego found it hard enough to pile up yards on the ground with Mathews managing just over 75 a game to rank 27th in the NFL. Now they'll have to try and be more productive without him with Donald Brown, Danny Woodhead and UB product Branden Oliver to pick up the slack. The Chargers are last in the league in yards per carry average (2.5).
San Diego's run game might be pretty unproductive, but it hasn't kept their offense from moving the chains. Through the first two weeks of the season the Chargers are tied for sixth in the NFL in third down conversion percentage. They've converted half of their third down opportunities (16-32) so far.
Last Sunday against the Seahawks defense, despite not running the ball with much success they converted eight of their first 11 third down opportunities and finished the game 10-for-17 (59%).
San Diego K Nick Novak only has one touchback in the first two games for the Chargers this season. The main reason why is he's mixing up his kickoffs. Novak has hit some kickoffs high and deep like most, but has also altered hang times, mixed up distances and changed the trajectory on some of his kicks. He can even alter the spin of the ball. It provides an element of uncertainty for the opposing returner and San Diego special teams coach Kevin Spencer has faith in his coverage unit to react accordingly.
Last week Novak squib kicked a kickoff late in the first half. Even though Seattle return man Percy Harvin took the ball of a bounce on a dead run at the 12, he was stripped of the ball by Kavell Conner and the Chargers recovered at the Seahawks' 28. The turnover resulted in a touchdown for San Diego.
Quote of the Week**
"It's pretty much just the passion that we all have as a unit, a brotherhood we have. It's a different camaraderie this year. We all feel like we're brothers and we're playing for each other. We all have the same passion and the same goal."
-LB Nigel Bradham on team's on field intensity
Stat of the Week
EJ Manuel is 4-2 in home starts completing 62.6 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and three interceptions for a 92.8 passer rating. Buffalo is 4-1 when Manuel has a 90-plus rating.
Milestones in reach
-Fred Jackson needs two rushing touchdowns to become the fourth Bills player with 30 or more in his career.
-C.J. Spiller with a touchdown will have scored in each of the team's first three games.
-Mike Williams needs 14 receiving yards to reach 3,000 in his career.
DE Jerry Hughes has four sacks in his past three home games.