Prior to signing with the Buffalo Bills, Ryan Fitzpatrick has never been anything more than a quality backup quarterback. He had short stints in St. Louis along with Cincinnati where he started a total of 15 games over four seasons. He threw for a total of 12 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in those four years. His claim to fame was being an intelligent quarterback (graduating from Harvard) that couldn’t make the big throws. In Buffalo, he has already turned the franchise around, providing them hope that will hopefully lead to the team’s first playoff appearance since 1999.
This week the 4-1 division-leading Buffalo Bills are matched up against the 3-2 New York Giants. The New York Giants defense has been plagued by injury all season and that fits in perfectly with the Bills scheme. Fred Jackson is another player that wasn’t recognized by the national media, only by the Buffalo fans. This team has been one of the great surprises not only in Buffalo but across the entire NFL. Standing on the opposite sideline will be ex-Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. There was scrutiny when the Bills hired Chan Gailey in 2010 and decided to let Fewell move on. I think most Buffalo fans have completely forgotten about Fewell and his departure. Gailey’s game-plan has created a buzz in Buffalo that has everybody tuning in every Sunday.
The Bills should stick to their strengths and give a heavy dose of the plays to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller early in the game. The Giants defensive front has allowed just under 160 yards per game the past three weeks. Fred Jackson is the league’s third leading rusher and a large amount of carries could open up the passing game for Fitzmagic to pick apart the defense. Look for big plays from the Bills receivers downfield. Stevie Johnson is a fan favorite and is an easy player to root for. He brings it every week and after his blunder last year against the Steelers in OT, all he has done is caught every ball thrown his way. Donald Jones and David Nelson have also stepped up and provided key first downs to keep drives moving. Scott Chandler is a beast in the red zone mostly because of his 6’7″ frame.
On the other side of the ball, the Bills defense has made plays when they needed to. They still aren’t getting the pressure on the quarterback, but they have made up for it by causing fumbles and interceptions. Eli Manning is overrated in my eyes and he doesn’t have the weapons to be a huge impact. Hakeem Nicks is the only real threat downfield and he has big play potential against single coverage. The best part of the Bills defense is that they play together. Every key turnover comes from a combination of players making the play. Our front seven needs to stir things up in the backfield so we don’t end up in a shoot out with the Giants on their home field.
I expect the Bills to come out with the same intensity they have been playing with. If they get off to a slow start they need to stick with what they know best and run the ball all over the field. If they can contain Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Bills should cruise to a victory over a banged-up Giants team. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the first five weeks of the NFL, the Bills are back, people.