Saints March Into Buffalo

AFC Game Of The Week

New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills

Saints: Here we are approaching week ten and the defending division and conference champion Atlanta Falcons aren’t in first place. So, that has to be a shocker to a few of us right? Instead, it’s the New Orleans Saints and they are sitting at the top of the NFC South in first place with a 6-2 record and winners of six games in a row. How have they done it? I truly feel them deciding to trade Adrian Peterson was the best thing they could’ve done as a franchise and normally, teams don’t like to make moves like this during the season, but it worked because one, he wasn’t a fit for their scheme and two after he was traded, the Saints running game received a jolt of energy with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara who has been used in that Darren Sproles like capacity. Drew Brees has still been one of the very best at his position and at the age of 38 years old, he’s still playing at a very high level and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. He still has that big arm, he makes all the throws down the field and he’s able to extend plays when he has too. I think the biggest improvement has been their defense and if the offense has a lead, the defense can hold it and win the game and that wasn’t the case these last few seasons because they’d have leads and teams would score on them instantly. I see some of the 2009 team in this group with the running game prominent and the defense making stops instead of heavily relying on takeaways. This one won’t be easy in upstate New York on Sunday.

Bills: They are in a really good position right now and if the season were to end today, the Buffalo Bills would be in the playoffs as a wild card team and their playoff drought would finally be snapped. Last week, they made a move that stated that they want to win and win now by acquiring wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers and this gives Tyrod Taylor another weapon and a nice possession receiver down the field and in the red zone. This has the potential to be a nice offensive core with Tyrod, LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews lined up on the other side as the other receiver. I’ve been happy to see LeSean McCoy back to getting his touches and scoring because when you continue to feed him the ball and allow him to make plays, he’s extremely productive and has an impact on the offense. Their ground game is averaging 117 yards per contest and Shady has 546 yards rushing on the season with three touchdowns. Defensively, they are fun to watch. Micah Hyde has given the secondary a huge boost and to this day, I question why the Packers didn’t decide to bring him back. As a unit, they’re allowing 18 points and 344 yards per contest and they are far more disciplined as a football team nine games under Sean McDermott than they were for any of the Rex Ryan years. They’ll need to get back to their winning ways if they want to keep pace with New England in the AFC East.

Saints Player To Watch: Alex Okafor– He’s the guy that plays on the opposite side of Jordan Cameron. He plays the defensive end position with a tremendous motor and shows the quickness to get to the quarterback. He was used as a rotational player with the Arizona Cardinals and with the Saints, he’s had a resurgence in his career.

Bills Player To Watch: Charles Clay– He’s a more vital piece to this offense than people give him credit for. He’s one of Taylor’s go-to guys. He plays the tight end as if he were a wide receiver. He’s very similar to Delanie Walker. He’s a guy that can free himself over the middle and make a big catch when needed.

Final Analysis: Both these teams have a tough stretch for the remainder of the season. Buffalo has two battles with New England and more tilts in their division and the Saints have some big games upcoming as well. It’s key for Buffalo to establish that ground game and exploit that weakness of the Saints defense which fails to slow down the run. With the weather expected to be a big factor in this one, the Saints will depend on Ingram, Kamara, and Fleener often.

Prediction: Bills 23 Saints 20