It’s game day Bills fans! With the team technically still in the playoff hunt, today’s game against the Green Bay Packers is high-stakes and a must-win. However this is no ordinary Packers team, this squad could very well be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl this year. With Aaron Rodgers playing at MVP, Super Bowl and Pro Bowl levels, it will take all 22 players to squish the Packer’s dream of getting their first win in Buffalo. Keeping that in mind, here are today’s three keys to the game:
1. Defensive Coach Jim Schwartz will have to pull out all the stops. If there are any formations, blitzes, techniques that the Bills D has not used this year, now would be the time to try it out. As Rodgers is a 10 year veteran, there is very little that he has not seen in his career, especially from a Jim Schwartz-coached defense, who spent five of those years as coach of the Detroit Lions. The Bills will have to get to the quarterback and disrupt the rhythm of this NFL-leading offense.
2. Sammy Watkins will need to become “Super Sammy” against the Packers’ secondary. Buffalo’s sensational rookie wide receiver will need to step up his game today and show the NFL why he was drafted 4th and warranted two 1st round draft picks. While the receiver is statistically playing better away than home (via ProFootballReference.com), today is his Super Bowl and a chance to solidify himself as the Bills’ go to man. With Robert Woods playing his best football since he was drafted, Buffalo’s 1-2 combo at wide out need to give Green Bay anxiety all day. The formula for success is easy here: the offensive line needs to give quarterback Kyle Orton enough time to throw and for Woods & Watkins to get open, which should stretch the defense and open up the running game. Easier said than done sometimes.
3. Special Teams will become the difference today. The differentiator today that will give the Bills a chance to win this game will be special teams. With kicker Dan Carpenter probable with a groin injury, all 11 players are going to have to step up their game to give the team an advantage. Solid kickoff and punt returns, forcing Rodgers to sustain long drives (90+ yards), and making all PAT’s and field goals are a must as points will be hard to come by today.
Today is another statement-making game for this young Buffalo Bills team. If they want to show the country that they are a playoff team, decisively winning is the only way to do so. A loss or even a slight victory might not do much to change popular opinion.