Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Kelvin Benjamin vs. Marshon Lattimore
These two squared off back in Week 3, but Benjamin was injured at the end of the first quarter. Lattimore has been solid in his rookie season, and how much playing time Benjamin gets is unclear, but all Buffalo’s new giant receiver just needs an opportunity.
*2 – Dion Dawkins vs. Alex Okafor *In his first year with the Saints, Okafor is second on the team in sacks, second in QB hits, third in tackles for loss and fourth in tackles. Dawkins will have to be sharp with his technique in this matchup.
*3 - Micah Hyde vs. Alvin Kamara *Kamara lines up in the slot a good deal, and Hyde will likely draw him as a coverage assignment along with Ramon Humber. The Saints rookie back is dangerous as a receiving target. He’s second on the club in receptions.
*Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Return game *The Bills rank 12th in punt return average and 10th in kick return average. That combination is the main reason why they boast the best average drive start when playing at home in the NFL. Buffalo on average starts at their own 33-and-a-half-yard line. The Saints are 27th in punt coverage and 30th in kick coverage.
*Best advantage – Run game *Buffalo’s run game still hasn’t reached the heights of where it has been the past two seasons, but it still what drives their offense. Currently ranked 11th they should be able to open up holes for LeSean McCoy against a run defense that ranks 29th in yards per carry allowed (4.7).
*Bills Number 1 Must
Force field goals *Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He’s going to get his yards, especially against a pass defense that has struggled against elite quarterbacks. The key will be getting stops in the red zone to force the Saints to take field goals instead of touchdowns. Buffalo’s red zone defense ranks 10th in the NFL and second in yards per play allowed in the red zone (2.1).
Relive memorable Bills versus Saints games throughout the years.
Line juggling *It hasn’t revealed itself in any negative way, but New Orleans has had to do some shuffling on their offensive line just about every other week due to injuries. The Saints have put together four different line combinations in their first eight games and this week will be the fifth if LT Terron Armstead can’t return from an injury that forced him from last week’s game. Starting G Larry Warford is expected to return from an abdominal injury after missing the last two games. Veteran right tackle Zach Strief was lost for the season in Week 4 with a knee injury.
*Multi-faceted back *Over the years the Saints have made sure to have a back capable of being a factor in the passing attack. From Reggie Bush to Darren Sproles. Now filling that role is rookie RB Alvin Kamara. The Tennessee product has been a pleasant surprise, particularly in the screen game, a staple of New Orleans passing game.
Kamara has also been used as a slot receiver and has proven capable of handling an increased workload each and every week. It’s to the point where the rookie is running almost everything on the route tree in New Orleans offense.
The back’s rushing ability should not be dismissed either. Kamara is currently averaging six yards per carry, which leads the league. The rookie is rushing for four yards or more on 54 percent of his carries, giving him the seventh-highest success rate in the NFL. Twenty-five percent of Kamara’s runs have gone for 10 yards or more, which leads the NFL.
*Dynamic rookie *Kamara isn’t the only rookie making a difference for the Saints. CB Marshon Lattimore is not only proving himself capable of hanging with the opponent’s number one receiver every week. He’s shutting that receiver down. Lattimore has allowed 18 or fewer receiving yards to his coverage assignment in four of the last five games. All season the most receiving yardage he has allowed to his opponent is 38. He’s fourth in the league in passer rating allowed at 62.1.
*Butter fingers *Ted Ginn and Willie Snead have both had opportunities to return punts for the Saints this season, but lately they’re just having trouble hanging onto the football. In two of the last three games, they’ve had muffed punts. The first was somewhat understandable in wet conditions at Green Bay where Ginn mishandled a pair of punts.
But last week against Tampa, Ginn again muffed a punt and later in the game Snead did the same, leading to a turnover and Buccaneers touchdown in just three plays. Whether head coach Sean Payton makes a change there remains to be seen.
*Big plays go both ways *It’s no surprise that the Saints have big play ability on offense. New Orleans ranks first in the league in plays of 20 yards or more with 41 on the season. Thirty-six of those have come through the air. What might be surprising is even though their defense is much improved this season, their ability to prevent the big play has not followed suit. The Saints defense has given up 38 plays of 20 yards or more tied for 28th in the NFL.
Quote of the week *Whatever happened the week before, you’ve got to flush it. Everybody was high on us before the Jets game. Now once again everybody is doubting us. That’s what we like man. That’s how it is in the NFL. You’ve got to take it for what it’s worth and keep moving forward.”
*--S Micah Hyde**
*Stat of the week *Drew Brees has the fifth-highest passer rating differential when passing under pressure as opposed to passing with no pressure. When not pressure the Saints QB has a passer rating of 114.7. When under pressure it plummets to 64.6, a difference of more than 50 points.
*Milestones in reach *Kelvin Benjamin needs 76 receiving yards for 2,500 in his career.
Stephen Hauschka needs one field goal from 50 yards or more to hold the NFL record for most consecutive 50-plus yard field goals made (13).
Jordan Matthews needs four receptions for 250 in his career.
Tyrod Taylor (27) needs one touchdown pass to set a franchise best for most passing touchdowns by a Bills quarterback in his first 20 home starts (Jim Kelly, 27)
With a victory the Bills will improve to 6-3 on the season for their best record after nine games since 1999, the last time they reached the postseason.
*Final note *The New Orleans Saints defense has the fourth-highest blitz rate in the NFL (36.3%).