Blake’s Breakdown: Buffalo Faces the New Jersey Giants in Week 6

Updated: October 13, 2011

In week six, the New York Giants are favored by three points against the Buffalo Bills, making this the fourth game of the season where the Bills are labeled as the “underdogs”. Even though the Bills continue to prove the doubters wrong week after week, they sure don’t mind that label. “That’s pretty much what we expect,” says Bills RB Fred Jackson, who currently is ranked third in the NFL with total yards from scrimmage.  “Our opponents are usually the big name teams. They have a bunch of big name guys and that’s what the national media is focused on. But right now, we don’t have any problems flying below the radar.” Will Buffalo continue to prove the national media wrong and continue adding wins to their already 4-1 record? Let’s get right into another Blake’s Breakdown and find out.

In comparison to the week five match-up with the Eagles, the Giants have many similarities. Although the Giants offense doesn’t contain as good of a running game as the Eagles, their passing attack is quite electric and is capable of many big plays and putting points on the board. Giants QB Eli Manning likes to air it out and throw deep, and with talented receivers such as Hakeem Nicks and new-born star Victor Cruz, he has every right to. The Giants offense holds a respectable rank of 10th in the league, averaging just over 25 points per game. However, like the Eagles, Eli Manning and company are prone to turning the ball over, something that could play in favor to an already opportunistic Buffalo defense.

Although the Bills defense is allowing an average of over 400 yards per game, they make up for it. The Bills defense is ranked first in the league in turnovers (16) and last Sunday against the Eagles marked the third straight game that they took an interception back for a touchdown. It’s safe to say that the Bills Defense can continue this success in week 6 as Eli Manning has already thrown 5 interceptions and has been sacked 14 times. Here’s another similarity in comparison to the Eagles; the Giant’s offensive line is injury stricken. All-Pro guard Chris Snee will most likely sit this week due to a concussion suffered in week 5 and center David Baas was limited in practice Wednesday with a neck injury. Buffalo’s defense looked stout in rushing the passer last week against an injured Eagles offensive line, look for the same to occur in this game, especially with Eli Manning, who likes to sit around in the pocket and is far less elusive than Mike Vick.

The Giants defense is also quite similar to the Eagles. Both teams have a strong defensive line, but lack talent in their line-backing corp and secondary. The Giants defense is allowing 373 total yards per game and ranks 20th in the league in passing yards allowed. However, like the Eagles, their pass rushers succeed at getting to the opposing quarterback. Second year DE Jason Pierre-Paul is third in the league with 6.5 sacks and on the other side of the line, DE Osi Umenyiora isn’t far behind him with 4. Buffalo saw similar sack leaders against The Eagles, DE Jason Babin is second in the league with 7 sacks, but the Bills offensive line only surrendered one total sack last week. This is due to a heavy dose of Fred Jackson running the ball and multiple quick-pass plays thrown into the Bills offensive game-plan. In order to keep QB Ryan Fitzpatrick clean, expect to see almost the same game-plan against the Giants, as their defense is ranked 21st in rushing yards allowed.

Some  thoughts to consider:

  • Bills Rookie LT Chris Hairston played well last week filling in for injured Demetrius Bell. Hairston will have to have another solid game this week as Bell will sit out this week. He will certainly have his hands full as explosive defensive ends Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul look to exploit this rookie situation. It will be crucial for TE Scott Chandler, as well as RB Fred Jackson to assist Hairston in blocking on passing plays.
  • Bills WR Donald Jones will continue to be inactive for the next 4-6 weeks. This poses a problem for the Bills offense as Jones is the only receiver on the team with adequate speed to stretch the field. The Bills offense did a good job of getting the ball out of Fitzpatrick’s hands quickly last week with all the short passes they used, but an offense in this league cannot survive on this game plan week after week. It is crucial for Chan Gailey to adapt to this injury and find someone who has the speed to get down-field and get the Giants defense to spread out and back out of the box. Whether that’s in CJ Spiller or Brad Smith, it has to get done, or else we will start to see the Bills defense struggle often, especially in the second quarter as defenses begin to adjust.
  • Bills DB Leodis McKelvin doesn’t match up well against big, strong receivers. He played well against the smaller, fast receivers in the Eagles game, but Hakeem Nicks could really have a field day on McKelvin here in Week 6. DB Drayton Florence is a much better match-up with Nicks and I believe this is the game that the Bills corner-backs play man and stick with that man all game, as opposed to them staying on one side of the field the entire game.
  • The Giants struggle to run the ball effectively. They are ranked 28th in the league in rushing yards with an average of only 84 rushing yards a game. Brandon Jacobs missed practiced again today (Thursday) with an MCL injury, and Amhad Bradshaw has been playing injured all season. This helps Buffalo a lot. If Buffalo can get consistent pressure on Manning, who will be forced to throw often, should force many turnovers.
My prediction: Buffalo: 27 Giants: 17
I like this match-up for the Bills. A weak Giants run defense and weak running attack are aspects that the Bills seem to have success against. If the Bills defense can continue their streak of forcing turnovers and take advantage of a turnover-prone Giants offense, I think Buffalo walks out of New Jersey victorious. Another heavy dose of Fred Jackson to control the clock and move the chains will open up the passing game for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Co. and the Bills will head into the BYE week 5-1 and still atop of the AFC East.